TV SHOW REVIEW - Severance: Season 1
By The Masked Medic
So the last TV season I had to breeze through to make it to this show. Now very rarely do recommendations supersede whatever I have on my to-read/watch list, but both my brother and sister stated that this was one of the best shows they’d ever seen and naturally my interest was piqued. I’m talking about ‘Severance’, another show created by Apple and directed by Ben Stiller. Yes, that Ben Stiller. I knew nothing about the show beforehand and I went in completely blind?
Season 1 of ‘Severance’ tells the story of a number of employees at a corporation called Lumon Industries. Lumon has created a procedure called ’severance’ whereby they separate people’s consciousness so that their work life and home life are split. Neither consciousness has access to the memories of the other, however, those that are working in the building, colloquially called ‘Innys’ are only conscious when the employees are in the building. Confusing I know. But a great concept. The show focuses on Mark S, a man who chose to start work at Lumon after the death of his wife. At the start of the show he finds himself promoted to be the head of Macrodata Refinement after the previous head and his best friend Petey leaves. Mark has to train a new employee, Helly R to work alongside himself and the rest of the team, Dylan G and Irving B. Helly very quickly begins to question the rules and finds herself in hot water with the team’s supervisor, Mr Milcheck and their boss, Harmony Cobel. After a failed attempt at quitting, Helly decides to up her tactics. Meanwhile, in the outside world, Mark is approached by Petey, who states that he still has memories of his work at Lumon. Naturally, Mark is sceptical as his outside personality doesn’t know Petey or if he can trust anything he’s saying, but he decides to follow on some leads. In the office, it soon appears that all the members of the Macrodata Refinement team are starting to become rebellious and despite several warnings and punishments, they continue to push the boundaries of their curiosity. Just what exactly is Lumin up to? And is there any way to tell their outside personalities, of their predicaments at work?
Okay, so I clearly have a niche of the kind of TV shows I watch and my siblings both encouraged me to start watching shows outside of the realm of superhero/fantasy dramas. They claimed that this was one of the best shows they’d ever seen and that I would feel the same way. They were absolutely right. Severance delivers on so many different fronts. If I consider the story alone, it’s very intriguing. The idea that you could essentially split your personality in order to not have to deal with certain factors in your life is ethically and morally challenging and the way that the show deals with the decisions made by the characters is fantastic. Secondly, there is a level of tension and mystery throughout which had me nervous in the best way possible. That last episode especially, was one of the best episodes of TV I’ve ever seen and it had a phenomenal cliffhanger. Damn it. There were certainly parts of the story where things took a bit of time to warm up and definitely some of the character arcs felt either forced or not fleshed out enough, but with a second season on the way, I’m sure some of those questions will be answered. My only issue is, having watched an Apple series already and spoken to a few people who have watched other series, Apple, unfortunately, has occasionally fallen into this trap of creating intriguing and impressive first seasons for shows which ultimately don’t live up to the hype in following seasons. I’m really hoping that doesn’t happen with this show!
So the show had a number of familiar faces as well as some newcomers. Leading the cast, as Mark S was Adam Scott. Now I know he’s had a number of major acting roles over the years, but for me, he will always be Will Ferrell’s brother in Stepbrothers, singing an acapella version of ‘Sweet Child of Mine’. Since he is the only character where we get to see both work and outside personalities, he does a fantastic job of acting in a way that distinguishes the two. Also, recognizable faces included John Turturro as Irving B and Christopher Walken as Burt G, the head of another department, Optics and Design. Turturro is a phenomenal actor, there’s no denying it, but we cannot ignore that despite top-quality performances he is and will always be Agent Simmons of Sector 7. Haha! Patricia Arquette played Harmony Cobel, and despite not seeing any of her previous work, I could appreciate why she’s racked up a decent amount of leading roles. Some of the faces I didn’t recognize included Zach Cherry and Britt Lower as Dylan G and Helly R respectively. Both also put in good performances. However, there was one performance that so outshone every other one in this show and it was Tramell Tillman as Seth Milcheck. I’ve never seen such an unhinged character who almost never does anything unhinged. Truly spectacular!
Look, there’s no point in me repeating things I’ve said before. Streaming services are the future and these companies aren’t messing around. Apple provides good budgets. Interestingly I have to say that, unlike See, Severance probably has less of a budget. That being said, the cinematography was amazing. The scenes of characters walking through the maze of corridors in the office were expertly shot. I also have to give props to the way that the filmographers shot the scenes of the severed characters entering the office. I couldn’t describe what they did, but it was done well. There was an entrance theme, but the music is outshone by the graphics. Top quality work!
Overall, yes. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen. If you’re looking to watch something that is going to keep you on the edge of your seat and challenge your intellect, then ‘Severance’ is the one for you. I really hope I don’t have to wait long for the next season!
Integral vs Filler Episodes: ★★★★