From the opening sequence, Apple TV original Severance (which is directed and co-produced by Ben Stiller) grabs viewers and yanks them into its strange, mysterious and darkly comic world and refuses to let go during its various twists and turns.
Set largely within the offices of controversial mega-corporation Lumon Industries (an impossible underground labyrinth of intersecting corridors and office space), the show centres around freshly promoted office manager Mark (Adam Scott) and his small three-person team, including trainee Helly (Britt Lowe) who’s just started her new job. The catch, however, is that all employees on their floor have volunteered to undergo the severance procedure, an operation that separates an individual’s work memories from the rest of their mind. Whenever they enter their office premises, they instantly forget everything about who they are outside and vice versa. It’s a simple premise, excellently executed, that opens numerous avenues for exploration, with the moral and ethical concerns of the procedure being just the tip of the iceberg.
When Mark is confronted by his predecessor outside of the office, he’s thrown down a rabbit hole that’s set to uncover Lumon’s true intentions. Meanwhile, Helly becomes desperate to escape as another colleague (John Turturro) forms a strong friendship with someone from another department. Each plot thread is tightly wrapped within the rest to create an enthralling story that’s impossible to stop watching. There’s never a dull moment to be found here.
The comedy is likewise fantastic. Playing into the offbeat world, the humour strikes the perfect balance between absurd and menacing. The best way to describe the overall tone of this series is to imagine if Yargos Lanthimos were to helm an episode of Black Mirror in the style of The Office. The drama may unfold at a tantalisingly slow burn, but viewers will be glued to their screens with every shocking revelation and plot twist that this series has in store.
Severance is a smart, masterfully crafted and genuinely funny series that transports viewers into the bowels of a mysterious mega-corporation to uncover its sinister secrets while posing some philosophically rich quandaries along the way. This could well be one of the best shows of the year.
Severance is released on Apple TV+ on 18th February 2022.
Watch the trailer for Severance here: