I recently read on Twitter that if a headline prompts a question, the answer is almost, always no. I believe it to be the case cause Twitter is the second-best source to gather information, news, and knowledge (second only to Wikipedia).
The answer to the headline, in this case, is yes, but it’s a complicated one at that. Hear me out.
At this point, you probably fall in one of the two categories- seen Severance and loved it or heard of it and haven’t found your way to streaming it. At the outset, if you’ve seen it, you’ve already formed an opinion on the series. For the ones who haven’t yet streamed or heard of it, this may come in handy. Severance is Apple TV’s 2022 response to Black Mirror (2011–2019) on Netflix, or so say people who pushed me towards streaming it. I kept flirting with the idea of it but only got around to seeing it in the last few weeks between a hectic film fest schedule, assignments, personal Ls, and another round of Covid. It wasn’t an easy watch and I found myself trying too hard to enjoy it. However, I see why people around me loved it.
With its serious science-fiction dystopian vibe tied to the thematic pegs of consciousness, duality, work-life balance, corporate slavery, and ethical dilemma, Severance is immensely engaging. With limited characters and on-point repetition of acts (chase sequence between a male and a female character, far too many times), it may seem like an easy watch but it’s far from it. It does exactly what the series attempts to do to the characters who have undergone severance — break yourself into two. Severance will make one part of you watch the series as a casual viewer, filled with seemingly cerebral activities that take place day in and out in the series, meanwhile, the other part of you will constantly shapeshift and imagine yourself to be playing the role of those who have been severed. What would it be like to be broken into two versions, both carrying out their separate duties without knowing what’s going on in either’s life?
The series is a big philosophical question broken in the form of an intriguing creation (aka “severance”) offered by Lumon Industries, founded by Kier Eagan (Marc Geller). Despite his death, there is a sense of eerie cult-like worshipping and fan-following built by his successors within and outside his family by those who work for Lumon. “Severance” a process where the self is split into two, is offered by Lumon Industries to those who would like to participate in the proposed new order of the world by the Eagan to offer a high performance work-life and at the same time include a healthy balance to the mix (or so I have gathered in a brain fog addled stage). Mark (Adam Scott) who has undergone severance, to deal with the bereavement after his wife’s demise, is appointed supervisor to Helly (Britt Lower) in process of her orientation at Lumon. The series begins with this and leads its way into explaining the ins and the outs of life after severance with the employees who work there. The plot is filled with details, some as MacGuffins and other relevant inclusions to take the story forward. The severed employees have been fed some version of the story and there’s more at stake than they know. All that they do know are well-produced lies that these severed employees believe in while they work for Lumon.
Essentially, like any good sci-fi psychological thriller, Severance does a mega job at painting right from wrong with subtlety through minor cues, emotions, and actions. The dialogue doesn’t lead the chatter to advance the plot nor to inform the viewer as many times as you’d imagine, which makes Severance “smart” for viewers. People don’t want to be informed, they want to realize a piece of information casually thrown their way without fanfare and Severance does exactly that. The viewer, in turn, feels honoured that the creative team trusted their thinking and allowed them to connect the dots. In that sense, Severance isn’t a series for the lazy, be prepared to use your brain a tad bit more than what you’ve been doing when you stream stuff on Netflix often.
In a way, it’s not just Severance but Apple TV’s originals are a little more compelling; whether they deliver or not is another question, for another day. From a brief view of surfing the platform and watching an episode or two from a few series, I have observed that Apple TV is currently focusing on producing media that isn’t entirely for those of us who are dealing with Covid brain fog and for those who are in comatose.
Does that mean I endorse Severance? For sure, it’s a definite watch for when you want to feel as if there is a meaning to watching things. The series will answer that for you.
The series is available for streaming on Apple TV in India.
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