Severance's Computers Were Actually Functional, Including The Numbers On Screen

The captivating sci-fi workplace thriller "Severance" exists in a world that is familiar and simultaneously unrecognizable. On the surface, the white walls and structurally organized world of the mega-corporation Lumon Industries resembles just about every soul-sucking office job with its employees trapped within the confines of meticulously designed buildings. But with a department dedicated to feeding baby goats, a break room that doubles as psychological torture, and a Perpetuity Wing dedicated to recreating the company founder's former home, I've never been more grateful to work from home full time. "Severance" is constantly twisting our preconceived notions of what it means to be a cog in the corporate machine, and manipulating them into something far more unsettling.

This psychological subversion isn't reserved only for the characters, but is embedded in the DNA of the series from all sides, especially the production design. Lumon Industries is positioned as leaders in the field of technological advancements, with their inventive Severance chip allowing employers to surgically divide the memories of their employees between work and personal lives. Yet, stepping into the Macro Data Refinement (MDR) office that houses our main characters looks ... off. The bleak uniformity as shown in something like "Office Space" provides a sense of familiarity, but for what is assumed to be a booming technological industry, the materials look somewhat primitive. The computers the workers use look like something out of an elementary school typing class from 1998, but the Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors are somehow touchscreen. Nothing about the tools presented in the Lumon offices makes any sort of logical sense, and according to the show's production designer, Jeremy Hindle, this decision was intentional.


In a recent interview with The Verge, Hindle explains that the goal of the confusing-looking computers was to emphasize the purgatory-esque state of Lumon Industries. The touchscreen availability on an archaic-looking monitor and the massive trackball attached to the chunky, bright blue keyboard was "to design a device that doesn't make a lot of sense." Hindle said that the technology seen on the Severance floor in the underground world of Lumon Industries should not exist anywhere above ground. Even weirder, the computers are completely functional. "The trackball just cracked me up," he said. "We kept thinking, 'If you're experimenting with these people, what would you put in front of them?'"

When we see our beloved MDR team chugging away on filling numbers, they're actually working. Just as the MDR workers, they also don't know exactly what they're filing or what the numbers mean, but the images that appear on screen aren't superimposed with CGI, they're appearing naturally. Hindle says that the computers had been revised multiple times to make sure the sizing was correct for filming, ensuring that they were big enough to be seen but not so big that they'd pull focus, block actors, or screw up any eye lines in production. The computers were just one piece of the scrupulous attention to detail showcased throughout the season, but one I'm sure we'll see super fans try to mod in their personal lives sooner rather than later.