Maniac is a show about trying to fix your problems through any means necessary. The primary method of emotional relief explored in Maniac is a drug that’s being put through a clinical trial, but one character on the show is more adept at finding self-improvement through the path of affirmations and positive thinking. The self-help guru behind the trial, Greta Mantleray, is not based on a real person. However, the titles of her work will ring a bell for anyone who has perused the self-help section of their local book store.
Greta Mantleray, played by Sally Field, is a self-help guru who is assisting Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech in the trial that promises to cure participants of all of their mental woes in only three days. She’s also the mother of Dr. James Mantleray, played by Justin Theroux, who is the one of the scientists in charge of the trial. The relationship between the two is a breeding grounds for a discussion of the merits of improving one’s self through medicine compared to the merits of self-discipline, but Greta seems to come out on top when it comes to fame as a healer of others.
Greta’s self-help books feature upfront, confrontational titles that bear a striking resemblance to modern self-help books. One of Greta’s self-help books is published under the title I’m Okay, You’re a Bitch, per Vulture’s review, which is the show’s way of honing in on a peculiar trend in the world of published guides to betterment. I’m Okay, You’re A Bitch combines the genre of self-help with casual, profane language as a call to action. Books like The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson, F*ck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problemsby Dr. Michael I. Bennett and Sarah Bennett, and the subtitle-free Unf*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop show a wave of self-help books that combine their research with profane, light-hearted language.
While the popular self-help books of today combine profanities with positivity, Greta seems to take a slightly different approach judging by the title I’m Okay, You’re A Bitch. The suggestion of the title is that unlike a book like Unf*ck Yourself, which implies that the reader’s problems lie within themselves, I’m Okay, You’re A Bitch suggests that the reader is actually perfectly fine and it’s the world around them that is the cause of their problems.
If this ends up being the underlying philosophy behind Neberdine Pharmaceutical and Biotech, the trial may not end up being the one-pill-suits-all solution that they’re looking for. While there is merit to many self-help philosophies, the idea that Neberdine can alter the brain to subscribe to one specific philosophy of self-improvement — especially one crafted by a famous author looking to sell more of their own books — hints that Neberdine isn’t actually all that interested in fixing people, but could just be extensive marketing for Greta’s self-help empire. Greta Mantleray’s books may fit right in amongst most self-help book collections, but it’s probably for the best that there is no one in real life quite like her.