Apple TV+ has ventured into the realm of science fiction and struck gold with the captivating series Severance, directed by Ben Stiller. This thrilling show revolves around Adam Scott’s character, Mark, an employee at Lumon, a company that mandates a brain surgery procedure to separate work memories from personal ones. With its Kubrickian direction that accentuates the sterile and chilling corporate environment, Severance unfolds as a spine-tingling horror story, all within a world where corporations wield even more influence than we see in our own.
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For those who’ve been enthralled by Severance and are eager for more gripping narratives in a similar vein, we’ve curated a list of shows that might just satisfy your craving for the unique and mysterious allure of this series.
Black Mirror (Netflix)
Let’s start with the most obvious choice. If you haven’t delved into Charlie Brooker’s Netflix anthology series yet, now might be the perfect time to do so. Black Mirror, known for its thought-provoking narratives, delves into various aspects of technology and its impact on society. Each season and episode offers a unique take on the darker side of technology, exploring themes like data privacy, social media, surveillance, virtual reality, and consumerism. Episodes such as “Nosedive” and “White Christmas” delve deep into the economic and psychological consequences of our tech-dependent world, making them especially appealing for those who’ve enjoyed the eerie vibe of Severance.
Made For Love (HBO Max)
While HBO Max’s Made For Love may not have achieved runaway success, it undeniably showcased the incredible talent of its star, Christin Milioti. This dark comedy revolves around Hazel, a woman who escapes her marriage to a tech mogul after a decade, only to make the chilling discovery that he implanted a tracking device in her brain. The series boasts a talented cast including Ray Romano and Billy Magnussen and is based on Alissa Nutting’s novel of the same name. Made For Love’s narrative, with its portrayal of a powerful corporate figure and brain implant surgery, might just be the edgier counterpart to Severance. And with the upcoming release of its second season, now is the perfect moment to hop on this wild sci-fi journey where love takes a disastrous turn.
Westworld (HBO Max)
HBO’s Westworld, the dystopian sci-fi series crafted by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, burst onto the scene in 2016, captivating audiences with its unique blend of Western aesthetics and futuristic themes. This thought-provoking show delves into profound subjects like individual agency, the influence of capitalism, the nature of hyperreality, and the dehumanizing consequences of technological advancement. At its core, Westworld is powered by remarkable performances from stars like Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffery Wright, Anthony Hopkins, Ben Barnes, and Thandiwe Newton.
The first season of this series immerses viewers in the mesmerizing world of Westworld, a flagship park in a dystopian future where the wealthy elite indulge their darkest desires within various immersive settings, all facilitated by incredibly lifelike humanoid ‘hosts.
While it might have slipped under your radar during its initial release in March 2020, Devs is an absolute gem for sci-fi enthusiasts. Created by the talented Alex Garland, this FX miniseries stars Sonoya Mizuno as Lily Chan, a skilled software engineer employed at the tech giant Amaya. Her life takes a dark and intriguing twist when her boyfriend mysteriously dies shortly after being promoted within the same company.
With just eight episodes, Devs offers an easily digestible binge-watching experience, making it a must-see for those seeking shows that explore themes akin to those found in Severance—themes of identity, the nature of work, and the complex concept of free will.
Counterpart, a Starz series that spanned only two seasons, offers a thrilling ride with a total of 20 episodes that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Led by the talented J.K. Simmons, this series follows the life of Howard Silk, a seemingly ordinary UN employee tasked with delivering messages. Little does he know, he’s actually communicating with people in a parallel Earth, where his role holds far greater significance than that of a mere messenger. As the Cold War intensifies on both sides of these parallel worlds, the lines between them begin to blur, creating a mind-bending and captivating thriller.
Homecoming (Amazon Prime)
Amazon’s Homecoming offers yet another intriguing tale of employees entangled in the enigmatic web of their organization, struggling to recollect their true identities and allegiances. The first season resonates with a sense of authenticity and parallels to Severance, featuring a similar premise. Julia Roberts takes the lead as Heidi, a waitress perplexed by her inexplicable transformation from a former social worker at The Geist Group. Homecoming also shares a common thread with Severance, as it boasts the directorial prowess of Sam Esmail, known for Mr. Robot, infusing the series with a distinct Hitchcockian essence that delves into themes of deception and memory.
Starring Emma Stone, Sally Field, Justin Theroux, and Jonah Hill, the series is set in a futuristic version of New York where two strangers in a pharmaceutical trial embark on psychedelic journeys across time, space, and genres. The show delves into the expansive realm of pharmatec’s influence while addressing sensitive topics like depression and mortality. With just 10 30-minute episodes, Maniac is the perfect trippy series for a cozy day indoors.
Upload (Amazon Prime)
Among the shows on this list, this high-concept Amazon comedy is easily the most lighthearted. Created by Greg Daniels, known for his work on The Office, the series is set in 2033, a future where humans have developed technology allowing them to transfer their consciousness into a virtual reality upon their death. This fate befalls our central character, Nathan, played by Robbie Amell, who learns that he has been uploaded into this digital afterlife at the request of his still-living girlfriend, Ingrid, portrayed by Allegra Edwards. As Nathan navigates life in the Lake View community, he stumbles upon a conspiracy surrounding his own demise.
Dispatches From Elsewhere (AMC+)
Lastly, we have AMC’s miniseries Dispatches From Elsewhere, which, in another timeline, could have been a multi-season success. Unfortunately, it struggled with low ratings and failed to gather a dedicated following. This unique show, both created by and starring Jason Segel, revolves around the real-life alternate reality game known as “The Jejune Institute.” It follows a group of strangers who stumble upon this game, which profoundly alters their perception of reality. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Charlie Kaufman, Dispatches From Elsewhere is undeniably one of the most wonderfully peculiar series of the decade. The ensemble cast includes Sally Field, Andre Benjamin, Eve Lindley, and Richard E. Grant.