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Movies and shows like Severance on Apple TV Plus
Apple TV Plus‘ Severance has been a big hit for the streamer. The trippy, satirical sci-fi series has been met with near-universal acclaim, including from author Stephen King, who called it “the loopiest, coolest, most involving limited series of the spring.” So, if you’re also a fan, you may be looking for some movies or shows like Severance to watch next?
In Severance, the employees of a biotech company take part in a “severance” procedure. It entails separating their work memories from their home or leisure memories. The procedure is meant to improve both — well, in theory. In reality, one employee begins to dig into the invasive procedure and its outcomes, uncovering a massive conspiracy in the process.
Read on for a list of movies and shows like Severance, whether in their treatment of memory, technology, workplace ethics, or just plain bizarre conspiracies, mysteries, and interpersonal relations. And if you haven’t watched Severance yet, you can hit the link below to check it out.
The best movies and shows like Severance
Shows like Severance
Black Mirror is probably the first title to come to mind when looking for shows like Severance. The anthology series offers stand-alone dramas centered on anxieties around technology and our overreliance on tools that could also harm us. A reworking of The Twilight Zone for the 21st century, Black Mirror offers scenarios like the central conceit of Severance. whereby a new procedure is used for nefarious purposes in a workplace.
From Ex Machina and Annihilation director Alex Garland, Devs is the story of a software engineer who goes to work for a tech company in Silicon Valley. She hopes to learn more about her boyfriend’s death, doubting the official ruling that he died by suicide. She thinks his employer had something to do with it and soon finds herself deep in a conspiracy involving a mysterious CEO. A show like Severance, Devs explores the darker sides of large corporations and their treatment of employees.
Homecoming features memory loss as a tool for coercion in a disturbing and compelling way. Based on the hit podcast from Gimlet Media, the Amazon original series follows a social worker who previously worked with veterans and helped them reintegrate into society after combat. Now, she can’t remember any of her work and realizes she may have been roped into a shocking conspiracy.
An existential sci-fi comedy from the creator of The Office, Upload follows a man whose consciousness is uploaded into a perfect afterlife after his death. The problem is that even in death, he still has to deal with the living.
One of the best shows like Severance, and an underrated one at that, Maniac is a Netflix original worth seeking out. The miniseries follows two strangers who connect while participating in an experiment by a pharmaceutical company that promises to increase their happiness. Things don’t go as planned, and the two work together to figure out how to make it out with their sanity intact.
While Severance is a generic hybrid, tapping into science-fiction, horror, drama, mystery, and existential fantasy, Dollhouse is a more straightforward piece of action sci-fi. The two share a lot of similar scenes though — as well as both featuring actress Dichen Lachman. In Dollhouse, a group of people (or “dolls”) have had their personalities and memories erased. They’re hired out by wealthy clients and given new memories appropriate to their various engagements. As one doll gradually becomes self-aware, the show grapples with questions of identity and consent much like Severance.
Much like the employees in Severance, the workers in Westworld have fractured memories. That’s because they’re robots, working in a theme park to give guests the perfect Old West experience of their dreams. When an engagement is over, their memories can be reset, ready for the next guest. With that comes some ethical questions, though. As the robots gain self-awareness, carrying over memories, their rights factor in and an ongoing struggle between robots and humans comes to a head.
Movies like Severance
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is perhaps the best contender among movies like Severance. After a hard breakup with her boyfriend Joel, Clementine undergoes a procedure to have all memories of their union erased. When Joel finds out, he does the same, but as the process begins, he tries to hold onto a few key memories. Those threaten the outcome of the procedure, as he starts to want Clementine back in this surreal romantic drama that’s certainly worth a look after Severance.
Total Recall (1990)
One of the best-known movies about altering memories, Total Recall is a sci-fi classic from controversial director Paul Verhoeven. What if instead of going on expensive vacations, you could pay a smaller fee to have pleasant memories implanted in your brain? When bored construction worker Douglas Quaid goes in to simulate a trip to Mars, the procedure goes wrong and he realizes his whole life is a lie made up of false memories. Now on the run from the people who faked his life, he has to figure out why they’re after him.
Palm Springs (2020)
Palm Springs doesn’t remove its protagonists’ memories. Instead, it makes them relive the same day over and over again, alone in their ability to remember what already happened. Taking its cues from 1993’s Groundhog Day, it follows two Palm Springs wedding guests reliving the nuptials. Slowly, they develop a romance as they try to find a way to end the time loop.
Spike Jonze’s Her is a movie like Severance in that it tackles how we live and use technology to help improve our lives — whether that ends up working or not. After a difficult divorce, Theodore grows more and more attached to an operating system, designed to grow and adapt to his needs. As his relationship to “Samantha” deepens, Theodore finds himself falling in love, which poses questions about his software’s ability to genuinely reciprocate.
The Lobster (2015)
In a near future, single adults have to meet a romantic partner within a set amount of time. If they fail to do so, they are turned into animals of their choosing. The Lobster follows a man who first seeks to find love and then teams up with other loners in an attempt to win their freedom and humanity.
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Another Spike Jonze outing, written by Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, Being John Malkovich is a trippy look at free will and how our brains and identities work. When a puppeteer finds a mysterious doorway into the mind of actor John Malkovich, he begins to experiment with his ability to take over another’s body.
Those are our top picks of movies and shows like Severance, for fans looking for more. Did Severance remind you of any titles you didn’t find on this list? Let us know in the comments.