After canceling my Netflix account, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time outside of the big red streaming machine. Yeah, last week Netflix didn’t bring me back, because I felt no pain at all about missing out on one of Netflix’s great originals, like the much-hyped Inventing Anna (the only show I thought be able to get me back) – which actually failed to create any FOMO for me.
The same can also be said of other major recent Netflix releases. The Cuphead Show!, Space Force Season 2, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) failed to get that reader buzzing on social media. And without the pressure of being left out of the conversation, I’ve had another week off Netflix.
And since I’ve had all this time to watch things that aren’t on Netflix, I’ve managed to carve out some time for one of the least-watched streaming services I’m already paying for: Apple TV Plus (which I get with my Apple One plan). Last week was also a great time for me to dig into Apple TV Plus, as Friday saw the debut of the new (slightly) sci-fi drama Severance, a show that might be the only thing I’m talking about for the next month. .
As it’s available on Apple TV Plus, you can try Severance for free with 7-day free trial from Apple. So, let me explain why you need to check out Severance. Don’t take my word for it either, Severance has a 97% score on Rotten Tomatoes right now, with the “Certified Fresh” sticker.
Separation is more than Black Mirror
In the beginning, Severance drew a lot of comparisons (myself included) to Black Mirror. This makes sense, because Severance is built around a hypothetical technology that allows people to disconnect the work and life sides of their memory.
After you leave you never think about your personal life when you’re at work, something for all the bosses agonizing over so-called time theft (some think it’s sickening that we get paid to have jobs where every second is not devoted to work), and you never think about your professional life when you are at home.
And so it’s not hard to imagine an episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror based on “separation”, because this technology is really a relatable thing that belongs in a dystopian version of our own world. The Lumon offices where Severance takes place look awfully minimalist, in a way that reminds me a lot of the Black Mirror style guide.
But at the same time, as evidenced by Lumon’s computers, it’s very retro.
But by pitching Severance’s idea over an entire season of a show, not just an anthology episode, its characters and vibe have more time to develop. And that allows Severance to be an amazing show. Right now, after watching the first two episodes of Severanc, . I’m at a point with Severance where I think it could topple Yellowjackets and Peacemaker as my personal favorite show of 2022.
So far, that’s largely down to the premise that was brought to life by director and executive producer Ben Stiller and creator Dan Erickson. They created this living, breathing, arguing, frustrated world where the act of separation is a hotly debated act. And it all creates a world of conflict for Adam Scott’s character, Mark Scout, who rises through the ranks at Lumon.
Beyond this point, there are spoilers for Severance on Apple TV Plus:
Why Severance is a must watch
I should have known that Adam Scott (Party Down, Parks and Recreation) was going to deliver the goods in this lead role. What I didn’t realize was that this performance would be a far cry from Scott’s normal work.
Scott’s character, Mark Stout, is still recovering from a really bad breakup, and he’s been accused of only agreeing to a split because of that breakup. As if he was so broken by the end of this relationship that he wanted to hide from his personal life for 8 hours a day. Not that his work experience is that great anyway, as evidenced by how badly he handles a work friend leaving Lumon – prompting him to throw away all the framed photos of Stout and his co-workers together, of all their offices.
Throughout the show, however, no matter where we see Stout, it doesn’t seem like he has a work-life balance. Instead, he has a situation where he seems to be constantly muted. I’m not a therapist, but I would go so far as to say he’s depressed. And we learn the unintended consequence of separation: if your working and non-working memories are cut off, those sides of yourself are essentially two people.
And so the “outie” (you outside the office) and the “innie” (you in the office) just live those lives, on a loop. Thinking about this for more than a second, you realize that you have almost created a clone of yourself who is doomed to live only at work.
Adam Scott absolutely shows how depressing it all can be, including how sad his “outie” is. Because as pleasant as a hypothetical life without work may seem – imagine walking out of the office immediately after entering it – the sweet parts of life are especially sweet because of the contrast with the bitter.
And Severance didn’t even reveal his mysteries
On top of that, there’s a secret mystery unfolding in Lumon. This business is even scarier than we know of, as evidenced by Mark’s friend Petey, who’s gone and tries to get his former co-worker to understand what’s wrong. And that’s just what I saw after watching the first two episodes.
And, so, I’m sitting here wondering when my “outie” will ever be able to watch Episode 3 of Severance. What mysteries, exactly, are hidden inside Lumon? The tension of the world of Severance is so interesting and unique, and I think it also sits above most of the best shows on Netflix.
Severance (the series) doesn’t feel safe in the best way. Its conflict and misery has hit harder than any Netflix Original I’ve seen recently, and so it’s a perfect example of why you shouldn’t just be thinking about “what’s on Netflix” but asking yourself “what else is there?” Sticking to Netflix almost equals an “innie” life. You don’t know what you’ll cut yourself off from.