Created by: Dan Erickson

Cast: Adam Scott, Britt Lower, Patricia Arquette

Living in a state of energetic expansion diluting yourself in life, in existence; feel and identify yourself permanently with the zest that makes your presence possible as a form in this universe. The flow of time is the essence of the so-called «life». And that’s what it’s all about, how to spend said time. 

How we spend time is part of this life. We are always looking at the window thinking about the dog that is doing nothing or the place where we would like to be; we see videos on the internet of how people have fun, travel and enjoy themselves. All those are some of the realities that we see, but that is not reality, or at least not the whole spectrum of reality, otherwise that reality would not work. 

Severance (2022)

It is no surprise that this vision of reality almost always appears during working hours. Where one tends to separate from oneself to cope with the ravages of monotony. Many hate their work, others don’t hate it, rather they hate where they do it or more commonly they hate who they work it with (coworkers, bosses, managers, etc.)   

But what if you didn’t have to subject yourself to the emotional burden of having to go to work and just live the rest of your day without carrying that stress? 

Maybe that question is not for you but for your other self, your “work persona” that “I” from work who is thinking about the sleeping dog. If that “person” is the one reading this, you may find the answer in this speculative sci-fi psychological thriller SEVERANCE. A mix between Being John Malvokch, Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind and Office Space 

What is Severance about? 

Severance, (Apple TV+) It is a TV series based on this reality where, by using a chip, it is possible to separate two personalities: that of work and that of your daily life without one knowing what the other is doing. This procedure is known as “severance”. Yes we know It’s an unusual premise. If you were paid to do it, would you do it? 

This project is brilliantly produced and directed by Ben Stiller and stars Adam Scott as Mark, Britt Lower as Helly, and Patricia Arquette as Harmony.  Also starrting John Turturro and Christopher Walken. 

The plot 

The events take place in Lumon, a powerful corporation with mysterious intentions and one of the most disturbing dystopian scenarios in the world of streaming. Lumon is that workplace where everyone wants to work, but no one wants to be. It is the first place that offers the “severance” system, which, outside of this work environment, is an issue that polarizes people (as we already see in many social contexts today) such as the legalization of weapons, abortion etc. 

Adam Scoot & Britt Lower Severance (2022)
Adam Scoot & Britt Lower Severance (2022)

the interesting thing about this series is that it brilliantly showcases the psychology of several of the personalities that one can find in a work office: The one who obeys all the rules, the one who loves his job too much, the one who wants to flee at all costs, the one who works more to satisfy his bosses than himself, and the one who doesn’t care what happens. We see how all these personalities come together, showing how sometimes without planning it, your co-workers become your friends without having anything in common» 

The conflict 

The conflict of the series begins when we realize that none of the severed personalities can have communication with each other. This makes the series more ominous as we see the characters being subjected to psychological torture and generally being used as tools rather than people. This makes one of the characters not wanting to continue in that work enviroment  but her other «self» doesn’t know or doesn’t care. Lumon can represent a particularly hellish version of what it’s like to work in an office. You don’t have to stray too far from reality to represent the cruelty or indifference of any job. 

Severance (2022)

One of the flaws is that it mixes Dark humor with intellectual humor and sometimes you don’t know in what state of mind to be in. But saying it fails is an overstatemet since the general mood of the series does not change. Another detail are the loose ends. We enter the story of the series already started and although little by little it fills the empty spaces, many of them remain unanswered, but that in the end does not influence. 

While the workplace sitcom has been a TV staple for decades, no show about work has so accurately captured just how damaging work can be in real life. Not all bosses are like Leslie Knope or Michael Scott and most of us are not like Jim Halpert. 

Our Veredict on Severance

In the end Severance makes it clear, as Tyler Durden would say: «You are not your job», there must be a balance between work and life because much of what we do does not happen outside of us, but rather on the inside. One of the more revealing cuotes is when  Mark tells Helly “if you only hope to have things that matter to you outside of Lumon, it is because you know that your work is not one of them”. 

Adam Scott in Severance (2022)
Adam Scott in Severance (2022)

Severance is weird yeah but it’s scarily real because it is anchored in this reality: the suffering, the stress, the anger, the frustration; all of that is real and that is why this show is very good. Roger Waters was right when he said «Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way» but it no longer applies only to the English It is now the common denominator of the whole world. 

One of the best Speculative Sci-Fi shows of recent years

Written by Glenn Marte