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Home #Hwoodtimes Split Memories: AppleTV+’s ‘Severance’ Masterfully Takes Work-Life Separation to the Extreme

Split Memories: AppleTV+’s ‘Severance’ Masterfully Takes Work-Life Separation to the Extreme

by Bob Grimm

Ben Stiller continues to carve a nice niche for himself as a TV director with Apple TV+’s Severance, his so-far excellent follow-up to the extremely well-done Escape at Dannemora.

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The severely underrated Adam Scott stars as Mark, a man who has chosen to go through a procedure called “severance” at his job. It’s not about getting fired; in this dystopian future, you can opt to have a brain procedure that completely separates your work-time memories from your real-life recollections. Memory-wise, you essentially become two people—one person who is at work, and another person who is living life otherwise.

You could be a homicidal maniac outside of work—and your work self wouldn’t know it. When you come back from the weekend, you feel as if you were only at your work desk, because your memories drop out during the elevator ride to the office. (Come to think of it, I kind of feel like that on Mondays without the “severance” procedure.)

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It’s a brilliant idea, presented well by Stiller (who directs six of the nine episodes) and crew. As of this writing, two of the episodes have aired, and the sinister possibilities have only been hinted at thus far. There’s a darkly comic, satirical tone that reminds a bit of Brazil, with maybe just a touch of the opening minutes from Joe vs. the Volcano.

John Turturro is great in a supporting role as a tight-assed co-worker. Christopher Walken makes an early appearance—and looks to be a significant part of future episodes. Britt Lower does strong work as Helly, a new employee under Mark’s tutelage.

TV series are where it’s at now, and Stiller knows it; he wouldn’t be able to breathe like this in a two-hour feature project. The series (for which he also serves as executive producer) gives him nine episodes, nearly an hour long each, to get his vision across, and he excels in the format. I can’t wait to see where this one goes in the coming weeks.

Severance is streaming on Apple TV+, with new episodes being released on Fridays.

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Valerie Milano is the well-connected Senior Editor and TV Critic at TheHollywoodTimes.today, a website that aggregates showbiz news curated for, and written by, insiders of the entertainment industry. (@HwoodTimes @TheHollywood.Times) Milano, whose extraordinary talents for networking in the famously tight-clad enclave of Hollywood have placed her at the center of the industry’s top red carpets and events since 1984, heads daily operations of a uniquely accessible, yet carefully targeted publication. For years, Milano sat on the board as a chief organizer of the Television Critics Association’s press tours, held twice a year in Beverly Hills and Pasadena. She has written for Communications Daily, Discover Hollywood, Hollywood Today, Television International, and Video Age International, and contributed to countless other magazines and digests. Valerie works closely with the Human Rights Campaign as a distinguished Fed Club Council Member. She also works with GLSEN, GLAAD, Outfest, NCLR, LAMBDA Legal, and the Desert Aids Project, in addition to donating both time and finances to high-profile nonprofits. She has been an active member of the Los Angeles Press Club for a couple of years and looks forward to the possibility of contributing to the future success of its endeavors. Milano’s passion for meeting people extends from Los Feliz to her favorite getaway, Palm Springs. There, she is a member of the Palm Springs Museum of Art and a prominent Old Las Palmas-area patron.