The best new show isn't on Netflix — it's on Apple TV Plus

Apple TV Plus
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Update: Here's what we know about Severance season 2 so far.

Having canceled my Netflix account, I've gotten the chance to spend a lot of time outside of the big red streaming machine. Yes, this past week didn't see Netflix rope me back in, as I didn't feel any pangs about missing any of the big Netflix Originals, such as the hyped Inventing Anna — which has actually failed to drum up any FOMO for me. 

The same can also be said the Netflix's other recent big releases. The Cuphead Show!, Space Force Season 2 and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) all failed to actually get that buzzy drive on social media. And without the pressure of being left out of the conversation, I spent another week off Netflix.

I've managed to carve out time for one of the lesser-watched streaming services I already pay for: Apple TV Plus (which I get with my Apple One bundle). This past week was also perfect timing for me to be poking around in Apple TV Plus, as Friday saw the debut of the new (slightly) sci-fi drama Severance, a show that might be the only thing I talk about for the next month. 

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Since it's available on Apple TV Plus, you can try Severance for free with Apple's 7-day free trial (opens in new tab). So, allow me to explain why you've gotta check Severance out. Don't just take my word for it either, Severance has a 97% score (opens in new tab) on Rotten Tomatoes right now, complete with the "Certified Fresh" sticker. It also has a 95% audience score. 

Severance is more than just Black Mirror

Britt Lower as Helly in Severance

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

At first, Severance drew a lot of comparisons (from myself included) to Black Mirror. This makes sense, as Severance is built around a hypothetical technology that allows people to disconnect the work and life sides of their memory. 

By presenting the idea of Severance across a whole season, and not just an episode like Black Mirror, its characters and vibe get more time to develop.

After your severance, you never think about your personal life when you're at work, something for all of the bosses who agonize over something called time theft (some think it's sickening that we're paid to have jobs where every second isn't devoted to work), and you never think about your work life when you're at home. 

And so it's not hard to imagine an episode of Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror show based around "severance," as this technology is very much a relatable thing that belongs in a dystopic version of our own world. The Lumon offices where Severance takes place look awfully minimalist, in a way that very much reminds me of the Black Mirror style guide. 

But at the same time, as evidenced by the computers at Lumon, it's all very retro.

But by presenting the idea of Severance across a whole season of a show, and not just an episode in an anthology, its characters and vibe get more time to develop. And this enables Severance to be an amazing series. Right now, after having watched the first two episodes of Severanc, . I'm at a point with Severance where I think it could topple Yellowjackets and Peacemaker as my personal favorite show of 2022. 

So far, that's owed heavily to the premise that's been brought to life by director and executive producer Ben Stiller and creator Dan Erickson. They've created this living, breathing, arguing and frustrated world where the act of severance is a hotly debated act. And that all adds up to a world of conflict for Adam Scott's character Mark Scout, who is rising up the ranks at Lumon.

Beyond this point lie spoilers for Severance on Apple TV Plus:

Why Severance is a must-watch

As lovely as a hypothetical work-free personal life sounds — imagine exiting the office instantly after entering it — the sweet parts of life are especially sweet because of the contrast with the bitter.

I should have known that Adam Scott (Party Down, Parks and Recreation) was going to deliver the goods in this starring role. What I didn't realize is that this performance would be far from Scott's normal work.

Scott's character Mark Stout is still getting over a very bad breakup, and he's been accused of only agreeing to severance because of that breakup. As if he's so broken by this relationship ending that he wants to hide from his personal life for 8 hours a day. Not that his working experience is that great anyways, as evidenced by how poorly he handles a work friend leaving Lumon — which pushes him to throw out all the framed photos of Stout and his coworkers together, from all of their desks.

Adam Scott as Mark Scout in Severance, at his desk

(Image credit: Apple)

Throughout the show, though, no matter where we see Stout, it doesn't seem like he has a work-life balance. Instead, he has a situation where he appears to be constantly muted. I'm not a therapist, but I'd go so far as to say that he's depressed. And we learn the unintended consequence of severance: if your work and non-work memories are cut off, those sides of yourself are essentially two persons. 

And so the "outie" (you outside the office) and the "innie" (you at the office) just live those lives, on loops. Thinking about that for more than a second, you realize that you've almost created a clone of yourself who is doomed to live only at work. 

Adam Scott absolutely nails the performance of how depressing this all can be, including how sad his "outie" is. Because as lovely as a hypothetical work-free life sounds — imagine exiting the office instantly after entering it — the sweet parts of life are especially sweet because of the contrast with the bitter.

And Severance hasn't even revealed its mysteries

On top of that, there's some secret mystery going on at Lumon. This company is even more creepy than what we know, as evidenced by Mark's friend Petey, who left and is trying to get his former officemate to understand what's going wrong. And that is only what I've seen after watching the first two episodes.

Patricia Arquette and Tramell Tillman in the show Serverance

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

And, so, I am sitting here wondering when my "outie" will get to watch Severance episode 3 already. What mysteries, exactly, are hidden inside of Lumon? The tension of Severance's world is so interesting and unique, and I think it stands above most of the best shows on Netflix, too. That said, if you want something funny, Abbott Elementary is the best new sitcom (and it's on Hulu).

Severance (the series) feels unsafe in the best way. Its conflict and misery hit harder than any Netflix Original I've seen recently, and so it feels like a perfect example of why you shouldn't just think about "what's new on Netflix" but wonder "what else is out there?" Sticking with just Netflix is almost tantamount to an "innie" life. You don't know what you'll cut yourself off from.

In other Netflix news, Netflix's Marvel shows will first land on Disney Plus in Canada. The next big streaming release is coming soon, but Netflix will have to wait for it. You don't have to wait, though, to watch Peaky Blinders season 6 online. Oh, and in "most ambitious crossover ever" news, Tom Holland's coyly teased a Euphoria cameo.

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.

  • Zivia
    Marc isn't suffering from a bad breakup. His wife died!!! How could you get that so wrong?
    Reply
  • Bart B123
    Zivia said:
    Marc isn't suffering from a bad breakup. His wife died!!! How could you get that so wrong?

    Was just about to say... That's a pretty big miss, right?!
    (Think maybe he's confusing this relationship with the one in Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind, which the "Severance" protocol totally reminds me of, in the ability to wipe the mental hard drive, at least in part, sort of way.)
    Reply