Television Review: Severance Season 1

I know there are a lot of different streaming platforms out there. Too many, I’d say. And I also know that of all the platforms out there, Apple TV+ is bad on many different levels. Their app is infuriatingly awful. When I’m watching a show on the platform, unless I’m bingeing it, it’s inordinately difficult for me to find the next episode. They don’t have much in the way of a back catalog. Almost everything on there is stuff that they made specifically for the platform. And so for the first while, there just wasn’t that much.

But lately? It feels like all that Apple money is beginning to pay off.

You’ve got Ted Lasso and For All Mankind, both of which I’ve really enjoyed. You’ve got the Best Picture Oscar winner, CODA, and there are a slew of other shows that I’m rapidly adding to my watch list. The one that I just finished, Severance, had an absolutely riveting first season.

It’s very much in the line of other “mystery” shows like Lost or Westworld. Shows that aren’t mysteries in a classical sense, where you’re trying to figure out who the killer is, but rather in an “I have no idea what’s happening in this, and I want to figure it out” sort of vein. It takes place in a world where people can be “severed,” which basically splits them into two personalities, neither able to communicate with the other. When one half of the severed person is in control, the other has no clue what’s going on at all. When they switch, it’s as if no time has passed for them at all, and they have no recollection of anything that’s been happening while they were severed.

Naturally, people use this to avoid work.

Well, they specifically use it to sever themselves and then have their severed half do all the work while they only need to worry about living life. But for their severed half, all they know is work. It helps that they wake up with no real recollection of anything at all when they’re first severed. They don’t know who they are, where they are, or why they are. And so in many ways they’re like children, and treated as such by their supervisors. Still, the whole concept doesn’t go down well with some of them, as one might expect.

The show’s a slow burn, developing some of the lives of the characters both inside work and outside it. And (as one might expect, with a second season on the way) it definitely doesn’t conclude everything by the end of the season. Answers just lead to more questions, as is so often the case in shows in this genre. That makes it difficult to really evaluate the show, since much of the final verdict rests on “do the show makers actually have any idea of what the real answers to all these mysteries are, or were we just strung along for the ride?”

But as far as first seasons go, this is a doozy of one, and I really enjoyed it. (Directed by Ben Stiller, of Meet the Parents fame, no less.) I gave it a 9/10, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next season.


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