‘Made for Love’ Stars and EPs on Finding the Dark Comedy’s Footing for TV
Anyone that’s tuned into HBO Max’s dark comedy Made for Love would agree that the world Hazel Green (Cristin Milioti), Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen), and more inhabit isn’t quite normal — and this is definitely intentional.
Between Herbert’s (Ray Romano) synthetic partner Diane and Gogol’s crew of subservient workers, it’s a strange place to be. “I think it was this combination of pain and humor,” executive producer Alissa Nutting says of finding the series’ tone.
As the author of the novel upon which the show is based, it’s clear she knows a thing or two about these characters. “We really wanted this juxtaposition, not only between drama and comedy but between the hub and the desert,” she adds of using landscape to help convey the skewed state of this universe.
A woman who wants out of her long-term relationship with husband Byron after he puts a chip in her head — it shares her every thought with him — Hazel is torn between returning to the dull and destitute (and very luxurious) world he plucked her from, or moving on. “She really is figuring that out. So I think that that balance was something that Christina [Lee] and I really intentionally wanted to strike as we were writing,” Nutting adds.
“We wanted to make sure that while we have this sci-fi story, what we’re really focusing on is this emotional journey,” executive producer Lee elaborates. “And it was important for Alissa and I to approach this like a sci-fi show through a female lens.”
As for the characters’ motivations, it’s clear they’re all being haunted by certain demons, whether it’s Byron’s wealthy roots or Hazel’s past family tragedy involving the loss of her mother. “I think all of the characters are sort of surprising in a way because they all have behaviors or make choices that aren’t the best ones and yet you sort of understand all of them,” Lee explains. “And it was important for us in our approach of developing these characters that even when they’re doing bad things that you empathize with them.”
That surely could be the case when it comes to Byron’s employees, Lyle Herringbone (Dan Bakkedahl) and Bennett Hobbs (Caleb Foote), who often do dirty deeds, but who win us over with their humanity (and their humor).
In the season opener, for instance, after Lyle loses some fingers when Hazel hacks them off — she feels cornered and in danger, as he wants to bring her back. home — he jokes, “If you can walk out of this game with your head still intact, that’s pretty good.”
But Bennett’s loyalties and willingness to be a metaphorical punching bag are born more out of admiration, in Foote’s eyes. “Bennett really looks up to Byron and for personal gain can see himself as a potential Byron,” Foote says. “Of course, no one can be Byron, but if Bennett keeps playing this game, eventually Bennett will rise in the ranks.”
All we can hope for is that these characters are careful, because it’s Made for Love has created a wild, wild West of a world.
Made for Love, New Episodes, Thursdays, HBO Max