Severance TV show keyboards don’t have an Escape key and this is deeply scary

If you had the option to alter your brain so that your work life and your personal life are two separate realities, would you do it? On Apple TV+’s Severance program, it’s possible to do just that, and surprisingly, there are people who say yes to that question. The procedure leaves one stream of consciousness to enjoy life outside of work, to never be bogged down by stress, while the other exists only to crunch the 9-5.

Sounds exciting to half your brain, right?

An eagle-eyed spectator of the show, Krystina Nellis, noticed a small detail of the show that I missed; one of the many little details that make this show as captivating as it is. In the office space shared by some of these ‘separate’ employees, the custom keyboard they use for their work (sorting numbers into folders based on sentiment – it’s a whole thing) has no visible Escape key.

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This seems a little too much to be an accidental omission, and there’s something rather odd about it.

Although the keyboard itself is kind of weird, mainly because it doesn’t offer the usual keys you’d expect for normal office life. However, it feels old-school mechanic, and I dare say I’m kind of a fan of its twisted IBM aesthetic, even if it’s a little creepy.

The entire office where the laid-off top employees exist is also very scary. It’s a labyrinth of long, luminous corridors that seemingly lead nowhere, with nods to the mundane office life that is utterly devoid of idiosyncrasies and means of escape. The best way to describe it in gaming terms, which I tend to do, is perhaps a resemblance to The Oldest House areas of Remedy’s Control or The Stanley Parable office. Though it must be said that no game is compatible with Severance’s story – more just the creepy corporate vibes.

It reminds me of when Netflix’s psychotropic series Maniac used air coolers glued to a headphone jack to create a sort of dream/subconscious brain-invading interface, the sort of thing Steam billionaire CEO Gabe Newell does. I would like to try. Another reminder to keep an eye out to see how your favorite PC tech might find an alternative use in the hands of a set or prop designer.

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