Launching on HBO Max on April 1, “Made For Love,” based on the novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, came to life on the silver screen. The series takes place in the present day, as well as flashbacks up to 10 years. The new dark-comedy has a bit of a “wild” concept. The two main characters are Hazel Green-Gogol (Cristin Milioti), a high-energy college student turned trapped housewife, and Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen), a tech-billionaire with ulterior motives, who is determined to make the next big thing in technology, a chip that merges the thoughts and emotions of couples.
The series opens with Hazel escaping, as her marriage turned out to be more than meets the eye. She is giving evidence that relationships that look perfect on paper are often the most suffocating. For example, As the episode progresses, we learn that Byron had a chip implanted in her brain that not only tracks her location, but watches her and collects her emotional data. Not to mention, when she was at the hub (the high-tech home he created), she was put on a strict schedule and never allowed to leave. Given the controlling nature of the relationship, it’s not hard to see why the relationship didn’t work out.
As Byron continues to spiral over Hazel’s absence, she decides to go to the last place she believes he would look, her dad’s house. Upon arriving, she catches her dad, Herb ( Ray Romano), off guard in bed with his prosthetic partner, Diane, who is just a sex doll. Without asking any questions, she falls asleep only to be transported to a flashback of her sitting by the pool wearing a cute but stylish floppy beach hat and taking a sip of water. However, right after the first sip, she is knocked out and restrained with beige ties. The next thing we see is Byron’s workers shaving an inch of her head and inserting the chip in. Nothing says romance like inserting a chip in your brain that intrudes your private thoughts, feelings and life. What is privacy anyway?
As “Made For Love” progresses, we see more tidbits of their life and relationship. Sure, there are sweet couple moments, he would plan events for her, going as far as to bring her favorite band to the hub for her, but the rest is haunting — she could never leave and he controlled everything from what she ate to how long she could sleep. As Hazel tries to revamp her life, she has run-ins with old friends and explains the situation, yet Byron is persistent in getting her back. He looks everywhere and he even sends his workers to watch her, yet he can not understand why she would leave him for her old life.
Moreover, Hazel secretly tries to hire a lawyer suggested by her old childhood friend, Bangles (Patti Harrison). However, since Byron is constantly watching through the chip, they have to communicate through their secret language they made as kids (for reference, it sounded a lot like gibberish.) When her father learns of their plan, he helps set up a meeting. All seemed to be falling into place until Byron called him, and he ran out, leaving the audience to interpret what he said. A threat?
Eventually, with the help of Herb, he finds a new solution. His ex-girlfriend turned nun, Judith (Kym Whitley), is on the case as she is known for her detective skills. Her only request is that Hazel does not see her, so Byron does not know what she looks like. She bugs the house to pick up clues. Shortly after, she learns of a requested meeting between the two (Byron and Hazel) and warns Herb. However, during this time, we know of a secret Herb has been hiding, as he explains to Judith.
Herb explains that he knows it, and Judith steps up her game, paying a worker to bug the ketchup at the diner the two met at. The two go back and forth, Hazel wanting the papers signed and Byron begging her to come back. There is a moment when it seems like she may consider it, but she is persistent in this divorce.
It’s not until Byron makes a comment about Herb’s said secret. As Hazel did not know, she brushed it off, claiming it wasn’t true, but Byron seems forever to find a way to get what he wants. He shows her his medical records and tells her if they come back, he could help get him help; still, she is against it.
The following night, Hazel brings it up to Herb, but he denies it. She doesn’t press, but the next thing we see is the house being packed up and Hazel walking back to the hub. It was a lot to take in. The dynamic between the two is odd, but I can’t help but watch.
As the show ends with a cliffhanger, it gives the audience room to predict what’s on what is to come. Will the two stay together? Will Byron change? Is Herb okay? There is so much to unpack, but in the best way possible. As animated as this series is, there is still no news yet on whether or not there will be a season two; however, it is certainly looking promising as showrunner Christina Lee has been teasing the internet with plans for the next season.
“Made For Love” is available to stream on HBO Max.