Ben Stiller's 'Severance': A different view of current modern life

In the series, the employees of the Lumon company go through the treatment of placing a chip in their head in order to separate their private life from their business life and to be more productive

by Sededin Dedovic
Ben Stiller's 'Severance': A different view of current modern life
© Apple TV/ YOutube channel

Severance is a science fiction psychological thriller series that attracted the attention of the audience due to its innovative concept - the separation procedure (severance). Created by Dan Erickson and directed by Ben Stiller, the first season of this Apple TV+ show has nine stunning episodes, with a confirmed second season on the horizon.

Every element of Severance is top notch, with an impressive cast including Christopher Walken, John Turturro, Patricia Arquette and more. The series centers on Mark Scout (Adam Scott), an employee of the controversial Lumon Corporation who underwent a medical procedure called "severance".

This method involves implanting a chip in an employee's head to create a mental divide between their private and work lives. In this way, employees do not remember their personal life while they are at work, and vice versa.

Mark, who in his personal life was struggling with the grief of his deceased wife, decided on severance pay as a way to escape the pain for at least half of his waking hours. However, a sudden visit from a former colleague named Pete throws Mark into a web of conspiracy, both personally and professionally.

Apple+ Severance© ONE Media Coverage / Youtube channel

Mark and his severed colleagues enter the elevator at the start of their work day at the Lumon Building. While driving, the embedded chip activates, essentially turning their "outer" self into their "inner self." This achieves the perfect balance – all personal problems, emotions, burdens or anxiety remain outside the workplace, and employees cannot discuss work matters after working hours, they have no idea what they are actually doing.

Of course, as the series progresses, we discover that things are far more complex, with each of the vividly portrayed characters navigating the work environment in their own unique way. The series may develop a little slower, but that's why the characters are "developed" a lot, and during the series you will surely fall in love with some of them.

Apple+ Severance© ONE Media Coverage / Youtube channel

Irving and Dylan are dutiful, rule-abiding employees at the firm and find some degree of satisfaction in their corporate roles. Newly hired Helly (Britt Lower) persistently tries to get fired or run away and she is one of the most interesting characters because of her adventurous spirit.

Her inner self clearly regrets the choices her outer self has made, and it soon becomes apparent that Mark, beneath his indulgent and cheerful facade, harbors doubts just as strong as she does. Mark's growing dissatisfaction with the corporation's treatment of Helly becomes the catalyst for his rebellion, and his motivation to work steadily declines.

Apple+ Severance© ONE Media Coverage / Youtube channel

Severance will draw comparisons to other sci-fi series and office comedies, but it still maintains a distinct identity. The show is undeniably intricate, with numerous functional details and symbols scattered throughout the series, so if you want to watch this series while scrolling your phone then skip it.

The creators have come up with an intriguing and original premise, masterfully expanding it in different but equally captivating directions. Many of us struggle in the capitalist world, struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

This shared experience fosters a strong sense of connection with the narrative of the series and the characters in which you will definitely recognize yourself. Humor often takes the form of corporate satire, poking fun at group photos, team-building exercises, and the office party with the obligatory smile that everyone secretly hates.

The show also cleverly highlights the absurdity of corporate norms and rewards, exemplified by Dylan's relentless pursuit of meaningless accolades. The pervasive sterility of the offices and the minimalist aesthetic further enhance the unsettling atmosphere and shroud the corporation in mystery.

Apple+ Severance© ONE Media Coverage / Youtube channel

The Lumon corporation itself is epitomized by the austere and rarely smiling Mrs. Cobel and her overly smiling sidekick Milchick, both steadfast in their devotion to Lumon's founder and his principles.

The central enigma revolves around the true nature of Lumon's operations - what exactly do they do, and what purpose do the cryptic numbers sorted by laid-off employees serve? This mystery, along with the arrival of Pete, who possesses disturbing knowledge of Lumon's sinister intent, drives the plot and keeps us hooked.

Pete has gone through an impossible reintegration procedure, but Mark doesn't recognize him in his private life. Patience is required while the narrative and plot mechanics develop, so give the series a chance and watch at least the first three episodes at once.

Because once the plot is established, the series becomes a completely immersive experience. The thought-provoking script, delivered in a way that is at once intriguing and occasionally grim, forces us to confront questions about free will.