- Made For Love -Here's How The 'Made For Love' Book Compares To The The HBO Max Show
If you first heard of Cristin Milioti's TV series Made for Love and thought it was a Black Mirror spinoff, I wouldn't blame you. But you're wrong. The new HBO Max series is based on the 2017 book of the same name written by Alissa Nutting. The Made for Love book shares the general premise with its TV counterpart; as Nutting (who is one of the show's creators) told Variety, the show explores "technology, love, relationship, surveillance, and divorce" — which are the same major themes of her novel. But even with only the first three episodes available as of April 1 (with five more to come), it's already as crystal clear as the fake waters of the Hub that HBO Max's version of Made for Love isn't a direct adaptation. Spoilers ahead for Episodes 1-3 of Made for Love.
But let's start with what's the same.
Although the show plays with the timeline, both versions follow Hazel (Milioti) after she has left her tech millionaire husband of 10 years, Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen), and the tech-created compound they live on, the Hub. She has fled to the home of her father Herbert (Ray Romano), which he shares now with his synthetic partner Diane (Uncredited Sex Doll, who has the honor of her face being molded after the author's, which Nutting revealed to Decider). While Milioti's Hazel figures out rather quickly that her oh-so-subtly-named hubby has placed a chip in her brain that allows him to see everything she does, it takes about halfway into the book for her to find out the truth. At least in the book, Byron has to download her brain feed 24 hours after it occurs rather than have direct access with GPS like he has on the show.
Beyond that, there are lots of other little nods to the source material. Like the fact that Hazel finds some distraction at The Spotted Rose bar when she meets Liver (Augusto Aguilera). He doesn't introduce himself, but the shirtless, beer-making, masturbating bartender is indeed named Liver, according to IMDb. On the Gogol side of things, Byron has an employee named Fiffany (Noma Dumezweni) and wears a sleep helmet — two elements that could come into play in a big way in the Season 1 finale... or whenever the show ends. (Nutting told Decider they're hoping for a Season 2). There's arousal monitoring and there's even a dolphin. Although the show so far has rather smartly decided to skip a character's sexual attraction to these masters of the sea and (in Made for Love's case) pool.
Viewers may eventually learn what happened on Hazel and Byron's first date that turned into their wedding that turned into Hazel never leaving the Hub for a decade. (Well, if all that isn't all the red flags.) But their relationship in the book played out more like 50 Shades of Gray when Hazel interviews Byron in the place of her sick friend after he gives a commencement speech at her college. They have a six-month courtship during which Hazel's mom dies of cancer. On the show, Hazel's mom has already died when she's a child.
The most notable deviation is that there has been no character named Jasper. Beyond Hazel's perspective, there are chapters dedicated to the viewpoint of the dolphin-infatuated, former con artist Jasper. When he's seeking to end his newfound sexual desire through Gogol technology, he crosses paths with Hazel. The end of the book has the two of them together after successfully deactivating the chip in Hazel's head.
There is no character of Jasper listed on IMBd, but the site isn't always the most accurate. But it's possible that Jasper's role will be combined with Liver's. Or that instead of giving Hazel another love interest, the show will stay focused on Hazel discovering what wants out of life. Though with five episodes left (three more will drop on April 8 and the final two on April 15), it's possible a Jasper-inspired figure could emerge. When it comes to new-to-the-show characters, Herringbone (Dan Bakkedahl) never existed to have his fingers axed off. And though she hasn't shown up yet, TV Hazel has a childhood best friend in Patti Harrison's Bangles.
As showrunner Christina Lee told The A.V. Club, Nutting "wanted to expand the world of the book while honoring the characters she created." And since breaking out of the Hub, Milioti's Hazel is poised to explore an expanded world with new characters and revised storylines... just as soon as she can break free from Byron.
Images: John P. Johnson/HBO Max