Severance Season 1 Review: Apple TV’s Gripping Series

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The Revival of the “Mystery Box” Genre

Apple TV’s latest series, Severance, offers audiences a compelling mystery workplace thriller that delves into the concept of individuality in the modern workspace. In a post-Lost era, where audiences were divided by the enigmatic six-season show, there has been a noticeable absence of “mystery box” programming. Such programming slowly unraveled its mysteries over time, leaving viewers to speculate on the many questions it posed. While shows like HBO’s Westworld and the Twin Peaks revival on Showtime have attempted to fill this void, television has mostly leaned towards traditional storytelling rooted in reality or limited series with self-contained narratives. However, Severance marks a triumphant return to the mystery genre, presenting a masterfully crafted narrative that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

The Enigmatic World of Severance

Severance follows the story of Mark, portrayed by Adam Scott, who works for Lumon on the Severance program—a unique program that aims to separate employees’ personal lives from their work lives the moment they step through the company’s doors. After being promoted to lead the Macrodata Refinement team, Mark finds himself entangled in a web of intrigue when a new employee named Helly (Britt Lower) joins the company. Together, Mark and his team embark on a journey to discover their true identities outside the workplace and unveil the hidden truths about their employer.

An Immersive and Hypnotic Experience

The first episode of Severance opens with a mesmerizing shot of a woman passed out on a pristine white desk, accompanied by a haunting score by Theodore Shapiro. This hypnotic scene sets the stage for the rest of the series, drawing inspiration from various sources. The architectural aesthetics of the 2019 video game “Control” and the unnerving atmosphere of 70s political conspiracy thrillers, such as The Parallax View, enhance the richness and originality of Severance’s narrative and themes. Ben Stiller asserts his directorial prowess in six out of the nine episodes of the first season. His confident touch elevates the series, building on his previous stylistic approaches and culminating in a tense season finale characterized by handheld camera work and claustrophobic shots. These stylistic choices not only showcase the diversity of Severance but also create a sharp contrast to the calm direction of earlier episodes, enhancing the unnerving atmosphere within Lumon Industries’ modernist work environment.

The Complex Motivations and Political Intrigue

As the series progresses, it delves deeper into the personal motivations of the central characters, shedding light on why they willingly partake in the Severance procedure. Simultaneously, Severance explores the political landscape that pervades each episode, showcasing protests against the controversial program, as well as the sinister support it garners from shady politicians. Punk bands voice their rebellion against the system created by Severance, adding another layer of dissent and resistance. The series not only examines the dangers of ignoring internalized trauma, as Mark uses the workplace as an escape from the loss of his wife, but also exposes the inherent flaws of modern-day workplaces, which strip away individuality from employees. Echoing the unsettling reports about Amazon warehouses and the pervasive surveillance and exploitative working conditions, Severance taps into the haunting reality that many face in the contemporary work environment.

A Skillful Balance of Mystery and Revelation

By the time Severance reaches its masterful season finale, it becomes clear that this story is merely the beginning of a larger narrative. While some shows may falter under the weight of countless questions, Severance maintains a delicate balance between providing answers and introducing new mysteries. It acknowledges the viewers’ craving for resolution while tantalizingly expanding the scope of the overarching narrative. Approaching the first season of a long-term story with the expectation of finding immediate answers to every question would be fruitless. However, Severance succeeds in captivating its audience, thanks to its engaging mystery, skillful pacing, and strategic release of information. It immerses viewers in a beautifully original world, leaving them yearning for the next season.


Severance stands as a testament to the rarity of truly captivating television. With its gripping plot, the series takes viewers on a mesmerizing journey that effortlessly satisfies their cravings for thrills and suspense. Writer and showrunner Dan Erickson, in this first installment of what promises to be a multi-season story, has exceeded expectations, delivering a compelling viewing experience. The wait for season two will undoubtedly be a painful one as audiences eagerly anticipate uncovering the next chapter in this enthralling saga.


1. How can I watch Severance?

Season 1 of Severance is exclusively available for streaming on Apple TV+. Simply subscribe to Apple TV+ to enjoy this captivating mystery workplace thriller.

2. Are there any other shows similar to Severance?

While the “mystery box” genre may be relatively scarce, there are a few other shows that share similarities with Severance. HBO’s Westworld and the Twin Peaks revival on Showtime are notable examples that offer intricate narratives and enigmatic storytelling.

3. Does Severance address contemporary workplace issues?

Yes, Severance tackles pertinent issues prevalent in modern workplaces. It sheds light on the dangers of internalized trauma, explores the exploitation of workers, and criticizes the erosion of individuality within corporate environments.

4. Who are the main actors in Severance?

Severance boasts a talented ensemble cast, including Adam Scott, Zach Cherry, John Turturro, and Britt Lower. Their stellar performances further enhance the viewing experience of this thrilling series.

5. Is Severance suitable for high school audiences?

Severance is primarily targeted towards adult audiences, but high school students with an appreciation for mystery and thriller genres may also find it intriguing. Parental discretion is advised due to some mature themes and content.