Severance’s first season is a wonderfully tense workplace horror story
In the age of binge-watching and television seasons that drop all at once, Severance feels unique: it’s a show you definitely don’t want to watch in one go.
Despite the veneer of a banal workplace drama, Severance is an incredibly tense sci-fi horror series where that tension only builds over the course of the show’s nine episodes.
Each new chapter is a chance to see something more messed up and discover the dark depths the capitalist machine is willing to sink to.
You’re going to want some space in between to let it all soak in — and maybe catch your breath a little.
The show centers on a relatively new procedure called, naturally, severance, which splits a worker’s brain in two.
This allows people to essentially skip work for eight hours a day and focus on their outside life.
The work self, meanwhile (the two are colloquially referred to as “innies” and “outies”), is stuck in a life that is nothing but work. Their entire lives are contained to the office.
The technology allows memories to be spatially dictated.
Your life and memories are yours right up until you hop in the elevator at Lumon Industries, go down to the severed floor, and get to work.
We’re introduced to the concept through Mark (Adam Scott).
On the outside, Mark is grieving the loss of his wife, and he signed up to be severed in hopes of avoiding those feelings for at least part of the day.
On the inside, he’s the chipper department head of the macrodata refinement division at Lumon, where he and three other employees spend all day long doing something.
It’s never actually clear what their job is, though they’re reassured the work is mysterious and important. It mostly involves finding “scary” numbers on a bewildering grid.
Initially, it’s easy to see the appeal of severing. Work sucks. Who wouldn’t want to cut that drudgery out of their lives and focus on the good parts?