Severance Review


What if you could have a job without ever working? Your day continues like normal, you commute your way to work, and as you enter at 9 am, everything shifts slightly, and, suddenly, the clock reads 5 pm and you have the rest of the day ahead of you.. As if nothing happened. Despite this, you receive a paycheck all the same. What if it required an invasive brain procedure to make it possible?

To some, this might sound cool, whereas others may find the surgery off-putting. However, the question still remains: Would you take that job?

“Severance,” released on Feb. 18, 2022 directed by Ben Stiller and Aofie McArdle, hosted on Apple TV+. “Severance” is set in an alternate reality, often giving glimpses of a much larger picture. Most of the time is spent following the protagonist, Mark Scout (Adam Scott), around the liminal offices of Lumon, the enigmatic company he works for. Mark has undergone the “Severance Procedure,” making it so that he does not carry work memories out and non-work memories in, and from the onset it is very obvious that something is wrong. Mark works in the MDR department, macrodata refinement, endlessly moving mysterious numbers into strange boxes. Quickly, it is established that Mark’s best friend and co-worker, Petey (Yul Vazquez), has unexpectedly left Lumon for unknown reasons and is now being replaced by Helly R, played by Britt Lower.

Having asked around, a sizable number of people who have attempted to watch “Severance” fizzled out around episode 3; it is not for everyone. It is no secret that “Severance” revolves around a central mystery, often referred to as a ‘mystery box.’ Something that I have noticed as a contributing factor to people losing interest, what I felt as a strength of the show but undeniably a flaw for many others, is its way of conveying information. There is very little straight exposition, and the viewer learns nearly everything as the characters learn or mention it in normal conversation. For the first few episodes, it may be a struggle to figure out the relationships between characters, and some may miss the moment a character is referred to as “mom.” Rewatching an episode or a few is almost a necessity, and you are guaranteed to notice new details each rewatch. So, if you happen to be a sleepy parent or find yourself distracted.,you will have a more difficult viewing. Set aside some free time or drink a little extra coffee; it really is worth your attention.

I absolutely loved “Severance”; 10/10; a new favorite. I could not get enough; the constraints of time and routine prevented me from indulging as much as I would have liked, which forced me to mull over what I had just witnessed. “Severance” is built around its main existential abstract questions, but that does not mean any of its characters are put on the backburner. Its abstract-ness is about its characters, and your initial conceptions of characters that you may develop will be challenged frequently, as you learn more about the people, and the struggle they all share. One major strength of the show was the casting is phenomenal, including the likes of John Turturo and Christopher Walken, whose character interactions are something you did not know you needed, and something you must see for yourself. A big reason why I loved Severance was its heavy, all encompassing questions, which I just have not seen being tackled in a well-funded production. Every time I was worried that the show would not handle a given concept or question, my concerns were proven to be unfounded. At the risk of turning some people away, anyone remotely interested in philosophy needs to watch this show, but even if that does not really tickle your fancy, you will still be able to enjoy the show to the fullest extent.