Netflix’s first two high-profile series, “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black,” established two divergent paths for getting attention. The first sold itself on pedigree, with an Oscar-winning star and a major directing talent, while the second put together an ensemble of performers who’d been waiting for their spotlight and behind-the-scenes talent that was classically gifted but hadn’t yet achieved household-name status. It’s that second path — which generated shows like “Stranger Things,” “GLOW,” and “American Vandal” — that has given Netflix its most celebrated creative successes.
“Maniac” is the first major Netflix series in months that follows the “House of Cards” model, bringing together superstars and a directing mega-talent; its story, though, promises to be knottier and more rewarding of close viewership. Emma Stone and Jonah Hill play strangers undergoing a drug trial, one that, given director Cary Fukunaga’s pedigree, promises to bring them on a twisted journey to the center of the human mind. This is Fukunaga’s first TV project as director since “True Detective” established him as a rising talent, and it represents a splashy step out for a streaming service whose zeitgeist hits often come unheralded by real star power. If it clicks, expect more top-of-their-game stars like Stone to migrate to streaming.
Michele K. Short / Netflix