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Apple won’t even tell Ben Stiller how many of you are watching Severance

There’s no doubt that Severance is a hit — the show’s first season made our best entertainment of 2022 list even as it “paints the darkest possible portrait of how megacorporations think about and treat their employees.” For a real-life example of that treatment, all you have to ask is what happens when the people who make Severance ask Apple how big of a hit it really is.

In a bit of frustration that will feel familiar to anyone who has tried to figure out what Apple means when touting the performance of its custom ARM processors, it turns out that even Ben Stiller, the executive producer and director of Severance, couldn’t get hold of detailed data on how many people are watching. Here’s what he said in an interview with Decider:

“They don’t tell you the numbers. It’s really weird. So, you get these graphs and charts, like I said, that have like peaks and valleys. But you don’t know what the baseline is. I guess could be like, based on 100 people or could be like, 200 million people. We don’t know. They basically say, ‘Yeah, this is doing well.’ You’re trying to interpret what they’re saying.”

As he went on to mention, this is consistent with how other streamers, like Netflix and even Disney Plus, have frustrated their viewers, industry watchers, and at times the people who make their original content by refusing to cough up details on viewer data.

52 Emmy nominations and an award-hunting “special conversation” event are obviously a good sign, but I want to know: how does Severance stack up next to something like Better Call Saul? Can it beat NVIDIA’s RTX 3090 using real stats instead of some bizarre wattage-based power consumption comparison? Just like Apple’s M-series processor family, we know Severance’s performance is impressive, and having reasonable figures to help evaluate that could save everyone time and confusion.

Regardless of how many people watched the show, or what happens during the Emmy Awards on September 12th, season two of Severance is already in the works.

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