The Apple TV+ series Severance presents a world where office workers have their minds in two personalities: one who only remembers what happens at work and one who only remembers what happens outside. Science fiction author John Kessel likes the show’s inventive premise.
“After we saw the first episode, I said to my wife, ‘This is one of the smartest shows I’ve seen in a long time,'” Kessel says on episode 509 of the podcast Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy. “I think it’s – at least during this first season – as high as things like Breaking Bad. I think it’s really classic.”
Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy host David Barr Kirtley agrees that Severance is a standout series. “This is my favorite show of the past two years,” he says. “I think you have to go back to something like Devs or Dark for something I loved as much as this.”
author Sara Lynn Michener enjoy how Severance puts a unique twist on the idea of using robots or clones for unpleasant tasks. “This is clearly something we’ve seen over and over in science fiction,” she says. “Who are the slaves? Who are the group of disposable people? And so what this show does is create that concept by literally splitting yourself in half, and having that side of yourself something that kind of kicks you aside. It’s really disturbing.”
Science fiction author Anthony Hac looks forward to season 2 of Severance, but worries that the show may be stretching its story over too many episodes. “I felt like the pace slowed down a bit halfway through the season, and I wonder if there’s an even better version of this, which is the ‘one season and done’ story,” he says.
Listen to the full interview with John Kessel, Sara Lynn Michener and Anthony Ha on episode 509 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
John Kessel on Franz Kafka:
We’ve watched a whole season and we still don’t know what they’re doing at this company. They are sort of rounding up and removing “bad” numbers. I keep thinking: is this a metaphor? Does this have to do with something else? The whole idea of the cult and the great founder, all that stuff is really intriguing to me. It reminds me of Kafka, with The Trial of The Castle. In The Castle, there are people in the castle who run the business, and you never get into the castle – you don’t know who they are or what they’re doing up there. I don’t know if Dan Erickson had that in mind specifically, but there’s a lot of metaphorical stuff going on here that’s very interesting to me.
Sara Lynn Michener on Patricia Arquette:
Patricia Arquette does a fantastic job on this show. She actually plays two different characters, but she is not separated. She purposely has two different characters and two different names, because she’s high enough in the company to do that. Her work character is this very creepy, rigid, obsessive person, and then in her “neighbor” she comes across as a crazy cat lady – she dresses completely different from her other character. So it’s really an amazing performance from Patricia Arquette as she captures both sides of this very disturbing, unnerving, crazy person.
Anthony Ha on set design:
The visual style isn’t about the “Googleplex, brightly colored, all-glass, open floor plan” Silicon Valley ethos, but it’s much more about this older style of working. That’s how I imagine the offices my parents went to. Just the fact that it’s a cubicle farm rather than a bunch of desks. I mean, I think there’s logic in the world for that, because if they all had laptops and sat down and could get on the internet immediately, that would kind of negate the whole purpose of being fired, but I think there’s also a emotional logic is to it. It should feel like a nightmare of what office life is, as opposed to a realistic representation of what it is today.
David Barr Kirtley on characterization:
There is a constant notion that the [characters] will somehow escape, and I don’t see a way that really works. Even when they’re told this is this exploitative process, it seems like if the layoff program were shut down and the chips were knocked out, they would in fact all die. If their agenda is basically “we’d rather all be dead than work for the rest of our lives,” that makes sense, but I feel like that idea is pushed into the background in the show. It seems like they don’t all want to die. It seems like they have some hope of escaping, and I’m not sure what they think is going to happen.
More great WIRED stories
Go back upstairs. Go to: beginning of article.
This post ‘Severance’ is a nightmarish vision of office life
was original published at “https://www.wired.com/2022/04/geeks-guide-severance”