Made For Love’s Christina Lee, Alissa Nutting unpack the finale’s poignant cliffhangers

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Saloni Gajjar
·5 min read
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Cristin Milioti and Billy Magnussen in Made For Love
Cristin Milioti and Billy Magnussen in Made For Love

Hazel Green (Cristin Milioti) makes a difficult choice in the closing minutes of the Made For Love season-one finale. She spent the first seven episodes of the HBO Max dramedy trying to flee her controlling tech-billionaire husband, Byron Gogol (Billy Magnussen), who implanted a monitoring chip in her brain without consent. The former couple has a brutally honest confrontation in the finale, titled “Let’s Meet,” and Hazel gets a moment of peace when Byron signs the divorce papers. However, in the end, Hazel chooses to return to Byron’s isolated Hub with her father, Herbert (Ray Romano), to try and cure his pancreatic cancer. “We see it as the ultimate sacrifice,” showrunner and writer Christina Lee tells The A.V. Club. “It’s a story of love, and she chooses her love for her father over her own freedom.”

The central story in the first season wasn’t just about Hazel finding her own agency after escaping her marriage. It was also about her reconnecting with an estranged Herbert, who pulled away from her after her mother died. The emotional distance between them is what pushed Hazel to run away with Byron after just one date a decade ago. “This larger arc of Hazel running away from her hometown and from her past finds a finish line in how she has integrated that healing she’s had with her father and the place she came from,” says writer and executive producer Alissa Nutting, whose 2017 book of the same name is the basis of the series.

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One of the most pivotal scenes in “Let’s Meet” is the one-on-one conversation between Hazel and Byron at a nondescript diner. It sets up the stage for her to openly share her traumatic experiences trapped in this marriage, while Byron uses the opportunity to reveal truths about himself. “There is something so powerful about them facing one another and seeing the table as the dividing space between them,” Nutting says. “So much of the motion in this scene comes through words that are spoken with authenticity as opposed to the more empty exchanges we saw between them previously.”

Billy Magnussen and Cristin Milioti in Made For Love
Billy Magnussen and Cristin Milioti in Made For Love

As their conversation continues, Hazel finds moments of clarity and confidence. She admits to Byron that aspects of their relationship—like how their only sexual contact was when he would pleasure her—meant that she was always vulnerable while he never was. It’s a candid display of how toxic relationships with a power imbalance work in the real world as well. “We talked so much about how, while this show is high-concept and has sci-fi elements, it’s still a familiar story of a woman trying to liberate herself from toxic masculinity. It mirrors a lot of actual relationships,” Lee says. “So we wanted to show the power shift from Byron to Hazel. She goes back to the Hub, but it’s not for him; it’s not a win for him.”

Nutting agrees, adding that this scene could have happened in the technologically advanced Hub but they intentionally chose a rustic, bareboned diner setting. “Not everyone can relate to being a billionaire or someone with a device in their head, but here are just two people doing a postmortem on their relationship. It’s highly relatable. We wanted to ground that emotional ending so it resonates.” she says. Lee adds that they almost approached this final episode like a play. “It’s the big meeting you have after fights or divorces where you just finally get to say whatever you want and show your cards. We loved the way [director] Stephanie Laing shot it so we are able to sink in with those characters,” Lee says.

Magnussen sheds the smarminess of his character in the finale, acing the moment when Byron opens up to Hazel. But even this is just another tactic, according to Nutting. “He knows he has an ace in his pocket with the news of Herbert’s cancer. He thinks he has the upper hand and that false sense of security got him in a vulnerable place for a change,” she says. Both writers share that they wanted to explore the concept of what a second chance means or looks like when someone asks for it. Lee says it’s why Hazel allows him to reintroduce himself to her, including his real name. “I don’t think she expected the truth. She was just testing him and playing with him, but it became more than she expected, and for him, his relief at being honest for a change literally came about in an orgasm.”

Cristin Milioti and Ray Romano in Made For Love
Cristin Milioti and Ray Romano in Made For Love

The Made For Love finale further blurs the line between right and wrong once Byron uses his trump card, revealing Herbert’s diagnosis, because he knows she will choose her father. After “merging” with Hazel’s Made For Love chip, Byron’s watched them reconnect. In her desire to save her father, Hazel moves back into the Hub with him but doesn’t tell Herbert the truth. It sadly mirrors what Byron did to her by inserting the device without permission. “He made the decision on her behalf and chose what to do with her body. She does the same thing to Herbert. It’s for very different reasons but it does bring up a larger conversation about love and boundaries,” Nutting says.

They wanted to keep this discussion going, which explains the open-ended cliffhanger, with Herbert not knowing where he really is. But it also paves the way for a second season. “We have ideas for a season two if we get the chance,” Lee confirms, including an arc for Kym Whitley’s Judiff, who has pertinent recordings that could probably put Byron in jail. “We have big plans for Judiff,” both Lee and Nutting say. Hopefully, a possible second season involves more of this cast (including the synthetic Diane)—and most importantly, a visual representation of Romano reciting yet another unexpected love song.