Severance Season 1 Episode 1: Good News About Hell Recap

This is a recap of the AppleTV+ series Severance, season 1 episode 1. My review of the season is HERE.

Severance is ostensibly a series about work-life balance, but while it’s a complex, layered show, there’s very little balance involved. A little juggling, maybe, by some of the characters who haven’t been through the severance procedure, which splits memories into a work life and a home life, with no meeting of the two minds. But there is no way for two halves who can’t communicate with one another to negotiate anything like balance between them. Instead, this is a show about choices, connection and self awareness, in a controlled environment that tests the characters as if they are lab animals.

This distinction between the work self and home self as two halves of the same whole who don’t and never will know or understand each other is introduced and explored in episode 1 when Adam Scott’s Mark finds that his best work friend Petey has left his job at Lumon Industries. Mark is promoted to Petey’s former position on the spot and told to acclimate his own replacement, Helly R (Britt Lower), who has just undergone the severance procedure. The corporate philosophy that humans are replaceable, programmable plug and play resources is illustrated within the show’s first few minutes. The flaws in this sort of thinking are also exposed.

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