HBO’s show Made For Love hasn’t blown up social media like many HBO originals tend to do. Twitter and Instagram haven’t lit up with a surprising appreciation for Ray Romano like it did for Jennifer Coolidge during White Lotus. You probably have yet to hear any coworkers excitedly talking about the season 2 release like they may have for Barry season 3. Even still, Made for Love absolutely deserves your attention.
Made for Love
Based on the Alissa Nutting book of the same title, Made for Love provides a comedic and fresh take on our dystopian present-day. Billionaire tech mogul and boy genius Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen) and his wife Hazel (Cristin Milioti) are in an exceedingly disturbing marriage. Byron believes he can find the secrets to marriage in the same way he perfects his newest tech iterations, with customer surveys (like a post-orgasm questionnaire) and invasive tracking technology. The viewer quickly adapts to Hazel’s experience that these quirky tech traits aren’t a sweet attempt at love, but really a form of abuse.
Season one centers around Hazel’s escape from her abusive relationship and the Gogol corporate headquarters, known as “The Hub”, is put at risk when she discovers the extremes of Byron’s tracking capability. She seeks refuge with her alcoholic father, Herbert (Ray Romano), who has recently begun a relationship with a “synthetic partner,” a sex doll named Dianne. Hazel is now pulled between two absurdities with the simple hope of finding her own independence.
Season two sees Hazel back in the Hub, this time with Herb kept against his will. Byron gets to have a second chance in winning Hazel’s love. This time making a genuine attempt to respect her space. Hazel is certainly not willing to fall for another of Byron’s tricks. Her guilt over holding her own father in a similar prison she dealt with in the first season has her looking to break some of the Hub’s rules. Our characters, and the whole Gogol staff, aren’t yet aware that Byron’s attempt to artificially create love resulted in an artificial intelligence quickly gaining consciousness.
A Binary of Absurdity
The dueling absurdities in Made for Love are a case study on social commentary. Byron Gogol is a robber baron of the technology revolution. He sees breaking the laws of man and nature as a necessary sacrifice for achievement. Herbert is a drunk pervert who dresses up a sex doll and feeds her breakfast. Unlike Ryan Gosling’s loving Lars and the Real Girl, “Herb the perv” doesn’t have the community’s support. Social norms are shattered on both sides of this binary, but I would be surprised if any viewer roots for Byron over Herb.
It cannot be stressed enough that Milioti and Magnussen are excellent in their roles. Magnussen has somehow captured the personalities of every disturbed tech billionaire currently treating our society as their playground. He can be reasoned with and even pitied, but much like Zuckerberg or Musk should never be trusted. Milioti plays the straight character balancing the see-saw of absurdity with a skill I haven’t seen since F. Murray Abraham’s Salieri in Amadeus. The show does suffer from some pacing issues and occasionally forgets a character or plot line. But hey, it was written by a Bama grad, so it at least deserves your attention.