In an era where technology has impacted almost every aspect of our lives, is it possible that these advancements could even perfect our relationships? That’s the central question at the center of Made for Love which is set to debut April 1 on HBO Max. Sure, if we are starving, it’s entirely possible to just hit a few buttons and order something from Uber Eats, but can issues with communication between you and your spouse be solved in relatively the same manner? There are limits to what even technology can accomplish, but what if someone invented a cloud-based system that syncs your minds, and there were never any secrets.
In this dark-minded comedy inspired by Alissa Nutting’s work, tech mogul Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen, enigmatic and appealing) has created just that. However, before he launches this product to the general public, Byron decided that his wife Hazel (an electric Cristin Milioti) will join him in being patient 1. The problem is that not only is she unaware that he’s reached this conclusion, but Hazel is already part of the program. Everywhere she goes, everything she does is closely monitored and even analyzed beyond belief. One simple microchip that’s implanted in her skull, and all of her innermost thoughts are at her husband’s fingertips.
Made for Love is a series about choice. In an age where certain ideological beliefs would say it’s fine for others to dictate what a woman can and can’t do, the idea of someone having that much insight into another is just chilling. Having this type of information gives an individual too much power and allows them to create any reality they desire. You could be anything your partner wanted. Happiness would certainly be in reach. Byron doesn’t realize that the appearance of happiness and actually being happy are two very different things.
Hazel clearly fell for the appearance of happiness and the idea of getting anything she could ever want. Byron views it as a competition, in the same manner he views technology. Any advantage that he sees, he will take. What’s crazy is that he doesn’t view being synched up to your spouse as anything other than a means to an end. What both have grown to realize is that Love is neither about appearance nor competing. Love is complicated and has no absolutes.
Made for Love is anything but subtle. The writers take numerous opportunities during the first four episodes (which critics were allowed to review) to make certain statements. For example, Hazel and Byron’s wedding bands look like handcuffs, which is certainly in line with the show’s tone. Absent choice or free thought, it’s like women are locked away forever. In this technologically driven world, taking away choice and free thought is essentially like being in prison. Hazel’s dad (hilariously played by Ray Romano) spends a great deal of time during the first few episodes explaining the virtues of having a synthetic partner because they are more open-minded romantically. Again, there’s the normalization of a woman (or, in this case, a doll) not being allowed to have a choice or an opinion. Of course, we could spend tons of time dissecting Byron’s last name as well.
What makes this series special is both its writing and the performances of Milioti and Magnussen. The writers have managed to weave within the first four episodes a perfect balance between current events and what actually transpired, allowing Hazel to be swept up in Byron’s big fantasy. Milioti is the perfect heroine for this tale. She exudes such strength as Hazel while showing just enough vulnerability to allow audiences to see why she’d be into Byron. Magnussen’s portrayal of Byron is the perfect mix of zealotry and egocentric behavior. When Byron tells Hazel that he’s the only person who can love her objectively, he believes because of the data he now has access to.
Made for Love is one of the best new series of 2021, with the potential of developing the same type of following shows like Westworld have. Shows like this don’t come around often. Let’s hope it finds an audience.
Made for Love premieres April 1 on HBO Max.
Photo credit: John P. Johnson/HBO Max