Ever since the dawn of the golden age of television, which many agree began when The Sopranos first aired in 1999, HBO has been considered the gold standard to match it, producing one all-time great after another in the years since, such as The Wire, Deadwood, Veep, and Game of Thrones. Frankly, it’s incredible that twenty-five years on HBO is still making gems that set the world ablaze, like Succession, The Last of Us, and Barry. However, HBO has also proven its inevitable fallibility in more recent years, producing duds such as Avenue 5, The Time Traveller’s Wife, and [gulp] The Idol.
Regardless, it has always been inevitable – especially with the arrival of streaming services – that a company would be recognized as “the new HBO”, and on more than one occasion in the past few weeks, I have seen the moniker crowned upon a relatively new player in the game, Apple TV+, which launched a little over four years ago. It even has an Oscar for Best Picture under its belt, with CODA having won an award in 2022.
Historically speaking, HBO is the easy winner upon comparison, with a library of content that’s second to none. A forty-seven-year head start will do that. However, it now seems that Apple is the company producing the most unique, progressive content in the medium, which had pretty much been HBO’s “thing” since it became a titan of the industry. Ted Lasso, For All Mankind, Servant, Pachinko, and Slow Horses all emphasize as much.
But none more so than Severance.
Having first aired in 2022, Severance’s first (and currently only) season is a masterclass in creativity and drama. Seamlessly blending elements of surrealism, science fiction, and psychological tension, Severance primarily centres on Mark Scout (Adam Scott), who works for a corporation called Lumen Industries, which recently introduced a controversial program called – you guessed it – “severance”, wherein an employee undergoes a procedure that separates the consciousnesses of their everyday self and their work self (which they call “innies” and “outies” in the show). Thus, when at work Mark and his colleagues know only a life in Lumen’s labyrinthine basement office space and are essentially different people, while their original selves know nothing of what goes on beyond the elevator down there. It’s a brilliant, intriguing concept that is as cerebral and thought-provoking in execution as it is difficult to describe, believe me.
The show is a hit with critics and audiences alike, many of whom, this writer included, are clamouring for the long-awaited second season to answer the litany of burning questions we were left with. Shot primarily in New York, the filmmakers behind the show, which includes Ben Stiller who serves as its primary director, decided to shoot a portion of the second season in a former fish plant (which is so Severance, if you have seen the show’s outstanding set design and cinematography) in the quaint town of Trinity Bay North, Newfoundland.
Bear in mind, this was reported as early as May 2023, so I was ashamed not to have heard about one of my latest favourite shows being shot on Canada’s east coast until last week, especially considering that I pride myself on keeping a finger on the pulse of the Canadian film industry as a whole.
Nonetheless, much like countless other productions, Severance’s second season has been delayed due to the industry-wide strikes last year, and while a release date has yet to be announced, it’s most likely that it will not premiere until 2025 given the scale and complexity of the show. The wait will be long enough that I’m sure some fans, if they could, would opt to for severance if it meant they could skip ahead to its release date.
Obviously, patience is our only recourse, but I have little doubt it will be well worth the wait.