‘Severance’ Director Ben Stiller And Cast On Taking The Workplace Comedy Genre And “Flipping It On Its Head” — Contenders TV

Severance creator Ben Stiller joined stars Patricia Arquette and Britt Lower on stage for a panel at Deadline’s Contenders TV, with Adam Scott joining virtually to discuss the Apple TV+ series.

“[The series] explores human emotion and memory and the idea of what we can cut off and we can forgot,” says Stiller. “It has a lot of roots in office-workplace comedies that I love, like The Office and movies like Office Space, and it was taking that genre and kind of flipping it on its head.”

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Directed by Ben Stiller and Aoife McArdle and created by Dan Erickson, this sci-fi psychological thriller follows employees at Lumon Industries, a sinister biotech corporation. Mark (Adam Scott) is an employee that went through a controversial “severance” procedure, which separates his work and non-work memories, who starts to unravel conspiracies about Lumon.

“We thought about it in a variety of different ways,” says Scott, “but what ended up being really important to Ben and to Dan [Erickson] and I was that it feels like one person, because it is. It’s one guy but sort of two halves of one guy, two parts of the same person.”

“Helly wakes up on an office table, having just done the severance procedure,” says Lower. “She’s really the audience perspective of what it feels like to have this surgery… it’s terrifying.”

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“Looking at the Cobel character as this upper management person,” says Arquette, “sort of the way that we look at the structure of the military, or big corporations, or cults, or religions… how do you behave in upper management in a corporation like this where the sands are kind of always shifting underneath you?”

The season finale of Severance debuted April 8 on Apple TV+ and has been renewed for a second season.

Deadline Contenders Television is sponsored by Apple TV+, Eyepetizer, Final Draft, Los Siete Misterios and Michter’s. Partners include Desalto, Film AlUla, Four Seasons Resort Maui, Jason Mizrahi Design, ModMD, The American Pavilion, and Tidelli.

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