“Toy for Adults” / Made for Love
Genre black comedy, science fiction
Creators Alyssa Nutting, Patrick Somerville
Cast: Christine Milioti (Hazel), Billy Magnussen (Byron), Ray Romano (Herbert), Noma Dumezweni (Fiffany), Dan Bakkedal (Lyle), Patti Harrison (Bennett), Chris Bagnall (Shane), Patti Harrison (Bangles), Nyasha Khatendi (journalist) and others.
Channel HBO Max
Release year 2021
Byron Gogol (played by actor Billy Magnussen) is the man who made technology advance significantly. His company Gogol develops all sorts of means of communication, while the genius himself leads a reclusive, yet ideal way of life. Byron, along with his wife Hazel (played by Christine Milioti, known from the TV series How I Met Your Mother), has not left the technocampus for about 10 years. This is a ground-based building made of virtual reality cubes with its own biosphere, where you can recreate any point in the world without burdening yourself with moving. From the outside, the tech campus looks like heaven on earth, so why would Hazel risk everything to escape her dream home?
In the first episodes of the series, a light thriller is added to science fiction and black comedy, since Hazel’s escape can only be considered half-successful. Once outside the tech campus, Hazel realizes that she is still not free. The fact is that Byron implanted a chip in her head and now he, like a hidden camera, watches every step of his wife. It makes no sense to continue the retreat, but the showrunners hint that this is only the beginning and the beginning of a new path, but for now, Hazel is heading to his hometown, where the heroine’s father lives – the local hermit Herbert (Ray Romano), who asks to show respect for his sex doll, calling her synthetic partner.
The series is based on the contemporary novel Made for Love by Alyssa Nutting. The writer participated in the production of all series, agreeing to changes in the plot of the book. But writer/producer Patrick Somerville helped create a witty, oddball vibe (like the 2018 Maniac series). This time around, the eccentricities appear in a world where dusty, poor, and seemingly stuck in the past, small towns can coexist with a futuristic tech campus. In short, technological progress does not spread everywhere, but only focuses on the isolation of one person with a distorted view of the world, who believes that in the future couples in love will gladly accept the idea of \u200b\u200bbrain synchronization.
Such a darkly ironic look at the worldview of one influential engineer is reminiscent of the concept of the Black Mirror series. It’s funny because co-stars Cristin Milioti and Billy Magnussen starred together in one of the episodes of this anthology (the first episode of the fourth season called USS Callister), and the Made for Love showrunners watched old videos with Elon Musk for inspiration, studying his style communication (something even managed to be reproduced in the third series, where Byron Gogol gives an interview to a journalist inside the technocampus).
However, Made for Love, after briefly introducing the world, doesn’t really focus on the intricacies of technology. The plot gradually approaches the eternal universal themes: the loss of identity in marriage; desire to control your partner; inability to find a common language with loved ones. Closer to the finale, all the characters have the opportunity to speak out, and the story has an important landmark – the resumption of relations with the father of the heroine, in which there was never much warmth.
Of course, Made for Love is an amateur story. The humor here lies in the views of the characters, in the camera angles and in the combination of everyday life with oddities. In some places I want to see even more comical (there are more than enough reasons), somewhere more specifics with important details of the script (Byron’s assistant says that after synchronizing the chips, one of the participants in the experiment may die, but in the end this detail does not play any role ).
Taking into account the fact that the showrunners do not aim for a long series duration (episodes last 25-29 minutes), the series does not have time to get bored. It’s lighthearted and interesting in many ways, thanks to Christine Milioti (who plays fake joy on tech campus and genuine frustration off campus equally well) and Billy Magnussen (who manages to underscore his character’s narcissism in an ironic way).
And the flashbacks add variety to the plot, shedding light on how the main character was held hostage by a person who prefers to live in virtual reality.