With production on Season 2 on hold due to the writers' strike, it's going to be a bit before we get more Severance. The first season of the Apple TV+ series introduced us to a fictional company called Lumon, which uses a procedure to divide employees' consciousness between their work lives and their personal lives, and it's so good that it might just ruin all other TV for you. But if you're looking for something to hold you over while you wait for more, we have some suggestions.
Our list of recommendations for what to watch until we collectively step back inside the Lumon elevator features more sci-fi mysteries, shows about hating your job, and shady corporations that take advantage of their employees.
Counterpart is a spy drama, yes, but it's a spy drama with a sci-fi twist, which earns it a spot on this list. J.K. Simmons stars as Howard Silk, another low-level cog in the corporate machine at his desk job who is beginning to wind down his career when he discovers that the organization he works for is actually harboring a secret gateway to a parallel universe engaged in a cold war with his own. In that world also exists Howard's counterpart, a ruthless intelligence agent also played by Simmons. The series only ran for two seasons, but it stays consistently, thrillingly suspenseful throughout.
Here's an obvious one! Charlie Brooker's anthology about the horrors of technology is a great companion piece to Severance. While the nature of an anthology means that every episode is different, what brings them all together is the speculative and exaggerated way it explores themes from our culture and the relationships we have to those themes, drawing a lot of inspiration from the internet. Some work better than others, but many are in conversation with Severance: One early episode centers around an audiovisual technology implanted in people's brains that records their memories and allows them to rewatch the events of their lives. In another, a woman (Hayley Atwell) brings back an artificially intelligent version of her dead boyfriend (Domhnall Gleeson) with the help of a service that re-constructs personalities of the deceased by combing through their online presences. This show is a great place to start if you're looking for more eerie, dystopian cautionary tales.
If Severance is the show that best speaks to our current "work sucks" moment, Corporate paved the way for its existence. Few shows get it the way Jake Weisman, Matt Ingebretson, and Pat Bishop's nihilistic satire does, following the day-to-day miseries of two despondent employees (played by Weisman and Ingebretson) at a multinational corporation called Hampton DeVille. Watching the way things escalate gives the show a surreally funny edge: one minute the guys are being scolded for not following email protocol, the next they're considering ratting out the higher-ups for their involvement in a literal war crime — but just so they can take the spots of the fired executives. It's dark and hilarious and, much like Severance, will serve as a reminder you that there's nothing more soul-sucking than when a boss describes an office as a family.
Distinctive director Alex Garland's first TV series is a cerebral, beautifully shot sci-fi drama about Lily (Sonoya Mizuno), a software engineer whose boyfriend dies under shady circumstances while working on a secret project at the huge Silicon Valley tech company that employs them. She sets out to uncover the truth and, as these things go, uncovers a bigger conspiracy along the way — one that involves the company's mysterious CEO (Nick Offerman). It has plenty of overlap with Severance in terms of the philosophic questions it raises about technology, and you'll see shades of Mark's (Adam Scott) grief for his wife in Lily as she goes deeper into her investigation.
If you want another show about normal people volunteering themselves for enigmatic procedures that mess with their brain chemistry, Maniac is your ideal next watch. Emma Stone and Jonah Hill star as two downtrodden strangers who sign up for a pharmaceutical treatment that promises to heal their minds and solve their problems (she's traumatized by her broken relationships with her sister and mother; he's struggling with his schizophrenia diagnosis) over the course of a three-day drug trial. It's dramatic and darkly comic and often extremely WTF-worthy, but it's hard to say much else about Maniac without ruining some of its best surprises. Just know that it's a surreal, emotional, and often hopeful limited series that will keep you mesmerized until the very last shot.
Severance centers on a company with a sickening amount of control over the people who work there, but Homecoming takes it a step further by being about government misdeeds and cover-ups, and the people who end up as casualties along the way. Season 1 stars Julia Roberts as a former social worker who begins questioning her memories of time working at an enigmatic facility that purports to help veterans transition back to civilian life. Season 2 introduces Janelle Monáe as a woman with ties to the same facility but no memory of her identity. Like Severance, Homecoming boasts an incredible cast with a twisty, engaging, and utterly haunting mystery at its center, and a unique, stylized visual identity in its camera techniques and production design.