Cristin Milioti has claimed a curiously specific character niche: a woman escaping from a twisted sci-fi trap. In the “Black Mirror” episode “USS Callister,” she was programmed into a simulation by her creepy boss. In last year’s “Palm Springs,” she and Andy Samberg puzzled out how to break free of a time loop that stuck them in a vicious “Groundhog Day” rom-com cycle. In “Made for Love,” a light-handed and dark-minded comedy of technology, control, and gaslighting whose first three episodes arrive Thursday on HBO Max, the snare is all in her head.
As in physically. As in implanted. As in a microchip.
Hazel Green (Milioti) received this unwanted hardware upgrade from her husband, Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen), who runs a world-dominating tech company. (Feel free to play around with the first vowel sound in “Gogol.”) For 10 years, they’ve lived in a gilded cage — or rather a gilded cube, a virtual-reality environment called the Hub, secluded from the messy outside world, with eternally perfect weather and a dolphin sporting in the swimming pool. And for 10 years, Byron has grown more devoted.
Too devoted. “Have your wife review her biometrically recorded orgasms to better optimize them” devoted. Finally, he decides that he loves her — and his technology — so profoundly that he and she will become “Users One” of his new product, Made for Love, which makes couples into two-person neural networks, their brains digitally connected. No more secrets, no more miscommunication, no more private thoughts.