Made For Love’s About Escaping the Tangled Web of Other People’s Minds


Cristin Milioti as Hazel Green.

Cristin Milioti as Hazel Green.
Screenshot: HBO Max

Though HBO Maxs new series Made For Love, an adaptation of Alissa Nuttings 2017 novel of the same name, is charged with the same foreboding dread about a technology-saturated near future thats present in Black Mirror, the show imagines a hero who has enough sense to understand how messed up the world she lives in is.

Black Mirror and other techno panic-y stories like it tend to center characters seemingly caught up in the thick of Twilight Zone plots that strip them of their ability to operate with basic common sense. But Made For Lovestarring Cristin Milioti, who coincidentally starred in one of the best Black Mirror episodesinstead spotlights a young woman perfectly situated to recognize the direness of her situation. Before the series (which debuted its first three episodes last week) explains the specific circumstances that brought housewife Hazel Green (Palm Springs Milioti) and her husband, tech luminary Byron Gogol (Aladdins Billy Magnussen), into each others lives, it first establishes the ridiculous lengths Hazels willing to go to in order to escape from the compound-like home the couple shares somewhere in the desert.

Though Made For Love plays elements of Hazels escape from her marital pseudo-prison for laughs, the show never lets you forget that its quite serious in its discussion of how the money and power begotten by way of modern-day technologies arent the magic bullets that Silicon Valley types insist they are. As Hazel stumbles through the wilderness, disoriented but elated at her newfound freedom, Made For Love begins fleshing out the details of its world that bears the undeniable marks of Byrons outsider, Google-like influence on society (yes, his company is literally named Gogol). Everything from the phones and tablets people carry to the very data systems that bring them together through their devices connections are testaments to Gogols power. Here, reflecting on our own society, the company has become so great to the point that most people simply dont care about the obvious nefariousness present.

Hazel being harassed to rate her most recent orgasm.

Hazel being harassed to rate her most recent orgasm.
Screenshot: HBO Max

Byron Gogols greatest trick was convincing the public to literally buy into his vision of a future where technology created to help him overcome his own debilitating inability to relate to other people is considered normal. In flashbacks interspersed with the present, Made For Love shows you how Hazel, like most everyone else in the world, accepted Gogol into her relatively ordinary life with little question. The sheer improbability of that ever happening is part of what made the couples meeting so magical for Hazelat firstbut as the premiere opens, shes more than familiar with the insidious ways that Byron uses his eccentricities to (poorly) mask his profound brokenness from the world.

While everyone else on the planet believes that Byrons still-in-development Made For Love neural implant hes testing on his pool-circling pet dolphin, Zelda, is the first step toward Gogols research into communicating with animals, Hazel knows the dark truth from firsthand experience. At some point into their decade-long marriage, after having long since realized that she and Byron werent compatible, Hazel was stunned to discover that she, like Zelda, had been chipped by Byron without her knowledge or consent. The story frames Hazels chip as the final straw that prompts her to finally follow through on the wild escape shed likely been dreaming up for years, but as the series unfolds, she soon realizes how physically leaving Byrons only the beginning of her fight.

Principled and grounded a person as Hazel is, the storydoesnt make her out to be an intentionally transformative or revolutionary figure, but rather, a regular woman who was perfectly content to mind her own business until she because the object of fascination of a man with entirely too much money and time at his disposal. No matter where Hazel goes or who she asks for help, Byron not only knows where she is, but actually sees through her eyes, hears through her ears, and reads her vital signs via the implant. All of this serves to reinforce the fact that even if people were to believe her story, theres little they could do individually to fight back against him. Even more menacing, though, is Byrons true goal of implanting himself with a Made For Love chip that would leave his and Hazels minds intricately interwoven.

Because Hazels been abused and traumatized, and because there are so many ideas swirling around the early episodes, it takes a bit of time before the character Miliotis going for really becomes clear. Though happenstance makes her the unwitting leader of a campaign of one committed to decry Byron and Gogol for being blights unto society, Made For Love shows you that Hazel wasnt above accepting the luxury her new lifestyle afforded her, or immune to the wonder that Byrons tech was crafted to light up in people. Part of the reason for this was her upbringing, which is touched on a bit in the flashbacks, but mostly becomes clear when she seeks out help from her father Herbert (Ray Romano), a widower whos found new purpose in life after starting a one-sided relationship with a sex doll.

Herbert and his companion.

Herbert and his companion.
Screenshot: HBO Max

Magnussens Byron will remind you of any number of the alarmingly-squared jawed villains whove enjoyed residencies within Ryan Murphys American Horror Story-verse, as well as Matt Ross Gavin Belson, Silicon Valleys barely-heightened parody of basically every modern-day tech CEO. Made For Love alternates between depicting Byron as an out-of-touch megalomaniac of the Patrick Bateman variety and a clueless, helpless man who, in a different set of circumstances, could have benefited greatly from having some actual friends in his life who werent also his employees. For instance, Byrons researcher Fiffany (Harry Potter and the Cursed Childs Noma Dumezweni)who earnestly leads the chip research with the hopes of changing the world for the betterknows that her boss is a few venture capitalists short of having a Series A round of morality.

But Fiffany, Hazel, and others abided by his wild whims because its what society expected of them, and that reality is ultimately what Made For Love sets up as the challenge Hazels up against. By making her journey one about leaving a profoundly abusive, exploitative marriage to the embodiment of modern capitalism, the story is about the personal sphere as much as the public onesimilar to Marvels WandaVision when it straddled the gap between Westview and the MCU outside of the Hex. Glitches feature largely throughout Made For Loves effective reminders of just how near-futuristic its worlds meant to be, and while its VFX never really becomes dazzling, that too serves as a reminder that the ideas the shows working with arent really all that far fetched.

Made For Love might not be the kind of wild, action-packed ride people imagine themselves tuning in to watch week-to-week in the era where streaming services are behaving more and more like terrestrial network television and premium cable. But as a slight shift away from shows about people in capes and aliens descending from the heavens, Made For Loves a more-than-solid new sci-fi series to dive into.

The first three episodes of Made For Love are now streaming on HBO Max and a new installment drops tomorrow.


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