Severance review – Ben Stiller’s Apple TV+ dystopian series is a masterpiece

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The word masterpiece is often overused in television criticism, and, well, everywhere. However, in the case of this show it doesn’t feel like hyperbole – if anything it feels understated.

Severance isn’t like most other shows you see. It is so excellently crafted that you lose yourself within it. And the more you watch, the more entangled you become within its web. It’s one of those shows that when you switch off, it stays with you for a long time afterwards in the back of your mind. It’s definitely a thinker this one…

Produced and directed by Ben Stiller (he’s not actually in the show) this is a dystopian nightmare that unfolds before your eyes.

What is Severance about?

The story is based on a man called Mark. After his wife dies he undergoes a new procedure called Severance. This surgery allows his consciousness to be split between his work life and his home life – but neither of these consciousnesses are able to communicate with the other. Essentially, one Mark is always at work, and the other Mark is always at home. When he gets into the lift at the mysterious Lumon Industries each day, he switches between being his “outie” self and his “innie” self. Yes, I know it’s rather confusing. Watch the video review (below) and you’ll get a better idea of what’s happening.

Down in the basement Adam works with a small number of other “severed” colleagues who are all in a data department, literally pushing numbers around a screen. Although at first this world seems just mainly weird, it at least seems functional and the people within it relatively happy. But quite quickly we learn that all is not well both inside and outside Lumon and the people who have been severed begin to ask questions about their purpose.

What comes next is a thriller with a lot of twists and turns against the backdrop of an exquisitely produced and staged piece of television.

Ben Stiller brings a masterful performance to the screen as director of much of the series in a world that is both enticing and intriguing but at the same time deeply claustrophobic and increasingly chilling. Every moment of this television programme has been thought through with care and attention; from the casting and the camera work, to the sets and the pacing, it’s very hard to find any faults with this captivating show.

Who’s in Severance?

Adam Scott plays the lead in the show, but he is far from the only person worth tuning in to Severance to see. He is joined by great performances from the likes of Christopher Walken, John Turttoro, Patricia Arquette and Britt Lower to name but a few – each and everyone of them bringing a unique charm to this Apple series.

How can I watch Severance?

The show is an Apple Original and can be watched wherever you are on Apple TV+.

And if you don’t have Apple TV+ and aren’t sure whether or not to take the plunge, now is a great time to try the platform as the streaming service has been producing some excellent shows recently. Notable examples include The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey starring Samuel L Jackson, WeCrashed starring two Oscar-winners in the shape of Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto, British spy drama Slow Horses starring Gary Oldman and the breathing Korean epic Pachinko to name but a few.

So why not give it a try? We also have video reviews of these shows (like the one below for Severance), as well as many other great TV shows and movies you can watch on the Screen OD YouTube channel .

Tim Glanfield

Tim Glanfield is a journalist, editor and broadcaster with more than 15 years experience writing about television, film and the entertainment business. He has been editor of RadioTimes.com, a writer for The Times (of London) and the Guardian as well as a freelance contributor to newspapers, magazines and websites across the world. He is author of the book Digital Economy or Bust: The Story of a New Media Startup and makes regular appearances on TV and radio in the UK.

Tim Glanfield has 35 posts and counting. See all posts by Tim Glanfield