SEVERANCE: SEASON ONE
Starring: Adam Scott, John Turturro, Zach Cherry, Britt Lower, Tramell Tillman, Patricia Arquette, Jen Tullock, Dichen Lachman, Michael Chernus, and Christopher Walken
Creator: Dan Erickson
Echoing Black Mirror by way of the hit video game Control, creator Dan Erickson’s Severance is a high-wire balancing act of excellence across the board. Its design is minimal but meaningful, as entirely three-dimensional characters navigate its mystery so as to make audiences hang on every moment. Pitch-perfect performances (especially from Adam Scott and John Turturro) utter crisp writing so fine-tuned that the bombshells dropped and cliffhangers presented feel earned every time. Ben Stiller might be an even better director than he is an actor, and Apple TV+ has now fully established itself as an essential streaming service.
With its high concept, sharp satire, and puzzle box mystery, I went into every episode of Severance wanting to like it; However, it’s such a slow burn that I was on the verge of giving up almost every week. It just requires so much patience and commitment since it doesn’t really pick up until the seventh episode, which is pretty late in the game for a season with only nine episodes. On the other hand, as soon as I finished the finale, I definitely wanted more. Will I still feel that way when Season Two drops next year? I don’t know if I’m that committed.
Severance is just one of those shows that gripped me instantly. Its concept could have easily been way too complicated, yet everything becomes clear pretty quickly. The entire ensemble is fully committed to this puzzle box of a show, and the writers and directors keep the show suspenseful and wholly entertaining. Meanwhile, the score and production values contribute to the creepy and bizarre atmosphere that help carry the story. After each episode, I was desperate to find out what would happen next, and the way the season ends is almost rude because I need Season Two right this second.