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Severance: How The Show Helped Adam Scott Process His Grief After His Mother Passed

Adam Scott, best known for his comedic performances in shows like "Party Down" and "Parks & Recreation," took quite the swerve with "Severance." The acclaimed Apple TV+ sci-fi psychodrama saw him playing Mark Scout, one of many employees at the enigmatic Lumon Industries who have been "severed," undergoing a procedure that cleaves their consciousness. At work, employees have no idea who they are in the outside world, and vice versa. 

It's a premise with terrifying implications, not to mention emotionally fraught. It also allowed Scott to give a performance that gained him his first Emmy nomination. And according to an interview with AV Club, performing the part of Mark allowed him to come to terms with his mother's death, giving him the chance to fully grieve. Scott's mother had passed away during the pandemic, six months before 'Severance' sharted shooting.

"When I got to New York to shoot, it became immediately clear to me that I still had a lot of grieving to do and a lot to contend with," said Scott. "It would have to happen one way or another while I was here." As viewers of "Severance" will know, grief is a big part of the series' thematic structure, particularly Mark's character.

Grief in art and in life

While it would probably be a bit glib and insensitive to call Adam Scott's real-life grief one more behind-the-scenes experience that led to the show being so effective, he himself says that the show helped him go through his real-life mourning. "...opening the script up, the show was right there in front of me," he told AV Club. "I processed it through 'Severance' and went through it and tried to confront it through the show. It ended up really helping me. I'm grateful. It's almost like the show was there for me as a friend." While Scott was, of course, grateful for the ways in which his family helped him feel better during the initial stages of loss, he also acknowledged that there are stages of grief when one loses someone as significant as a parent. "This particular stage hit me when I was by myself, so I turned to the show, and I'm really glad that I did. It ended up being a healthy way to go through it."

In "Severance," Scott's character, Mark, has recently lost his wife in a car accident. As he tells other characters outside of work, one of the reasons he got the job at Lumon and get himself severed was to help with the grief from that loss. But ultimately, he is only avoiding that grief, as his work self knows nothing about him or his past outside of the company. But this, as Mark and other characters are forced to confront in their own ways, simply won't do. The severed employees are only shadows of their full selves, unable to grab onto the experiences that actually make them human, like love, friendship, and grief.