One of the surprise TV hits of the year is Severance.
The Apple TV+ sci-fi thriller series has received rave reviews for its gripping mystery-filled story about people who undergo a procedure to separate their work and personal memories for a shady corporation.
Here’s the trailer:
And here’s the incredible, haunting opening title sequence:
The series, created by Dan Erickson and co-directed by Ben Stiller, stars Adam Scott, Zach Cherry, Britt Lower, John Turturro, Tramell Tillman, Patricia Arquette and Christopher Walken.
If you’re like me and have devoured the show since its finale earlier this month, you might be looking for something to fill the void until the now-confirmed second season. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 10 shows and movies that are similar to Severance, be it through story, themes or general vibes. As you’ll notice, many of these feature sci-fi concepts and/or people rebelling against morally corrupt companies, just like Severance.
Without further ado, here are eight shows (and two movies) to watch after Severance.
When people talk about “cautionary media tales about technology,” Black Mirror is pretty much the go-to modern example. Outside of a few exceptions, the Charlie Brooker-created series has quite the bleak outlook on both current and hypothetical sinister uses of technology. On the whole, it’s darker than Severance, although it does explore different genres through a sci-fi lens, including romance (“San Junipero”), horror (“Playtest”) and black comedy (“National Anthem”). Best of all, each episode is standalone, so you can dip your feet into whichever sounds most appealing.
Runtime: 22 episodes (41 minutes to 1 hour, 29 minutes each)
Genre: Sci-fi anthology
Stream Black Mirror on Netflix. It’s also worth noting that a standalone film, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, is also available on Netflix. Unlike the Black Mirror episodes, though, it’s an interactive “choose-your-own-adventure” experience.
While this list is mostly focused on shows, we’re including a couple of movies based on cited influences by Severance creator Dan Erickson.
Set in a dystopian society, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil follows a bureaucrat who becomes the enemy of the state when he pursues the woman of his dreams. Jonathan Pryce, Kim Griest, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond and Ian Holm star.
Runtime: Eight episodes (43 to 57 minutes each)
Genre: Dystopian, black-comedy
This show is probably the closest 1:1 comparison to Severance, in that it’s a conspiracy-ridden sci-fi thriller that follows a software engineer investigating the death of her boyfriend at a shady tech company.
The miniseries was created by acclaimed Ex Machina filmmaker Alex Garland and stars Sonoya Mizuno, Nick Offerman, Jin Ha, Zach Grenier and Toronto’s own Alison Pill.
Runtime: Eight episodes (43 to 57 minutes each)
Genre: Sci-fi thriller
Stream Devs on Disney+.
Another show, another mysterious company. This anthology series follows an unconventional wellness company and its ‘Homecoming Initiative,’ which helps soldiers re-transition into civilian life.
Based on Gimlet Media’s podcast of the same name, Homecoming was created by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg and features two different stories in each season. The first season features Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, Shea Wigham and Toronto’s own Stephan James, while Season 2 stars Janelle Monáe, Joan Cusack, Chris Cooper and James.
Runtime: Two seasons (17 episodes at 24 to 37 minutes each)
Genre: Psychological thriller
Stream Homecoming here.
Made For Love
Hazel escapes from a toxic marriage with tech billionaire Byron Gogol, only to discover that her husband is tracking her through a chip he implanted in her head.
While that’s an undeniably creepy premise, the show is a dark comedy overall, featuring fun performances from Cristin Milioti (Hazel), Billy Magnussen (Byron) and, especially, Ray Romano as Hazel’s sex doll-loving dad.
Runtime: Eight episodes (first season)
Genre: Sci-fi, dark comedy
Stream Made For Love (Season 1) on Amazon Prime Video. The second season of the show is premiering in the U.S. on HBO Max on April 28th, but Prime Video Canada isn’t getting it until May 20th.
Two strangers, Annie (Emma Stone) and Owen (Jonah Hill), connect while undertaking a mind-bending pharmaceutical trial in a retro-future New York City.
Notably, Patrick Somerville, who was the showrunner of Made For Love, created this miniseries, which was itself based on one from Norway. No Time to Die director Cary Joji Fukunaga also helmed every episode of Maniac.
Runtime: Ten episodes (26 to 47 minutes each)
Genre: Psychological, dark-comedy
Stream Maniac on Netflix.
A mentally ill cybersecurity engineer joins a hacktivist group targeting the largest conglomerate in the world (See a pattern here?).
The Sam Esmail-created series stars Rami Malek, Christian Slater, Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday and Michael Cristofer.
Runtime: Four seasons (45 episodes at 40 to 65 minutes each)
Genre: Drama, thriller
Stream Mr. Robot on Amazon Prime Video.
The Truman Show
Here’s another film that Erickson has said influenced Severance, and it’s easy to see how. The Peter Weir-directed film follows a man (Newmarket, Ontario’s own Jim Carrey) who discovers that his seemingly ordinary life was actually a reality TV show.
Runtime: 1 hour, 43 minutes
Genre: Psychological, comedy-drama
After dying prematurely, a computer engineering grad gets “uploaded” into a virtual afterlife and must adjust to the pros and cons of his new existence.
The Office‘s Greg Daniels created the series, which gives you an idea of the tone (i.e. it’s not dark like Severance). Notably, Upload stars Toronto’s own Robbie Amell and was also filmed in Vancouver.
Runtime: Two seasons (17 episodes at 24 to 46 minutes each)
Genre: Sci-fi, comedy-drama
Stream Upload on Amazon Prime Video.
High-paying guests visit a technologically-advanced Wild West-themed amusement park, which is run by android “hosts.”
Based on Michael Chrichton’s 1973 film of the same name, Westworld was created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy and features an ensemble cast that includes Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Anthony Hopkins, Tessa Thompson and Aaron Paul.
Runtime: Three seasons (28 episodes at 57 to 91 minutes each)
Genre: Sci-fi, dystopian
Stream Westworld on Crave.
Honourable mentions: This is focused on streaming, but we’ll also quickly shout out some video games. Erickson has publicly noted that The Stanley Parable — a first-person narrative PC game about a worker in an office building that’s getting a new release on consoles — influenced Severance. As well, Remedy’s third-person shooter Control — a mind-bending adventure set in an eerie bureau — has some strong visual and thematic ties to Apple’s show.
Are you also obsessed with Severance? Which of these shows and movies do you like or, alternatively, are considering watching for the first time? Let us know in the comments.
Image credit: Apple