Almost exactly a year ago, HBO Max series Made for Love ended its first season with a hell of a twist. Finally, it’s time to see what Hazel’s life is looking like after making the choice to help save her ailing father by reuniting with her toxic husband — a billionaire tech guru who implanted a chip in her brain without her consent, and who she spent all of season one trying to escape.
Truly, it is a bountiful time for fans of sci-fi series about work-in-progress women facing seriously extraordinary circumstances, what with the second seasons of Netflix’s Russian Doll, Amazon’s Undone, and Made for Love all arriving within a week of each other. Based on the novel by Alissa Nutting, who co-showruns season two alongside season one showrunner Christina Lee, Made for Love stars Palm Springs’ Cristin Milioti as Hazel and Billy Magnussen as her husband, Byron Gogol — whose “Google”-ish name is no coincidence, and who prefers never to leave “the Hub,” his top-secret, high-tech fortress, though he made a few trips outside in season one in pursuit of Hazel. At the end of season one, Hazel agreed to Byron’s offer: cutting-edge cancer treatment for her father, Herb (Ray Romano, the standout in an altogether excellent cast), if she came back to the marriage. To that end, Hazel had her father’s entire home (including his companion, Diane, an eerily lifelike sex doll) reconstructed within the Hub, and moved him inside unawares after drugging him (with Byron’s help).
We got a chance to watch Made for Love season two’s first four (of eight) episodes, but we’ll be mostly focusing on the first two episodes, which premiere today. And though we won’t be spoiling any big plot points here, if anyone wants to go in completely unspoiled, here’s your heads-up.
The returning cast also includes Dan Bakkendahl and Noma Dumezweni as Herringbone and Fiffany, exiled Gogol employees who were left stranded in a virtual prison at the end of season one; Caleb Foote as Byron’s fawning assistant, Bennett; and Sarunas J. Jackson as Jay, Hazel’s co-worker from her brief stint working at a bowling alley… who’s actually (surprise!) an FBI agent investigating Gogol. Season two also features Chris Diamantopoulos as Jay’s FBI boss, Angela Lin as Herb’s doctor inside the Hub, and Paula Abdul, who appears in hologram form as a virtual assistant. In case you couldn’t tell from that last bit, Made for Love is wryly hilarious — in addition to being insightful, poignant, and rather intelligent in its satirical-but-not-always approach to exploring just how much technology impacts our lives.
Here are seven lessons we’ve learned from Made for Love season two so far.
If Your Reality Seems Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
“Why does this water taste, uh, delicious?” Herb wonders, marveling at the crystal-clear liquid dispensing from his kitchen sink. “It’s so crisp! It’s like mountain air!” Later, he’s shocked when his formerly sluggish toilet starts flushing with incredible efficiency. (For some reason his truck won’t start, and he’s having trouble keeping track of time… but damn, that water sure is delicious!) What Herb doesn’t realise, of course, is that he’s no longer in the desert backwater of Twin Sands. He’s contained within the Hub, deep underground, receiving medical treatment during his frequent “naps” — and his outdoor environment is completely simulated. But Herb is no dummy, and it doesn’t take long before he starts questioning reality.
Even if Your Husband Removes the Chip He Implanted in Your Brain, He’s Still Not to Be Trusted
Byron appears genuine and sometimes even sweet when he’s interacting with Hazel as he tries to win her back. Early on, he agrees to remove her “Made for Love” chip, along with his. While Hazel is suspicious (she swallows the chips, assuming he won’t actually destroy them), she has no idea he’s secretly made a copy of her consciousness. Why? Well, it’s so that the copy of his consciousness can interact with the copy of Hazel’s consciousness in a stilted, sterile virtual realm where nobody has any genitals — in other words, Byron’s version of heaven. In fact, as we soon learn, that’s what Gogol’s ultimate goal as a company is: creating a virtual afterlife. What could possibly go wrong? Well… keep watching.
Beware of Any Job Interview That Resembles This One
When FBI agent Jay (code name: Jasper) goes for his undercover job interview at the Hub — part of an operation hoping to nab the mega-corp for a variety of crimes, including insurance fraud, false imprisonment, and maybe even murder — he’s subjected to an exceptionally weird line of questioning: “What do you think happens after we die?” “Should technology for a post-human existence be available?” “Do you believe in the potential of a non-physical reality?” “Who was your celebrity crush in high school?” (That last one is how Paula Abdul enters Made for Love’s world.) He’s then asked to sign a litany of forms, including an alarming “end of life agreement.” Even though “Jasper” finds a surprising niche in the Hub as he investigates, you still get the sense that this job is way more dangerous than anything he’d encounter with the FBI in the real world.
Embrace the Slob Within
Even when she (reluctantly) re-enters the Hub and Byron’s life, Hazel holds onto the true self she re-discovered during season one’s return to Twin Sands — partially to keep up the charade for Herb, but also because she’s all out of fucks to give. Gone are her designer duds and tidy styling; instead, she’s more comfortably attired in cutoffs, boots, baggy t-shirts, and messy pony tails. She’s also unafraid to leave the kitchen in her Hub home (filled with the junk food she prefers) a total mess — a serious “fuck you” to Byron, who’s so persnickety we learned in season one that he doesn’t allow smells in the Hub — and has zero filter when it comes to addressing the people in Byron’s orbit.
Learn to Work With What You Have
Trapped in the “Pasture Cube,” the Hub’s most dreaded space, Fiffany and Herringbone are submitted to physical and psychological torture that plays into their deepest fears and regrets. Though these two aren’t pals (for starters, Herringbone’s the reason Fiffany is in there; though she doesn’t realise it as season two starts, that gives you an idea of the dynamic they have), all they have is each other — at least until they figure out a way to escape, which presumably is in the cards before season two ends.
Face Your Fears
Bennett is petrified of Diane, a fact which becomes one of season two’s recurring comedic beats. But he nudges aside his terror to help Herb, proving that even though he’s Byron’s yes-man, he’s still got some decency lurking in his soul.
Fake It Till You Make It
Given the opportunity to leave the Hub to accompany Byron on an important trip, Hazel slips back into her fancy clothes and agreeable persona — but this time, she’s got an ulterior motive hidden behind those giant sunglasses.
Made for Love season two runs for eight episodes. Two episodes premiere tonight, and then two new episodes arrive every Thursday until the finale on May 19.
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