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How ‘Made for Love’ Aims to Make You Rethink Love, Technology, and Sex Dolls

Based on the novel of the same name by Alissa Nutting, Made for Love follows the story of Hazel (Cristin Milioti), a woman who marries a tech billionaire and agrees to live in his secret virtual reality base known as The Hub. But it’s the final straw when Byron (Billy Magnussen) implants a chip in her mind designed to unite their thoughts forever.

Hazel escapes Byron’s clutches and seeks solace with her emotionally distant father, Herbert (Ray Romano), and his new girlfriend, a sex doll named Diane.

Decider: The series takes a sharp turn away from the novel, but it does sound and feel the same. How did you manage that balance?

Alissa Nutting: I was so lucky to find Christina [Lee] and have a part of her that is also super into sci-fi and was very into doing a female sci-fi perspective. She is hilarious and likes comedy.

Christina Lee: And I appreciated that Alissa had created these vibrant characters, but she also wanted to expand the world and the adaptation.

What were your guideposts as you were trying to sort out the tone?

Lee: I got to say, we’ve talked a lot about this tricky tone, but it was something that we all found so organically and that Alissa and I would say that we let the actors guide us in that.

I want to talk a bit about the introduction of Bangles, Patti Harrison’s character, who was introduced as Hazel’s (Cristin Milioti) friend before she was married. There was no one like her in the original novel. What factored into the decision to create that character and have an ally for Hazel?

Lee: We wanted a character to show Hazel’s path and could have continued had she not met Byron. This was her best friend growing up, so she represented that life choice. Where would she be today?

Nutting: In terms of their dynamic and interaction, it’s enjoyable to see Hazel transition from The Hub, where she had to have on this mask and act like a specific persona, to then hanging out with Bangles, where you see her at her most emotionally naked, not being defensive.

What I love about the book and this adaptation is that we typically get a lot of narratives about how tech and social media are evil or hurting us. But that’s not exactly the story that Made for Love is telling. It’s just complicated characters who get wrapped up in these wild worlds.

Nutting: It’s so lovely to hear you say that. I, myself, have such a complicated relationship with technology. I think we all do. That’s one of the relatable elements, struggles, and difficulties that we wanted to present the audience with.

Lee: It was so enjoyable to have those discussions about technology as a shortcut to intimacy or human connection before 2020.

Can you elaborate on how the shutdown changed your perspective on the show?

Lee: When we talked about Hazel being in this gilded prison, we talked about how she feels confined. She has all these luxuries. What is it that we’re trying to get to? And then we’re all trapped in it, and we’re like, “I know how that feels.”

Nutting: There’s this whole theme of the difference between what your fantasy is of something and what the reality is of living that like every day.

I wanted to talk about something nitpicky about the book. So the novel devotes much time to Jasper, a swindling womanizer who develops a dolphin fetish. Is he going to make an appearance?

Nutting: We’re hoping for season two. Yeah, we wanted to do his journey justice and had eight episodes.

Speaking of that, were there any other details you had to cut from the book that you were both like, “Oh, I wish I could keep this, but we need to focus on Hazel”?

Lee: I think we could have used some VFX. That would have been ideal. When you’re developing a show, you’re all thinking about who you’re telling this story to.

We don’t see many entries into the sci-fi universe that are so female-oriented. What do you think a female perspective brings to sci-fi that we typically don’t see?

Lee: I talked so much about that because, as avid sci-fi fans, we enjoy watching a lot of movies and TV shows.

Nutting: Yeah, and we wanted in terms of the story and its themes — the central theme of this show is being watched by someone, not only in terms of the male gaze watching you but also in terms of surveillance and technology.


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