Entertainment

The ‘quit job’ review: That makes two of you

Two years into the pandemic, you’d be forgiven for believing that the sci-fi aspect of Apple TV+’s “The Quit” is that it involves people working together in an office.

But for the housemates of the thrilling and repetitive “The Quit,” created by Dan Erickson and produced and partly directed by Ben Stiller, the arrangement is more than just ordinary often. It was the only life they had ever known.

Employees of Lumon Industries’ macrodata screening division, led by Mark Scout (Adam Scott), all agreed to surgery to partition work and personal in their brains.

As each of them walks into the office, a self-employed person, or “innie,” becomes conscious and becomes active. When it’s time to leave work, I’m not at the office, or “outie”, take over and go home, not remembering anything about life above work. Think of it like a nervous mullet: nerve in the frontal lobe, feast in the back.

Sweet deal, right? No more balancing work and personal life, no more bringing home the stress of the office, no more Monday morning dreads. That can be bliss, at least for either of you.

As for Lumon’s employees – well, they have two souls.

At the kick-off, which begins Friday, employees work contentedly in their classic minimalist offices, sorting through numbers on computer terminals. They fit neat workplace sitcom archetypes: Irving (John Turturro), a spirited veteran; Dylan (Zach Cherry), the skeptic of skepticism; and Mark, the good guy, is struggling with the responsibilities he inherited when his former team leader (Yul Vazquez) suddenly disappears. (Sounds important; it is.)

Their arrangement is shaken when the arrival of a new colleague, Helly (Britt Lower), who wakes up at the conference table in a daze. (“Am I dead?” She asked. “Am I a pet?”) After she made a brief, rough, and violent attempt to run away, Mark explained that she was free will of her own – “her” means her version of an affair, whose permission Helly will need to get out. Anyway, as Mark notes, “Quitting smoking will effectively end your life, as long as you’ve known about it.”

There was something different about Helly, whom Lower played with a tense intensity. She failed to become a team player, despite her training, bonding exercises, and threats of “break room” (the first of which, in Lumon, is more of a verb than noun). She is a cranky person. In one gripping season, she gives her co-workers an itch that makes them question their top-secret work and outside lives, and rebel.

The forces against them include the dead, the fearsome boss, Harmony Cobel (Patricia Arquette); politicians who are pushing to expand the use of technology quit their jobs; and in a way, being themselves out of their office.

Sci-fi stories of altered consciousness, from “They Live” to “The Matrix” to “Go Home,” often involve people being possessed by aliens or demonic organizations. let their mind be tortured. “Quit” asks if, if encouraged, you would subdue a part of yourself, giving your hard work to someone else, much like Homer Simpson deferring your problems to “Future Homer.” (“Dude, I’m not jealous of that guy!”)

Playful and funny, “Severance” is like a Charlie Kaufman-designed nightmare, from its menacing mid-century setting to the way it sketches out the reclusive lives of the tribesmen. They walk through the elevator doors at the end of work, then return immediately to start the day, as if someone had cut the rest of their lives and twisted the rest into a Mobius strip.

Underpinning the hilarious surrealism is the series’ sense of the soft tyranny of the modern workplace. Struggling workers get a meeting with a “healthcare” counselor (Dichen Lachman) who helps them defuse light-hearted trivia about living out of place. Milchick (Tramell Tillman), the terrifyingly cheerful HR rep, grants small perks like a five-minute dance or a “waffle party,” a goofy reward that becomes pervasive. when you realize that their days will begin forever after breakfast and end before dinner.

The film’s tone and color palette changes as we leave the office with Mark, who, as we know, has volunteered to quit his job after losing his wife. For him, activism is a means of creating a grief-free second self. Scott’s features transform as Mark goes outie, his face flattening like a flat tire.

Mark’s home life is not without drama; Unbeknownst to him, as he has no memory of the office, Harmony lives next door, probing him under the guise of a sly neighbor. But perhaps because of the sadness (Scott feels more alive as the fake office guy, as in “Parks and Recreation”), the scenes outside follow, with a chilling atmosphere to match. with Mark’s gloom. Lumon may be a high-tech, but it’s by far the more enjoyable place to spend time as a viewer.

The nine-episode season suffers from a streaming slump in the middle, but it gets you in early and picks up speed late, as data collectors learn more about Lumon and its other divisions. (Turturro’s Irving oozes sweet flirtation with a polite associate played by Christopher Walken.) It all adds up to a tense, awesome season finale that feels like a racing car heading into a straight line. into a brick wall, in the best way.

The premise of “The layoff” may appear out of date with the times. After all, months of Slack and Zoom team meetings have blurred the lines between work and home, not carving them with a scalpel. But the story lines up perfectly at a time when, through the stresses and disruptions of the pandemic, workers have come to terms with what they are being asked to do. for theirs to get paid. This could be the first great TV show of Great resignation.

There are also hints that the severance could have an application outside of the workplace, which holds promise for future seasons. How many annoying aspects of life people might want to outsource to create another version of themselves – or even to make someone is different forget, with the help of a little brain? In what paradise could you live if your alter ego could, like Persephone, live in hell?

In fact, “The Urgency” resonates so well with a modern-day allegory that it feels like a slight mistake for the series to describe Lumon the way it does – as a kind of cult. cult, with fanatical devotion to the 19th-century founder and his quasi-biblical aphorisms. (“Do not let weakness live in your veins.”)

As we know from practice, it doesn’t take a monstrous horrible organization to abuse productivity-enhancing technology. It is just business.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/arts/television/severance-review.html The ‘quit job’ review: That makes two of you

Fry Electronics Team

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