Bureau 42 Review – Severance S01

Apple TV launched a show called Severence.  The show gives the story of workers who undergo “Severance”, where you separate your ‘Work life’ from your ‘home life’.  As you take the door into work, you no longer can remember who you are on the outside.  As one can expect, there is more to the story than we are told.

Cast and Crew

Series Directed by Ben Stiller and Aoife McArdle

Created by Dan Erickson

Adam Scott as Mark
Zach Cherry as Dylan
Britt Lower as Helly
Tramell Tillman as Milchick
Jen Tullock as Devon
Dichen Lachman as Ms. Casey
Michael Chernus as Ricken
John Turturro as Irving
Christopher Walken as Burt
Patricia Arquette as Harmony Cobel
Marc Geller as Kier Eagan


Mark leads a team of office workers whose memories have been surgically divided between their work and personal lives. When a mysterious colleague appears outside of work, it begins a journey to discover the truth about their jobs. (From IMDB)

High Point

The weirdness of the show sits on the border of absurdity and unbelievable, but never quite goes over into unbelievable.  It comes very close, but if one has worked in a white collar environment, the idea of working at a computer unendingly and not knowing what you are doing is not far fetched.

Low Point

This show has the feel of Lost (2004), in that there are a lot of mysteries and weirdness that is brought up, but since this was just the first season, never gets expanded on.  Additionally, there seems to be a lot of awkwardness and surreality that seems to be mistaken for comedy.

The Scores:

Originality: 5/6 This may be a sci-fi premise, with a dystopia based on office life, but we do not often get that grounded directly in our modern day real world.

Effects: 6/6 There isn’t any significant effects in the show, but they are all pulled off flawlessly.

Acting: 5/6 People have distinct personalities when they are ‘at work’ and ‘at home’, but their cores are the same.  This is portrayed well.

Emotional Response: 3/6 The characters can be odd, but I am not sure their feelings, while believable, are relatable more than they are just a curiosity.

Story: 4/6 Completely forgetting work when you go home, as well as having perfect office drones when at work, is interesting from a philosophical viewpoint.  Given the current status in the United States of many jobs underpaying workers causing both a worker shortage and a job shortage, it’s certainly timely.

Production: 6/6 Apple has dumped some money into getting the show to look convincing, and it shows.

Overall: 3/6 While the premise and mysteries are intriguing, until we see what the results of the mystery actually is, it is difficult to say if the story pays off.

In total, the first season of “Severance” receive 32/42

2 replies on “Bureau 42 Review – Severance S01”

  1. “Additionally, there seems to be a lot of awkwardness and surreality that seems to be mistaken for comedy.”

    And this is my hang-up with a lot of modern comedies (case in point, The Office). An acting & improv coach warned me about this years ago. People laugh at things that are either funny or things that make them uncomfortable. The former elicits a dopamine response that leaves people feeling good for a long time. The latter does not, it’s merely a coping mechanism (there’s a lesser dopamine response that is short-lived and helps you manage the moment). Too many modern writers lean on this awkwardness as comedy when it doesn’t work in the long term.

    • Ben Stiller, who directed Severance a lot, has a lot of things that also do that, but this felt like it knew it was awkward. Like they know this isn’t funny, it’s not supposed to be, the point is that it isn’t funny.

      At least this was how I took it. This has potential for a great payoff if everything turns out to be an interesting story. If it Losts me, I’m going be very annoyed with all of it.

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