A still from Severance

Apple TV Severance takes work-life balance to the extreme, transforming the brain. But it is not a utopia

WThe hat happens when our pursuit of work-life balance becomes so extreme that the two worlds completely separate?

If the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the routine of office work into a frenzy, the TV series directed by Ben Stiller to cut He refocused on the disadvantages of spending too much time in the workplace. While many have struggled with returning to the workplace physically, the new Apple TV+ program offers a fancy alternative and from the looks of it, it makes a somewhat compelling case.

The web series explores what might happen if you could medically separate your brain at work from your personal brain in life. In this imaginary world, the employees’ external self is called ‘external’ and the selves who stay inside office premises are ‘innocent’. The benches turn to his indoor office after they exit the elevator to their office. So a person at work does not remember his personal life – rather there is no life beyond what exists within the confines of his workplace, Lumon – and free from any emotional burdens. Likewise, when Otti leaves for home at the end of the day, he doesn’t remember what they did in those eight hours of the day. The dismissed person is deprived of his memories 40 hours a week. Isn’t that wonderful?


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Struggling with an old work routine

The pandemic has exposed the flaws of the old work routine. While it has forced employers to practice a culture of remote work, it has turned out to be a boon in disguise for many employees. Those who breastfeed their newborns, young children, sick parents, or those who tend to have their own personal struggles – “working from home” has helped people keep their jobs while also taking care of their personal affairs. For others, working from home was a curse, it didn’t provide an escape from personal life as it usually did and it was hard to stay motivated. With offices reopening, commuting between travelers wearing masks has proven to be a harrowing experience for many.

For decades, Nordic countries like Finland have prioritized and adopted flexible working hours and methods to enhance productivity and employee satisfaction. Countries like Japan compensate their employees for going to work.

It is safe to say that the concept of ‘workplace’ has evolved – for better or for worse – and oftentimes, the work environment and the stress associated with it have little effect on improving lives. Especially for women, who, by virtue of living in patriarchal families, end up working outside their normal working hours. This fact, of course, is not true for everyone, but we would deceive ourselves if we thought that most women do not put up with this on a daily basis. In fact, a LinkedIn study in India showed that “7 out of 10 working women in India are quitting or considering leaving their jobs due to the inflexible work environment.”


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The miserable reality of cutting

Therefore, the idea of ​​”breaking up” may seem tempting but the fictional world is not perfect. On the face of it, it has smooth, symmetrical footage which makes the series aesthetically pleasing. But the timing of pure work, devoid of any emotion and personality, can gradually become frustrating. And scary.

“This is our life. No one can turn you off,” said protagonist Mark Scout (Adam Scott) on the Apple TV+ series, though the show depicts strangers voluntarily signing up for a severance program — one driven by the loss of a loved one. , and the other driven by loneliness – their children still want to break free.

Innocent people engage in meaningless activities to keep them engaged and motivated to achieve their career goals. While hiring new employee Healy (Brett Lower) Mark says the work is “mysterious but important”. There are also seemingly useless (but well thought out) regulations such as restricted access to other departments of the workplace. And to discipline the sons and keep them in check, there are also punishments in the form of a horrific rest room. All this to achieve to keep employees focused on the tasks at hand.

The importance of work-life balance

Downtime may be just an extreme measure to address work stress and pressures in contemporary workplaces, but it is by no means sustainable. The pandemic has given us a taste of mixed workplaces, and the return to old ways comes with its own challenges.

According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center, “low wages, a lack of opportunity, and a sense of disrespect at work” are the main reasons behind the “Great Resignation” of 2021.

And intensity It shows how quickly a utopia can become a dystopia.

Opinions are personal.

This article is part of a series entitled Beyond the Reel on film and culture.

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