Severance is a mystery show that follows Mark Scout (Adam Scott), an employee for the mysterious company, Lumon. He is severed, meaning that due to his job, his memories are divided into two parts – his work-self, called an “innie,” and his home-self, called an “outie.” This means that he cannot remember what he does at work when outside of it and when at work, he can’t remember what he does at home.
Adam Scott, I believe gives his best performance here. He is best known as Ben Wyatt from the TV show, Parks and Recreation. His character, Mark, is in charge of the Micro-data Refinement team, which consists of Dylan (Zach Cherry), Irving (John Turturro), and a new employee, Helly (Britt Lower).
The show also stars Patricia Arquette and Christopher Walken. Arquette plays Mark’s boss, who crosses privacy boundaries when it comes to Mark. And Walken plays Irving’s love interest. Overall, the cast is great and I found that everyone was really effective in their roles.
Mark’s promotion and this new employee are unexpected. His work friend, Petey (Yul Vazquez), has disappeared, which makes Mark unnerved. His new employee, Helly, is immediately disturbed by not remembering her personal life and wants to quit her job. Her suspicion that Lumon is not what it appears to be spread to the rest of the team, which leads them into acts of rebellion.
Mystery ensues. Each episode leaves you wondering and eager to discover the answers. Of course, not everything is answered and there is still a lot to uncover. As we continue to call out our work culture in today’s time, Severance feels like an extreme version of tackling that. Lumon is a company that exploits its workers, has them work on tasks that they don’t even understand, and has a secretive and deceptive management team. Not to mention that they speak in reverence of the company’s founder like a god.
The cinematography and production design do a great job at capturing how cold this world is. The sleek, almost never-ending office hallways are modern but devoid of life. When Mark goes home from work, it’s usually cold and icy outside. There is also this cool aspect-ratio change that happens as the employees descend down in an elevator to the severed floor every day.
Ben Stiller is a frequent director of this series, and he really impressed me here. This is not his first time in the director’s chair of course, but he helped manage to create a highly unsettling atmosphere. But the kudos must really go to series creator and writer Dan Erikson for his creative vision.
The concept and story of the series are a bit hard to explain and difficult to discuss without further spoilers, however, I just found this world so intriguing and unique. I was riveted by each episode due to its mystery-box nature. Plus Adam Scott gives the performance of his career. Needless to say, I will be eagerly awaiting for the next season.
I give Severance season 1 an A.