Maniac is a sci-fi limited series added to Netflix in September 2018. The series takes all kinds of twists and turns and is the type of series that’ll leave you with a bunch of questions. We’re going to do our best to answer some of these questions and take a look at the post-credit scene.
This is by no means a complete rundown of every theory going for this show. At the end of the day, most of the events and choices of the show will be open to interpretation by each individual watcher and that’s the beauty of a series like this, it’s essentially art. Here’s a look at a few of the questions we had and our theories that try to explain the answer to them. There’s a lot to unpack so let’s get straight to it.
The post-credit scene explained
Did you miss the post-credit scene? Don’t worry, we nearly did too. We’d suggest going back to take a watch before reading on.
The end scene has both Annie and Owen driving in a different direction to Azumi and James. We hear a brief conversation between Azumi and James who are heading to Newfoundland, a remote area in Canada. Annie and Owen then cut in where they’re talking about their travels to Salt Lake City, something that had already been discussed in the final episode. Annie reveals the truck may break down before Owen then questions whether he actually knows Annie. It then concludes with one of the sanitation robots riding up the road with a hawk accompanying it with a fox walking alongside before ending.
We don’t know what else is answered in this post-credit sequence but does subtly suggest the two sets of characters stories are continuing despite the fact that Maniac is only a limited series.
Quite a few have cited the ending of the show is similar to that of the 1967 ending of “The Graduate”
Is the show set in the future?
One of the big questions you’ll have throughout is when and where the show is set. In some ways, the show reveals itself to be largely set in the future while having technology that’s largely reminiscent of the past. For example, the medical science and AI capabilities displayed is far beyond what’s available right now but all done through old looking computers. In fact, the computers are identical to computers from the 1980’s as is some of the TV commercials, outfits and hairstyles are worn by some of the cast. The style of the show actually has a name and is referred to as “cassette futurism“.
A lot of people have compared the future displayed in Maniac a bit Japanese and has theorised this world takes place in a future when Japan won World War 2 against the United States.
Here are a few other theories from Redditors. “the present day of the series is a play on the future as seen by the 80s. Japanese technology, innovations, and fashion were all in vogue in the early 80s and there was a real sense of anxiety that the Japanese would outpace the US on multiple fronts (economic, etc). It’s not a leap for someone from the 80s to imagine this trend continuing for decades resulting in the integration we see in the series.”
What do the pills do?
The pills are split into three letters, A, B and C. The first pill (which Annie was hooked on) reveals the subjects greatest traumatic experience in their life. The second pill then gives the subjects escape from the trauma but subtly reminds them of the lies and reality their putting up to avoid their own reality. Pill C puts the subjects in another reality where they have to deal with their traumas and disabilities.
The pills in some respect actually are a form of therapy, something James said didn’t work mainly because of the twisted nature of the relationship with his mother. Of course, it was actually a different form of his mother actually treating the subjects.
Are the experiences dreams or simulations?
We’re split on the answer to this question. On the one hand, in the dreams, many of the people who are in the lives of each other regularly pop up such as the driver who killed Annie’s sister is mentioned regularly. The pills do appear to send the subjects into a dream state but with the artificial intelligence controlling certain aspects. Annie invading Owen’s dreams and vice versa are what makes it harder to believe these are dreams. Add the fact that when Robert dies and the computer starts crying, it crosses the wires of different subjects that could suggest their consciousness are being run in a computer system.
What’s the company the test is for and what’s their purpose?
The company in the series is called Neberdine Pharmaceutical Biotech and is a Japanese company run by a mysterious Japanese figure who’s featured several times throughout but never with his identity revealed. The official promotional trailer (seen below) for the company paints the company in a positive light although the reality is a little more nefarious. It’s mentioned several times that there have been multiple so-called “Murphy” instances where subjects are stuck in a dream state and unable to come out. It almost happened to Annie who for a moment chose the dream world over her own reality.
Bustle made the connection that the company feels like a lot of other fictional companies in series specifically DHARMA from Lost being the most similar.
Why did Owen tell on his brother?
The whole of the series is about Owen distinguishing between what’s real and what’s fake. Owen wanted to be rooted in reality who tells the truth about his brother’s heinous actions. He’s then hospitalized again.
One last twist
Cast your mind back to the first episode. Owen is sat in the park with his bother turning up talking about a mission, similar to the one he has to complete in the final episode. We also see popcorn popping and the ground rumbling repeatedly. The timelines are a little spotty here but could this suggest that even Owen’s so-called reality isn’t actually a reality rather another simulation or dream? His brother is zapped out of the world similar to how Annie is later on. There are a few strange incidents in Owen’s real world such as the constant rumbling, appearances from his brother and popping popcorn.
Before we start getting into inception territory we’re going to turn it over to you. What did you think of the series? Let us know in the comments.