The Netflix miniseries Maniac is set in New York, but something about its version of the city feels distinctly off. At first, the discrepancies between the real metropolis and the one conjured by Cary Joji Fukunaga, best known for directing the stunning first season of True Detective, are subtle: Tiny robots roam the sidewalks cleaning up dog poop. Lonely people hire actors to impersonate old friends. Things slowly get stranger, until the implausibility of a purple koala that plays chess barely registers. Yet life in the bizarro five boroughs remains mostly familiar. In a voiceover that opens the premiere, Justin Theroux floats a hypothesis: “All the worlds that almost were matter just as much as the one we’re in.” Maniac—the most exciting new drama to arrive on Netflix in the past two years—takes place in one of these parallel realities.
My new favorite show. It’s all over the place, in a good way. There’s layers of details to catch, so I’ll be watching it several times.
Every month is a blank canvas