How Apple Tv+’s “Severance” Touches on the Realities of Corporate Life. (Potential Spoilers)

Severance is a show on Apple Tv+ about a man named Mark, who signs onto a job with Lumon Industries after experiencing a traumatic event that prohibits him from continuing his career as a professor. Lumon Industries produces the microchips needed for a procedure called “Severance”. The job requires him to go through this controversial procedure that wipes all of his memory while he is at work in order to protect “sensitive information” his employers do not want to be revealed to the public. Everything becomes more complicated when one of his old coworkers (that he cannot remember) warns him of what is truly happening at his job.

Before I begin, I would just like to state that I am aware that not everyone sees corporate life as toxic, dysfunctional, or unhealthy and that there are healthy workplaces out there along with employers trying to lead the way in showing the rest of America how to build better relationships between employees and employers.

Kier Eagan’s Core Values

Over time, the audience is shown certain themes and elements that resemble a cult or cult-like attributes in the workplace. Kier Eagan is revealed as the original founder of “Severance” and the founder of Lumon Industries. He is a source of mystery for the people outside of Lumon Industries because he has been long dead, but for the people working there, he might as well be a deity. He outlines specific core values for workers to follow that help keep them in line and list expectations. This is very similar to the core values that are listed during orientation when signing onto a new job. The issue, similar to real life, is that these core values are often weaponized against employees.

There are also gifts called “perks” in the show that are used to incentivize employees to work harder and achieve higher goals in order to increase the employer’s profits but these are usually useless material items such as finger traps or dance parties with unsettling monochromatic light shows and underwhelming snacks. This can be compared to table tennis rewards in silicon valley or happy hour gift cards.

Work-Life Balance?

The thing severance gets perfectly is the disregard or purposeful blindness that is shown from employer to employee when it comes to our personal lives. Severance is a process that splits “you” into two separate forms of consciousness, the “you” at work, and the “you” at home. You are essentially on a vacation at home forever besides the need to get up and drive to work each day. You are free from the stresses of having work follow you home, whether it is a deadline you may miss, a coworker you don’t like, or a new boss changing the status quo at work in the pursuit of their own glory.

What about the “you” at work though? That version is essentially a slave that works forever until the other version of “you” decides they want to leave. In America that is only a minor exaggeration of reality where 9-5 jobs only give you so much time at home before you have to go to work again. The questions this show asks are what would happen if you gave 100% of yourself over to the company you work for as long as you got to make a living and how much would that version of you need to fabricate their true personality to fit the rigid nature of workplace values. I encourage everyone to watch the show and find out.

1 thought on “How Apple Tv+’s “Severance” Touches on the Realities of Corporate Life. (Potential Spoilers)

  1. I was more than just a little intrigued when I saw the previews for this one, Adam Scott is low-key one of my favorite actors since he blends humor and drama seamlessly. Who hasn’t thought about doing the very thing the plot pivots around in the show? Leaving the stress of work and going home to enjoy your life, almost seems too good to be true.

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