HBO Max’s response to ‘Black Mirror’ is a delight

Any show involving technology gone wrong tends to be tagged as the next black mirror. And that’s not gonna change here with HBO Max made for love.

The dark comedy enters its second season, satirizing cult tech startups trying to improve romantic relationships. It’s a blast of a breeze – episodes are just 30 minutes long, so you never feel like you’re stuck in a comedy-drama hybrid.

Made For Love centers on a tech startup called Gogul – seriously, that’s its name – which has designed a chip to facilitate the ultimate human connection. Called Made For Love, the chip allows one person in the relationship to follow their partner and see everything they see.

How it happens: In Season 1, CEO Byron Gogul (Billy Magnussen) implants a chip in the head of his wife Hazel Green (Cristin Milioti). She ends up almost committing suicide, files for divorce, and demands that the chip be removed immediately.

Ray Romano as Herb holding his sex doll partner.

Ray Romano as Herb and his sex doll partner named Diane.

Photograph by Beth Dubber/HBO Max

The final episode of Season 1 sees Hazel return to Byron, but this time she’s the one taking advantage of him: using his technology to treat her father’s (Ray Romano) cancer.

In Season 2, Hazel, now in relative control of her life, explores the Hub, Gogul’s mysterious facility. The worker minions develop the relationship-enhancing technology there for even more extreme and ill-judged purposes.

Absolutely every character in this show is crazy, unpredictable, and awkwardly charming. Romano’s Herb lives in a trailer (well, in Season 2 it’s a replica of his trailer inside the Hub) with his sex doll wife named Diane. He has few ambitions in life, but his reconnection with Hazel is commendable.

Cristin Milioti, Billy Magnussen and Sarunas J. Jackson looking at a dolphin tank in Made For Love.

Inside the Hub.

Photograph by Beth Dubber/HBO Max

Hazel, meanwhile, secretly drugs Herb so he can be cured without ever finding out that she has agreed to let Byron help them. Hazel and Byron’s twisted relationship – Byron essentially imprisoned and controlled Hazel for 10 years – is getting a fresh start of sorts, but this time Byron wants to know what a healthy relationship really looks like.

The balance of making sure we don’t sympathize with Byron too much is handled competently – he keeps doing bad things to benefit his company – and Milioti plays Hazel with the perfect amount of sarcasm; Hazel spends a lot of time watching Byron and his Gogul “Gamily” (seriously, that’s what they’re called).

Season 2 advances Gogul’s mind-meld technology to cover more concepts involving human consciousness. These ideas (which will not be named to avoid spoilers) have been covered in shows such as Breakup and, yes, Black Mirror – ideas refracted through very different tones.

No one attempted to satirize Made For Love’s goofy thriller. Made For Love was a pleasant surprise when it was released, snappy and sardonic and easy to munch on. Only four Season 2 episodes have been made available for review, but all have made it to the point so far. Plus, this season’s futuristic, labyrinthine settings offer even more intrigue.

An incredibly fun, non-testing take on the horrors of modern technology.

HBO Max releases two Made For Love Season 2 episodes every Thursday (there are eight in total).