Severance deserves to be celebrated. Apple TV+'s darkly funny sci-fi psychological workplace thriller (this is a show that also deserves many descriptors) is by far one of the best shows of 2022, set at a fictional company called Lumon, which uses a procedure to divide employees' minds between their work lives and their personal lives. The stunning last scene of its Season 1 finale set things up beautifully for its upcoming second season, but it's making the wait for new episodes feel excruciating.
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.
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 all of the episodes together is the speculative and exaggerated way it explores themes from our culture and the relationships humans have to those themes, drawing a lot of inspiration from the internet. Some of these stories work better than others, but many are in conversation with Severance: In one early episode, an audiovisual technology implanted in people's brains records their memories, 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) using 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" (not in the Kim Kardashian way, in the "people are being psychologically tortured" way) 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.
Helly (Britt Lower) spends Severance's first season in a Fight Club-esque war with herself, her innie imprisoned at Lumon by her disaffected outie. She would probably have a lot to talk about with Made for Love's Hazel (Cristin Milioti), a woman who escapes the virtual reality compound where her tech mogul husband (Billy Magnussen) kept her trapped for a decade. It's not quite the win it should be, since her husband also implanted a tracking device in her brain, and he follows her every move as she flees to her childhood home to reunite with her alcoholic father (Ray Romano). It's a shame that this show was canceled after just two seasons, but it manages to end satisfyingly anyway.
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.