‘Severance’ Creator Says Writing Fake Self-Help Book Was ‘Me Purging All the Dumbness I Have’

Dan Erickson revealed that writing the show's fake books is his favorite part of making "Severance."

One of the most popular aspects of “Severance” is its world building, with the Apple hit drawing rave reviews for creating one of the strangest settings on TV. The Lumon corporation is known for being bland and mysterious, with its “severed” employees who split their consciousness in half spending their work lives in a sterile and joyless environment. But that only increases the significance of the touches of detail that the creators chose to add.

One of the few ways that Mark (Adam Scott) finds life within the cold walls of the severed wing is by reading “The You You Are,” a cheesy self-help book written by his character’s real-life brother-in-law Ricken (Michael Chernus). The book is utterly ridiculous (much like Ricken himself), and fans have enjoyed watching Mark apply the nonsensical platitudes to his very real problems. Apparently, series creator Dan Erickson does too.

Erickson recently explained his process for writing the goofy book to Vulture, calling it one of his favorite parts of working on the show.

“If I could, I would write the in-universe books and materials all the time. I really like writing the show, too, but I think that’s my favorite thing to do,” Erickson said. “Ricken’s book is much more stream-of-consciousness than anything else, because I don’t see Ricken as a big rewriter or even a big checker of the things he does. With Ricken, it just sort of pours out. It’s me purging all the dumbness I have, but then it keeps coming back somehow. It’s so fun and so ridiculous.”

While the character of Ricken is not “severed” like most of the series’ leads, Michael Chernus has become a fan favorite for his scene stealing role. Erickson agrees with fans who can’t imagine any other actor in the part, and he said that he only came up with many of the funniest lines in the book once he could picture Chernus saying them.

“Especially once Michael [Chernus] was cast in the role, it became so much easier,” he said. “Because I would just sit at my desk and do a little Michael impression and try to get in that headspace, and then it all just comes.”

Season 1 of “Severance” is currently streaming on Apple TV+.

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