Would you want to be able to see, think and feel everything the exact same way as your significant other, if technology permitted it? It’s a scary concept that’s hard to imagine, but HBO’s “Made for Love” suggests that it isn’t as far-fetched as it may seem.
The new series is a dark comedy based on Alissa Nutting’s 2017 novel of the same name. We meet Hazel Green (Cristin Milioti, “Palm Springs”) crawling out of a sewage drain in the middle of a dessert. Later we find out she’s married to Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen, “The Bold Type”), a rich, Tony Stark type and CEO of Gogol Tech. After finding out Byron wants to put a chip into her brain to make them feel more “connected,” Hazel attempts to escape but it’s too late. The deed is done. The chip has already been implanted into her head.
Through Hazel’s interactions with her Dad, Herbert (Ray Romano, “Get Shorty”) can be quite funny, the show eventually centers itself on is serious (and sensitive) explorations on the intersections between romantic relationships and the use of mechanical devices. Narcissistic and ruthless, Byron is unafraid to use his money — and the technology it can buy — for his own benefit, even when it’s against Hazel’s will.
At it’s core, “Made for Love” really portrays what it feels like for a woman to be involved in an emotionally abusive relationship, desperately trying to find a way out of the technological control Byron has over her. At the same time, “Made for Love” lets us watch as civilization is exploited and manipulated by technology in the same way Byron manipulates Hazel. Constant status updates and live broadcasts have brainwashed us into thinking we are entitled to know everyone’s next move and private feelings.
The series leaves us rooting for Hazel. There’s a connection with her character that’s hard to ignore. The emotional abuse in her marriage is glaringly obvious within the first 15 minutes of the pilot and if anything, the series may give those who are experiencing the same thing a tip: Run like hell.
The fact that the show is centered around emotional abuse, which often goes overlooked, is significant because it brings to light how these situations can be difficult to escape. Sometimes emotional abuse can be so normalized, it’s difficult to detect and even harder to leave when the love for that person is strong.
Two people in a romantic relationship should already have a way to communicate their thoughts and feelings. “Made for Love” proves that if you need a chip inserted into a significant other, then that connection is not made for love at all.
Daily Arts Writer Jessica Curney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.