11 best shows to watch while you wait for Severance season 2

Adam Scott as Mark Scout in Severance, at his desk
(Image credit: Apple)

Our outie brains are wondering when Severance season 2 is coming, but we know that no matter when it arrives, it's not any time soon. So, we got our innie workforce together to refine all the macrodata about the best shows similar to Severance that you can watch while you wait. 

Much like everyone outside of Lumon HQ, we have all the time on our hands to thumb through the best streaming services to find these hits. And no worries about getting re-severed in the process. 

Our picks range from Adam Scott's best work (which includes a great underrated sitcom about the hilarious and depressing nature of labor) to mysterious shows that have slowly unraveled their truths. 

So, dear reader, come on in. While we don't have waffles, eggs or even Devon's weird sandwich, we have plenty of shows that can keep your outie busy while they wait for Severance season 2:

Black Mirror (Netflix)

While Black Mirror comparisons to Severance don't quite fit as well now that we've had a chance to process Severance season 1, these shows still feel like relatives. Just, you know, slightly more distant now. 

But since Black Mirror is an anthology show, taking on a series of different dystopic visions of tech gone horribly wrong, we're gonna suggest a few episodes that are the most-related to Severance, or just the best episodes overall.

"Fifteen Million Merits" (season 1, episode 2) follows Bing, who seems to work more than he lives, and his work (like everyone around him) is riding an exercise bicycle to earn "merits." Merits are the currency used for everything you could buy in this life, plus they're needed to control the screens that make up all the walls in your bedroom. Want to remove ads? That's gonna take some merits, too. Then, "Be Right Back" (201) is a tale of death, downloadable memories and longing. "USS Callister" (401) may be the most perfect, as programmer Nanette gets stuck inside a virtual world her weirdo boss has invented. — Henry T. Casey

Stream it now on Netflix

Party Down (Hulu)

Any Adam Scott fan worth their salt knows that caterer and failed actor Henry Pollard is arguably the man's best role. Henry is marginally famous for appearing in a beer ad where he shouted "are we having fun yet?" which … was the peak of his acting career. Sad, right? Well, not as sad as working for Ron Donald (Ken Marino) a manic ball of anxiety who just wants to throw the best catered parties as the leader of the Party Down catering team. His real dream, though, is managing a Soup R' Crackers franchise, which dishes out all-you-can-eat soup.

Party Down is also Scott at his finest because of the impeccable cast he got to work with. Lizzy Caplan, as Casey Klein, one of his colleagues who's a failed comedian, is as much of an unruly employee as any macrodata refiner. And her romance with Henry is one of the better sitcom pairings in recent years, as short-lived as it is. 

While the series tells an overall narrative over its two seasons, each episode is kind of its own event, as the team goes from party to party, meeting weirder and weirder people. Other cast members include Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars) as the himbo Kyle Bradway, Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks) as pretentious sci-fi writer Roman DeBeers, Jane Lynch (Glee) as former actress Constance Carmell, and Megan Mullally (Will and Grace) as Lydia Dunfree, who arrives in season 2. — Henry T. Casey

Stream it now on Hulu

Parks and Recreation (Peacock)

This may be too obvious, so I'll keep it short. While Severance presents Adam Scott at his most-warped and broken, Parks and Rec presents a quirkier Scott, arriving at the end of the show's second season.

While things were going OK for Parks and Recreation department deputy director Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), a budget crisis has sent the local government into serious trouble. And so Knope has to go to state auditors Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe) and Ben Wyatt (Scott) for help getting funds for a concert for local families. Eventually, though, Wyatt and Traeger actually become a part of the community, and Knope and Wyatt wind up becoming a very cute couple. — Henry T. Casey

Stream it now on Peacock

 Better Off Ted (Hulu)

Better Off Ted walked so that Severance could run. The short-lived, cult-fave ABC comedy is set at the soulless corporation Veridian Dynamics, which acts in many egregious ways. Most notably, it experiments on the employees. Sounds familiar, right? The similarities don’t end there. Ted Crisp (Jay Harrington) is a good-natured middle manager who heads the research and development department. He struggles with the ethical implications of his job, but does what he can to placate his cold and calculating boss Veronica (Portia de Rossi).

“Work is hell” wasn’t exactly a new concept when Better Off Ted aired in 2009 and 2010. Still, its satirical perspective is delightfully dark (the episode “Beating a Dead Workforce” literally kills off an employee) and the show is filled with clever touches, like Ted breaking the fourth wall to talk to the viewers. Severance is more of a puzzlebox, while Better Off Ted is an out-and-out comedy Both masterfully skewer the slavish corporate culture of late-stage capitalism. — Kelly Woo

Stream it now on Hulu

Devs (Hulu)

Much like how Mark S.'s decision to get severance and work at Lumon was tied to the apparent tragic death of his wife Gemma, the techno-thriller Devs wraps itself around a mysterious death at the tech company Amaya. And, similarly enough, this passing is tied to a mysterious quantum computing team. We'd explain more, but the shock, surprise and horror of it all shouldn't be ruined.

And it's apparently all up to Lily (Sonoya Mizuno) to figure out what the heck is happening at Amaya, where she works as a software engineer. Directed, written and executive produced by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation), Devs won praise for its inventive narrative, and its twisting and turning nature. Also, it's a single-season miniseries, so you don't have to worry about some network killing it off before it finished telling its own story. — Henry T. Casey

Stream it now on Hulu

 Westworld (HBO Max)

The characters of Westworld are constrained into certain roles and hampered by memory loss, as if they’ve been severed. They haven’t been severed, though; they are biomechanical robot hosts programmed by the corporation Delos, Inc. to entertain theme park guests. Then again, are we even sure exactly what the “severance” procedure does? Ms. Casey’s exile into storage sounds a lot like what happens to defunct Westworld androids.

As dark as Severance can get, Westworld presents an even grimmer view of capitalism and corporate abuse of the workforce. Dolores (Evan Rachel Woods) and Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) are robots who become much more. They want to break free from their box and have their existence acknowledged, just like Mark and the rest of the MDR team. These cogs are no longer content to power the machine; they want to rage against it. — Kelly Woo

Stream it now on HBO Max

Made for Love (HBO Max)

Severance's "nothing is as it seems" vibe is also found in Made for Love, an HBO Max series that got rave reviews in its first season. While the "severance" process breaks your work/life balance completely apart, Made for Love operates with different dystopic tech: Hazel (Cristin Milioti) discovers that her tech bro husband (played by Billy Magnussen) put a chip inside her brain. And not only can this chip let her husband track her location, but he can also see what she sees as he monitors her emotions in real time.

One of HBO Max's early success stories, Made for Love is darkly funny, and it also gave Ray Romano something of a second act. As Hazel's lonely dad Herbert, Romano gets to do stuff that we'd likely never have seen back on Everybody Loves Raymond. That said, Made for Love thrives when Milioti's delivering snappy dialogue and Magnussen is getting extremely weird as clueless tech exec Byron Gogol. — Henry T. Casey

Stream it now on HBO Max

Homecoming (Prime Video)

You know how Severance almost doesn't make sense? How Apple TV Plus suddenly had the buzziest new drama of the year? And how Ben Stiller didn't quite fit the show's thriller vibe? You may have some similar "huh?" thoughts when you learn about Homecoming, which adapts a fictional podcast of the same name. No, the podcast isn't fictitious (it actually happened), it's just the rare pod that isn't based on non-fiction events. Oh, and this TV show stars Julia Roberts in its first season, before bringing on Janelle Monáe for season 2).

Roberts stars as Heidi Bergman, a caseworker at a secret government facility called the Homecoming Transitional Support Center. There, she's supposedly helping soldiers as they reintegrate into society as civilians. Bigger similarities to Severance arrive when Heidi starts a new life after that job without any memories of what she did there. 

The mystery of what the Homecoming center does is unpacked over a span of two seasons Homecoming's supporting cast includes other fantastic performers, such as Bobby Cannavale as Heidi's supervisor Colin and Sissy Spacek as Heidi's mother. — Henry T. Casey

Stream it now on Prime Video

Upload (Prime Video)

The humor and glossy aesthetics of Upload mask darker issues roiling beneath the surface, much like Severance. 

In the year 2033, humans can upload their consciousness into a virtual afterlife. Death does not have to cramp anybody’s style. When computer programmer Nathan (Robbie Amell) dies, he finds himself in the fancy digital resort of Lakeview, paid for by his still-living girlfriend Ingrid (Allegra Edwards). When he has a difficult time adjusting, Nathan bonds with a living  customer service rep named Nora (Andy Allo). 

So, Nathan is essentially an “innie” in a love triangle with two “outies.” Not only that, the circumstances of his death are suspicious, but playing detective is difficult because, well, he doesn’t exist in the outside world. Nora helps, but doing so puts her in danger from shadowy figures. Meanwhile, an upcoming software upgrade threatens to wipe Nathan’s memories, including his investigation and feelings for Nora. If only Lakeview had an emergency overtime protocol …. — Kelly Woo

Stream it now on Prime Video

Mr. Robot (Prime Video)

The modern techno-thriller TV genre got its big reboot when we met Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek). A seemingly perfect target for manipulation by a higher power in the hacker world, Elliott is brought into work for a Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) to take down the E Corp conglomerate by messing with its data. Malek rattled off his genius-level hacker ideas so smoothly that the show was able to fight off any negative comparisons to Fight Club.

But much like how Mark S. has difficulty knowing what happened (and when it happened) due to the severance process, Elliot's mental issues make him a completely unreliable narrator. Mr. Robot lasted four seasons, and vaulted Malek into major roles, while creator Sam Esmail became one of the next big names of his generation of TV creators. — Henry T. Casey

Stream it now on Prime Video

Counterpart (Prime Video)

Faster than you can say "but what do you do here?" Counterpart's J.K. Simmons establishes that his character Howard Silk is irate over having no idea what he's done for the last three decades. Silk's lack of awareness for his job is somewhat by design — he works at a spy agency and doesn't have high enough clearance for all the details — but his frustration about the opacity of his work makes for instantly compelling TV. 

He's only upset about all of this, though, because his I.D. card no longer works and he's concerned about who he's been helping. Except it turns out that Howard's company actually hid a parallel dimension, and another Howard — from the other side — is coming over. And there's clearly a reason why nobody ever meets their own counterpart. — Henry T. Casey

Stream it now on Prime Video

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing 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.

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