5

Maniac take place in an alternate reality where history and the current state of technology do not match with our reality. Among the incongruities, we see:

A extra 'Statue of Extra Liberty' which looks nothing like the real one
Pervasive green CRT monitors
Microfilm/slide-based technology
1970/80s Speak & Spell-style voice synthesis.

yet also

Robots which clean up after pets on the street
(Probably advanced) pharmaceutical technology

Do we have an indication in- or out-of-universe about the supposed year in the series?

  • Is there some reason to think it's not 2018? – Zeiss Ikon Sep 25 '18 at 17:25
  • @ZeissIkon: Well, apparently no smart phones, internet or high-resolution screens. It could be 2018, but it could be earlier. It could also be deliberately indeterminate, which would be an answer. – ThePopMachine Sep 25 '18 at 17:27
  • And yet, other tech well in advance of ours. Some things are 1980s equivalent, others are beyond 2020. Sounds like, well, an alternate present. Mind you, now I'm going to have to watch it... – Zeiss Ikon Sep 25 '18 at 17:29
  • If the music is any indication, it's at least 1984 (the clip I saw had "Out of Touch" by Hall and Oates playing, and that's the year that was released). Of course, they could be listening to an 80s station, or the timeframe for the song's release in their world could be different. The clip definitely had a 1980s feel to it to me, but that was less than a minute's worth of the show. – RDFozz Sep 26 '18 at 18:00
3

Officially they said :

Set in a world somewhat like our world, in a time quite similar to our time

And from thrillist:

"To me, it's not our timeline," Somerville says. "It's our zeitgeist of 2018 and it's a different history of technology. It's a different kind of version of our reality. So 2018 zeitgeist, but a world where the microchip was never invented, maybe something like that." Nothing else made clear in or out of universe. IT's just seems like take place in an alternate present reality.

Somerville explains he and Fukunaga were looking for the "analog version" of trends that would be familiar to today's audiences.

So it's just alternate present time.

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1

In episode 6, about 27 minutes into the episode, Dr. Greta Mantleray, Dr. James Mantleray's mother asks, "In what year were you born?" to which Dr. James Mantleray replies, "1977". The actor who plays Dr. James Mantleray, Justin Theroux, was born in 1971. From this, I would assume the series takes place around 2018, give or take a few years.

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1

Some other relevant quotes come from this interview with show runner Patrick Somerville:

Patrick Somerville, who wrote all 10 episodes of the drama, told The Hollywood Reporter that this bleak vision of New York was foundational to how he and new James Bond director Cary Joji Fukunaga approached Maniac.

"One of the first conversations Cary and I had about the show was about the representation of reality — not just the delusional landscapes, but the actual reality of the show — being a little off, and a little heightened. We knew that we wanted to have this absurdist tone where anything is possible, but the emotional stakes were relatable. To me, it's our zeitgeist, but it's just a different history of technology. It's the universe where Betamax won and Steve Jobs got hit by a bus, or where a number of arbitrary things led to a slightly different series of events between the early 1980s and now."

which appears to suggest this is supposed to be a divergent present day.

enter image description here

In one standout absurdist moment in this wonky New York, a tour guide points out a winged "Statue of Extra Liberty" across the water (seen above). "New York needed more liberty!" Somerville joked, before offering a clarification. "I saw some people writing about it, and that is actually not the harbor. The camera is pointing north in that shot, so in the Maniac world, the Statue of Liberty still exists, and the Statue of Extra Liberty also exists. Someone decided that we needed another one."

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