The Need To Deliver With Severance Isn't Lost On Ben Stiller

Season 1 of the Apple TV+ series "Severance" won over critics and audiences alike with its unique premise: employees at a shadowy corporation, Lumon, undergo a procedure to separate their work and home lives, essentially creating a dual existence. The impeccable performances and riveting storylines kept viewers captivated right up until the shocking season finale. The Lumon Macrodata Refinement team of Mark Scout (Adam Scott), Helly Riggs (Britt Lower), Irving Bailiff (John Turturro), and Dylan George (Zach Cherry) finds a way to briefly release their "innie" sides to the outside world, helping them make connections between their two severed halves. 

The cliffhanger ending of Season 1 — where Mark, Helly, and Irving are abruptly returned to their outie states in mid-revelation — leaves several questions unanswered for Season 2 and "Severance" creator Dan Erickson and director Ben Stiller are acutely aware of their obligation to audiences. In April, Stiller told Deadline, "Dan really had a clear idea of everything that was going on, all these unanswered questions, and we felt like we wanted to hopefully draw the audience in enough and answer enough questions, but also leave unanswered questions that we know we will answer."  

However, Stiller and Erickson also appreciate that such storytelling tactics bring an element of risk.

Director Ben Stiller keeps the audience in mind when crafting Severance

Ben Stiller and Dan Erickson spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the high stakes and deep worldbuilding of "Severance" Season 1, specifically as it relates to the audience's expectations. "You see how the audience is watching every moment and every detail," Stiller said. "It's a responsibility." 

The veteran actor, producer, and director understands that leaving some plot questions unanswered at the season's end can be risky and explained that he and Erickson kept that in mind when crafting the finale. "There's no closure, but we felt like hopefully the audience would be engaged enough that they would want to have another season," Stiller said. "People bring a lot of their own feelings about other shows that didn't answer questions or kept kicking the can down the road. We were really aware of that and wanted to make sure that we knew the answers to questions."

Stiller announced in an April Instagram post that "Severance" would return for at least a second season and explained to The Hollywood Reporter that keeping the series' intended finishing point in mind will help them craft episodes for Season 2 and potentially beyond. "Going forward, we are going to answer questions and pose new ones," Stiller promised, "but there definitely is an end point for the show that Dan has in mind."