5 Reasons Ricken From Severance is Actually Brilliant — and Dangerous

Jen Freymond
5 min readMay 5, 2023

Severance was my favorite show of 2022 — It’s dark, desperately sad, mysterious, hilarious, and frightening, and we all have theories about what’s really going on in the labyrinthian halls of corporate giant Lumon. While impatiently waiting for season 2’s release date, I’ve been re-watching the show. Again. And this time I’ve started to see some things in a new way.

Mark’s brother-in-law, Ricken, would be an easy character to dismiss as a vaguely culturally-appropriative (I don’t know, kelp hanging?), philosophizing douchebag — this is, after all, how Mark sees him — whose main role on the show is to add comedy, but the more I watch Severance the more I see the brilliance — and potential danger — of Ricken.

1. He seems to have a following.

The first time I watched the no-dinner dinner party, I saw it as a very funny display of pretension for pretension’s sake. It set up the playful, dry, and loving relationship between Mark and his sister, Devin, and paints Ricken as the perfect earnest, self-important foil to Mark’s practicality and cynicism.

But each time I watch it my appreciation for what’s really going on here, and Ricken’s role in it, grows. He has gathered a group of… friends? Colleagues? who all seem eager to bend over backward to agree with him or otherwise display their intellectual prowess. Unfortunately, it turns out that there’s not much to display.

There’s Patton, who is giddy with excitement when he shares that World War 1 wasn’t called that at the time of the war (he read this in a “think piece”). To which Mark replies what we’re all thinking: World War 2 hadn’t happened yet, so it obviously wouldn’t have been called World War 1. Duh, bro.

Then there’s Rebecc (no I did not forget the a, she goes by Rebecc), who excitedly exclaims, “I love literature!” She wants so badly to participate in this conversation but comes across as a bit empty-headed. Both characters come off like young children who desperately want to impress their parents but lack the knowledge to do so.

Ricken has surrounded himself with people who are clearly suggestible, and most likely malleable (or are they, too, severed in some way?), all of whom seem to hang on his every word.

2. He presents blatant un-truths as facts.

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Jen Freymond

Co-host of the podcast “I Never Saw That.” Humor writer and satirist. Find my work in McSweeney’s, The Belladonna, Little Old Lady, etc... Twitter: @jenfreymond