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Mysterious TV Shows That Severance Fans Need To Watch

Dan Erickson's sci-fi mystery "Severance" on Apple TV+ became a widely celebrated show during the past few months. It's easy to understand why the debut season appealed to so many viewers. It revived that thrilling and mysterious aura that once made Damon Lindelof's "Lost" a cultural phenomenon. Week by week, we got to know a small group of characters — some likable, some not — literally living two separate lives. With their memories surgically divided, employees of Lumon Industries don't remember their existences outside of their day jobs, nor do they remember anything that occurs during their workdays once they're off the clock. This premise has a rich potential that offers viewers something strangely captivating to discover and explore.

Mystery is a tricky genre. A good story can easily be ruined by a logical issue or a vague plot point at virtually any turn. That said, there are quite a few television programs that stand out for their secretive, gripping plots and relatable characters. Since "Severance" Season 1 ends with a mind-blowing cliffhanger that left viewers hanging, we gathered 12 shows with a similar spirit that you could watch until Season 2 arrives.

Lost

It only makes sense to start with one of the most famous and popular mystery dramas of all time. Created by Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams, and Damon Lindelof, "Lost" somewhat reinvented the genre. It added a refreshing spin on serialized television mysteries, using flashbacks in a way that no other series had done before. As is inevitable for a program that breaks new ground, "Lost" certainly isn't perfect, and made mistakes that some viewers haven't been able to forgive or accept ever since. Let's just say that despite its global fame, the last episode of "Lost" angered a lot of people. Still, the way "Lost" evolved its characters and introduced mind-boggling twists throughout its six-season run remains unparalleled.

The story follows a large group of passengers whose flight from Sydney to Los Angeles crashes on a strange island allegedly located somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. The survivors soon encounter the enigmatic and murderous entity known colloquially as the Smoke Monster, and their circumstances only get stranger and more dangerous from there. In each episode, the show's signature flashbacks focus on what individual characters were up to before the crash, essentially showing us the lives they lived and what kind of people they really were before their fateful trip on Oceanic 815.

During its original broadcast from 2004 to 2010, "Lost" won numerous awards, including honors from the Primetime Emmys, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild.

The Leftovers

After the "Lost" finale, Damon Lindelof was granted another chance to make something extraordinary. Based on Tom Perrotta's 2011 novel, "The Leftovers" is quite like "Lost" in the respect that both shows are ultimately character-driven pieces that, when they're at their best, keep their audience in a state of slight confusion that doesn't quite cross over into frustration. If the 121 episodes of network TV hit "Lost" sound like more than you've got time for, this prestige cable outing's total of 28 episodes — originally broadcast from 2014 to 2017 — is probably your better option.  

In the grim world of "The Leftovers," 2 percent of the world's population inexplicably vanishes. The series follows the lives of normal folks who involuntarily stay behind, including a police chief played by Justin Theroux; an especially unfortunate woman played by Carrie Coon whose husband and children are all among the disappeared; and her brother, a priest with controversial ideas played by Christopher Eccleston. In its main themes, the show tackles religion, grief, and trauma in a realistic and profound way. Although it never became as famous as "Lost," "The Leftovers" was highly praised by critics — especially Season 2 and 3. If you seek something even weirder and deeper than "Severance," this program is a perfect choice.

Servant

Apple TV+'s horror mystery "Servant" has been streaming since 2019, but it's still a relatively underrated gem. Created by Tony Basgallop, "Servant" is heavily influenced by executive producer M. Night Shyamalan, who also directed the pilot and three other episodes.

The plot follows Philadelphia couple Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose, aka Claire Fisher from "Six Feet Under") and Sean Turner (Toby Kebbell) after the tragic loss of their infant child Jericho. In an attempt to cope with their trauma, they begin transitory object therapy. This means they use a lifelike doll which is meant to help Dorothy readjust to reality. She treats the doll as if it's her real son while Sean plays along, hoping that this method could bring relief and closure for them. Six weeks in, they hire a nanny (Nell Tiger Free) to look after their "son." Not long after her arrival, Dorothy and Sean's lives go from tragic to tragic and terrifying. 

The creepy premise is definitely one of the biggest strengths of the series, but without compelling writing, direction, and performances, it wouldn't be nearly as thrilling and exciting as it is. If you want to see a truly thought-provoking and disturbing psychological horror, "Servant" is your show. 

The Shrink Next Door

Apple TV+'s 2021 miniseries doesn't involve supernatural or technological elements, and its mystery is on a much smaller scale than any other show on this list. Nonetheless, "The Shrink Next Door" offers a fascinating study on the human psyche. Based on a podcast, the eight-episode dramady dissects an unethical and mentally abusive relationship between doctor and patient. Its baffling story portrays a master manipulator who holds psychological control over many of his patients for decades. The questions the miniseries poses aren't just stimulating and puzzling; they're downright infuriating at times.

The plot follows a seemingly kind and humble psychiatrist, Dr. Isaac Herschkopf (Paul Rudd in charmingly evil mode), who exploits many of his patients for personal gain. He does so most excessively with a wealthy man named Marty Markowitz (a meek and restrained Will Ferrell). The eight-episode psychological dramedy is a shocking portrayal of selfishness, morality, and diminishing boundaries in a doctor-patient relationship.

Although it got mixed reviews from critics, "The Shrink Next Door" has received some praise for phenomenal performances from Rudd and Ferrell.

Dark

Foreign TV dramas need to be exceptional to stand out and capture the attention of the entire world. Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese's German sci-fi mystery "Dark" has achieved that status with a complex, inventive, and heart-breaking story. The series that ran for three seasons is also the first German-language original production of Netflix. The European country couldn't have made a better debut on the streaming service. During its run from 2017 to 2020, "Dark" impressed both critics and viewers, and BBC Culture ranked it as the 58th greatest TV series of the 21st century.

The plot follows the life of residents in a fictional German town called Winden after a respectable family's youngest child goes missing in the woods. As the family, police, and other members of the community investigate what happened to the boy, they discover that his disappearance is just the beginning of something much bigger — something involving time travel that can change the fate of not just the town and its people, but the entire world.

If you want to immerse yourself in a complicated riddle that operates with mind-bending conspiracies and beautifully played characters, "Dark" is one of the best picks you can go for.

Sharp Objects

Marti Noxon's 2018 miniseries "Sharp Objects" wasn't compared to the first season of Nic Pizzolatto's modern classic anthology show "True Detective" by accident. Perhaps "Sharp Objects" isn't as profound and emotionally consuming as the best episodes of "True Detective," but Noxon's crime drama definitely shares themes and an ominous tone with the elder HBO project. You might say "Sharp Objects" evokes a "True Detective"-style vibe in a different town. Critics and viewers highly praised the show, which was nominated for eight Primetime Emmy Awards back in 2019.

The plot is based on Gillian Flynn's 2006 debut novel of the same name, and it follows crime reporter Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) who struggles with mental health issues while investigating a double homicide in the usually sleepy town where she grew up. Going back to the place that is the root of her problems couldn't be a worse idea, yet she's determined to solve the murder case and face the demons she's been running from her entire life.

Black Mirror

If we're putting together a list of futuristic and eerie television, Charlie Brooker's British anthology series "Black Mirror" can't go unmentioned. When the show premiered in 2011, its storytelling method pumped new blood into the genre by thoroughly exploring the dark side of technology and focusing on the disquieting effects that these new inventions could have on society. To give you a sense of the range of "Black Mirror," one of its most acclaimed episodes happens to be a touching love story. This is a show that can make you cry at the end of the aforementioned "San Junipero," and quake with fear of the murderous robot dogs in a different episode.   

The genre of "Black Mirror" jumps around from satire to horror to edge-of-your-seat thriller, but its primary focus is depicting some form of dystopia where science is used for unethical reasons. "Black Mirror" consists of 22 episodes that aired over the course of eight years. During that time, the program won the Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding television movie three times in a row and generally received high praise from critics for the majority of its seasons.

11.22.63

Bridget Carpenter's 2016 miniseries "11.22.63" is among the better adaptations of Stephen King novels. Although it's far from perfect, its portrayal of the 1960s is an accurate and thorough representation of King's adoration for that time period. Besides the author, the program was executive produced by J.J. Abrams and showrunner Carpenter. Critics of the mid-2010s liked the show for its compelling performances and storytelling method.

The plot follows Jake Epping (James Franco), a divorced English teacher who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. However, his trip to the 1960s proves more complicated than simply tracking down Lee Harvey Oswald, beating him up, and handing him over to the authorities. Jake starts to get comfortable in the 1960s, which causes all kinds of unexpected complications.  

Due to the show's premise, there's no shortage of mysterious events and dubious characters in "11.22.63," which is why "Severance" fans should take a chance on it.

Carnivàle

When it comes to enigmas and obscure stories, HBO's short-lived period drama "Carnivàle" can't go unmentioned. Daniel Knauf's series was acclaimed for its atmosphere and style. It presents a special world of social outcasts during the Great Depression that no thematically similar series could replicate on the same level of quality — although Guillermo Del Toro's Oscar-nominated 2021 crime drama "Nightmare Alley" comes pretty close.

The plot of "Carnivàle" follows a traveling carnival and its members — a group of runaways, freaks, crooks, and other strange people who couldn't live within the normal rules of 1930s society. A few of them possess supernatural capabilities, while others have physical disabilities. The one thing that connects them all, however, is that they all believe in a greater power. Essentially, the show tells the story of a never-ending epic war between good and evil.

Although "Carnivàle" was somewhat well received by critics starting from its 2003 premiere and won five Primetime Emmys in 2005, due to its high production value and declining ratings, HBO cancelled it after two seasons.

Mr. Robot

Anyone who watched Sam Esmail's techno-thriller "Mr. Robot" week by week knows about the combination of great excitement and frustration after each episode. It's not a show that offers easy solutions or straightforward answers for its viewers, but that's part of what makes it so impressive and addictive. The conspiracy theories and psychological games inside the mind of a brilliant, clinically depressed, socially anxious hacker kept us on the edge of our seats for four years. The plot points and themes of "Mr. Robot" lingered in our minds for weeks. It almost goes without saying that critics were in awe after each season, and the show won three Primetime Emmys during its run from 2015 to 2019.

The plot follows troubled hacker Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) who joins forces with a clandestine group of digital anarchists led by the mysterious Mr. Robot (Christian Slater). Esmail's drama isn't an easy-on-the-mind show, but it's worth all the attention that's been invested in it because the reward is one of the best series made in the last decade.

Homecoming

"Mr. Robot" creator Sam Esmail pulls executive producer duties for "Homecoming," and the two shows share a capacity for stylish direction, consuming atmosphere, highbrow dialogue, and overwhelming emotional and mental weight. The scale is slightly smaller for "Homecoming," but the outcome is similarly satisfying. The main difference is "Homecoming" is an anthology series, and we're only focusing on its first season from 2018.

Season 1 follows Heidi Bergman (Julia Roberts), a waitress who was previously employed as a social worker at a mysterious facility known as Homecoming, ostensibly designed to guide veterans through the process of reentering civilian society. When a government investigator tracks down Heidi to learn more about her tenure at Homecoming, we soon find out that the show's namesake is not all it appears to be. "Homecoming" Season 1 also includes performances by Sissy Spacek of 1976's "Carrie" and Alex Karpovsky, noted for his portrayal of Ray Ploshansky on HBO's "Girls."

"Homecoming" received positive reviews from critics in 2018 and was nominated for numerous awards.

Atlanta

As Donald Glover, the mastermind behind this FX series, once explained, "I just always wanted to make 'Twin Peaks' with rappers." That description perfectly fits the creator's unique project, which has been airing sporadically since 2016. Glover's show combines a vision of mundane and realistic everyday life in Atlanta, and beyond, with a surrealist sensibility that's unlike any other program. "Atlanta" is frequently hilarious, sometimes thought provoking, and every now and again, it's deeply disturbing.

Season 1 of "Atlanta" starts with Earnest "Earn" Marks (Glover) — a flat broke college dropout who can't afford to take care of himself, much less his infant daughter. Luckily, Earn's cousin Alfred "Paper Boi" Miles (Bryan Tyree Henry) is a rapper on the cusp of blowing the heck up. Earn campaigns to become Paper Boi's manager, and after a bumpy start, they form a successful working relationship and become increasingly significant in each other's lives. They're also aided by the guidance and quirky perspective of Darius Epps (LaKeith Stanfield), Alfred's closest friend.