The first big surprise of 2022 is an Apple TV+ dystopia about the intrusion of work into our lives

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There is something in this fascinating mildly dystopian series of Apple TV + reminiscent of science fiction proposals with a metaphorical component. I’m thinking about films (with a very different tone and aesthetic than this ‘Separation’) such as ‘They are alive’, ‘Society’ or the most recent ‘Let me out’. Proposals that use the springs of science fiction to propose metaphors as obvious and direct as a punch, and that must be interpreted, in a certain sense, literally.

Alien invasions in which direct orders are sent to us such as “Consume” or “Obey”, rich people who absorb the humblest classes -also physically-, whites who transplant their brains into healthy black bodies… the metaphor appears naked before us and we do not have to do a sophisticated exercise of interpretation, because the proposal is so wild that its very formulation carries the message implicitly. Something like this happens in ‘Separation’, of which Apple TV + has released its first three chapters.

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What we have here is a company dedicated to organizing mysterious data whose meaning we do not know but which is of such importance that forces your employees to have a surgical intervention that makes them forget their life outside the office, and vice versa. In other words, outside of work, employees do not know what they do during office hours, and once they enter the facilities, they do not remember anything about their life outside.

The metaphor is so pure that it does not require much clarification: ‘Separation’ speaks of how our often dehumanizing jobs force us to nullify ourselves as people and consecrate ourselves to work. The workers of ‘Separation’, at least mentally, only have the work in their heads, since they do not remember their private lives. They are perfect machines for continuous labor movement.

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This proposal fits like a glove in the peculiar aesthetics that the series possesses, which for the most part has been directed by Ben Stiller (who is not really here very far in spirit from his interests as a satirical comic, that of films like ‘ A madman at home’ or ‘Zoolander’). The style vintage of the offices, clean and almost disinfected, is the perfect environment for falsely human treatment that is given to its employees, both cold and eerily close (those awards for achieving goals that seem literally designed by robots).

‘Separation’ (which, by the way, coincides in its original title -‘Severance’- with an ultragore satire of life in the offices that we met here with the title of ‘Dismembered’) has countless malicious details that bring it closer to masterful comedies with life at work in the background. It is inevitable to find parallels with certain characters from ‘The Office’ or with that devastating ‘Trash Work’ and its epic demolition of consensual slavery from 8 to 5.

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And all this playing generic sticks that go from the mysterious confusion of series “with enigma” -with that start that shows us one of the protagonists waking up without remembering anything on a table in a meeting room- to the visually sophisticated dystopia in everything that concerns the facilities where the work takes place. From the parking lot with dozens of cars perfectly lined up to the endless and labyrinthine corridors, passing through the application of ordering “scary” numbers that office workers handle, everything is aimed at portraying a bleak and inhumane job.

It is impossible to determine where the shots will go in future episodes of ‘Separation’. The story can take a total turn towards the fantastic (invasion of artificial intelligences or extraterrestrials, delving into the disconcerting possibilities of a split mind ‘Legion’ style) or stay in the uncomfortable margins of labor satire with hints of science fiction. In any case, this Apple TV + series is already one of the essential finds of 2022.

There is something in this fascinating mildly dystopian series of Apple TV + reminiscent of science fiction proposals with a…

There is something in this fascinating mildly dystopian series of Apple TV + reminiscent of science fiction proposals with a…

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