The fantastic Cristin Milioti has turn out to be an sudden Queen of excessive idea properties together with her good look on “Black Mirror,” underrated flip in “Palm Springs,” and HBO Max’s newest barely-sci-fi property, “Made for Love,” based mostly on the 2017 e book of the identical title by Alissa Nutting. The brand new collection on the fastest-growing streamer on the market provides Milioti a pleasant platform for her skills, however doesn’t encompass her with sufficient fascinating materials to permit the highlight to shine as brightly because it ought to. After 4 episodes, this verges proper on that line between disappointment and marginal success, and it would pull its problematic components collectively after the preliminary 4. However with so many choices on HBO Max alone, will the viewers stick round?
“Made for Love” begins with an important idea. It examines poisonous masculinity and the way in which tech has divided us as a lot because it’s united us by the story of Hazel (Milioti) and Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen), the latter an Elon Musk-esque tech wizard whose firm builds devices and machines that the world makes use of to make their lives higher. He spends virtually all of his time making an attempt to increase the attain and skill of the corporate he named after himself, Gogol (delicate). He even lives within the Gogol Hub, the tech campus that’s principally an expansive digital actuality simulation. Wish to go to Paris? Snap your fingers, and the world round you’ll make it appear like you’re sitting by the Eiffel Tower. There’s by no means a cause to depart. Which is why Hazel principally hasn’t been allowed to for a decade, ever since her first date with the possessive Byron.
“Made for Love” opens with Hazel escaping the Hub after which circles again to element what lastly despatched her over the sting to flee this tech jail: Byron’s long-promised undertaking that implants a chip within the brains of two companions to allow them to really feel and assume the identical issues on the similar time. As he tells individuals, “Each thought, each feeling, shared,” by no means asking himself what sort of sociopath would ever need that type of invasion of privateness of their alleged beloved one. Byron is the type of poisonous dude who believes that each time his associate isn’t considering of him or doing one thing for him that he’s by some means failing. He even has a tool on which Hazel can assessment her orgasms to verify they’re excellent. Every part has been technologically refined to take away the humanity of it. After which Byron went and made Hazel the check topic for Made for Love, implanting a chip in her mind with out her understanding it. Hazel wants to flee Byron, however the Bezos wannabe can see her each motion and even really feel her feelings. What occurs when ‘Made for Love’ turns into ‘Made for Stalking’?
Hazel’s journey takes her residence to a small city known as Twin Sands, and again into the lifetime of her father Herbert (Ray Romano), who has turn out to be a city outcast as a result of he likes to point out off his new “artificial associate,” an actual doll. It’s proper right here the place it appears like “Made for Love” is about to begin interrogating what partnership means. Its two male leads have very uncommon ideas of partnership, with Byron wanting to regulate every part about his and Herbert not likely caring that his associate actually doesn’t have a thoughts of her personal. However the crew behind “Made for Love” have a irritating behavior of dropping these concepts into their narrative after which not doing a lot with them. A part of the issue might be that the primary 4 episodes—totaling lower than two hours as a result of that is, blessedly, a half-hour present—are required to fill in so many narrative gaps that the thematic exploration stays for the second half of the season. Or the writing simply is probably not up for the problem of digging under the excessive idea.
Fortunately for everybody concerned, Milioti at all times brings her A-game. When “Made for Love” falters, she brings it again, in a position to promote probably the most insane excessive ideas by at all times believably being in and responding to each second. She has to convey quite a bit in these two hours, enjoying each the early days of Byron/Hazel in flashback, her sterile life within the Hub, after which her escape. She nails all of it. “Made for Love” has a darkly humorous streak—which co-star Dan Bakkedahl nails better of all, by the way in which, as a key Gogol worker tasked with getting Hazel again—however Milioti and Magnussen don’t wink on the digicam, which might have destroyed the entire thing. They play this potential future nightmare straight. Whereas one typically needs that the writing round them was smarter and funnier, the actors are positively doing every part they’ll to carry it collectively.
After 4 episodes, “Made for Love” is extra “fascinating” than “entertaining,” and I saved wishing it was extra of the latter given its premise and ensemble. Now that the world of the present has been crammed in, possibly it is going to be that within the again half of the season. In any other case, it is going to be one other authentic streaming present that’s principally made for nobody.
4 episodes screened for assessment.