Have you seen the Apple TV+ series “Severance”? Color me obsessed with this smart and suspenseful exploration of memory and identity. I’d put it in a category with “Stranger Things”, “The X-Files”, and “Twin Peaks” for imaginative brilliance, haunting visuals, and on-screen chemistry.
Imagine yourself – suddenly, jarringly – waking up on an office table in a conference room. You’re wearing a put-together outfit appropriate for an office. You’re disoriented and distressed.
A voice emerges from a speaker on the table, asking questions, and you realize you don’t remember anything about yourself, even your name. You’ll come to learn that you’ve been “severed”. Your original self – the part that has a life outside of work – has decided to undergo a procedure that allows work and personal identities to be separated. Sharing the same body, neither the work self nor the personal self has any knowledge of the other’s daily life.
Would you accept this new reality, or would you rebel? (“Severance” asks what courage might look like in these circumstances, and how it might be different for different people.)
Why would a person choose to be severed? (“Severance” explores the lengths a person might go to in order to diminish pain – or in search of truth.)
Why would a company want or need employees to undergo such a radical procedure? (“Severance” explores the ambitions of visionaries and zealots who want to change the world.)
What if the interests of the two selves begin to diverge? (“Severance” explores questions of moral responsibility to others).
Who are we without our memories, without our past? (“Severance” explores a question that has been asked as long as humans have told stories).
“At once minimalist and epic, an increasingly tense exploration of free-will and corporate sadism. It gains a thriller-like momentum as it moves along, and can be disturbing enough to be nightmarish, yet still maintains a modicum of mischievous wit,” writes John Doyle of The Globe and Mail.
You’ll want to take this show one episode at a time for maximum weirdness and wonder.