severance pay, the eerie Apple TV Plus drama about employees who find work-life balance by surgically altering their brains, has been renewed for a second season, the streamer announced on Wednesday. The show starring Adam Scott as Mark S., a grieving widower who spends his workday forgetting who he is, has found an audience with his portrayal of the horrors of capitalism in a large but claustrophobic office.
Mark and his colleagues Helly R. (Britt Lower), Irving (John Turturro), Dylan (Zach Cherry), and Burt (a spectacularly understated Christopher Walken) try to figure out exactly what they are Real in the macro data refinement department at Lumon Industries while avoiding trips to the dreaded Break Room. They are constantly watched by the deeply disturbing Harmony Cobel (Patricia Arquette), the mysterious Mrs. Casey (Dichen Lachman), and steel-eyed Seth Milchick (Tramell Tillman). Mark’s real family includes his pregnant sister Devon (Jen Tullock) and the always reliably funny Michael Chernus as Ricken, Devon’s husband (who writes a self-help book called The you that you are and holds dinners without real dinner).
Created by Dan Erickson and featuring episodes directed by Ben Stiller and Aoife McArdle, the show’s first season finale arrives this Friday.
severance pay cleverly explores what it means to have a work persona detached from your “real” identity, where one can never leave the office and the other remembers nothing of what he did at work. It’s set in an antiseptically clean labyrinthine building with decor and computers reminiscent of the 70’s and 80’s (but we don’t really have a clue when we are).
Good performance at Lumon can get employees a handshake, a melon party, a dance experience with music (with music options like “rebellious jazz”) or maybe even a waffle party, all of which are just as weird and wonderful as they sound. The workers begin to unravel the mystery behind the cult-like Egan family, the founders of Lumon, and learn that not all is as it seems. (Also the opening credits montage is an absolutely spectacular CGI animated film in its own right that sets the tone for the show; don’t skip!)
The season two teaser keeps it simple, with the words “You’ll feel like you never left” displayed on a vintage computer screen. Yes, I just winced.