There are tells when a woman on television has given up. The lipstick will disappear, the clothes will get slightly baggier, frizziness once hidden by professional hairdressers will reappear. Oftentimes, fictional women at their lowest simply look like the real women who inhabit our world. Not Made for Love. Not Hazel Green. In Season 2, Cristin Milioti becomes what every woman was in the depressed depths of the pandemic: a frumpy, pizza-smearing mess. And it’s glorious.
By the time Season 2 begins, Hazel has a million reasons for why she’s abandoned mascara. Made for Love started with Hazel running from her tech billionaire husband after Byron (Billy Magnussen) implemented a tracking device in her brain without her knowledge or consent. She spent most of last season trying to get rid of this device or using it to actively torture her husband when she failed. Right when it seemed that Hazel was on the verge of finally getting what she wanted – a divorce from this decade-long emotionally abusive relationship – Byron dropped one final, manipulative bomb. Hazel’s father, Herbert (Ray Romano), was dying of cancer. And wouldn’t you know it, Byron could save his life but only if Hazel gave their marriage one last chance.
That’s where Hazel is in “I Have a Rotten Finger”: bound to a man she hates so she can save the father she loves. If it were possible for anyone’s closet to say “fuck my husband”, Hazel’s would be it. It’s not just that Hazel looks like a mess. It’s the specific way these outfits reject the male gauze that make them so incredible.
Gone is anything resembling a hairdo or even a hairbrush. Instead, her face is framed by stringy, probably unwashed strands, the rest of it piled atop her head or slung haphazardly to the side using various scrunchies. These aren’t cute scrunchies, by the way. We’re talking about the kind that was gifted to you years ago and now only appears when you’re washing your face or going to an empty gym at 6 am This is a woman who is optimizing her comfort.
Then there is the masterpiece that is Hazel’s wardrobe. Stylish tops are gone, replaced by oversized T-shirts emblazoned with the logos of generic local shops like Woody’s. Flannel shirts are a staple, never because they match Hazel’s current outfit but because they’re less committed than a jacket. And bras? Unless they’re elastic sports bras, forget about them. Shorts and sweatpants are often in the mix, though both look far removed from the perfectly modeled fare we often see on TV. Hazel’s sweats are always a size or two too big, her shorts never fashionable. Even when she has to look more socially presentable, like when she’s trying to convince her dad she’s going to work, every article of clothing looks loose. If Hazel mentioned that her closet came from a garbage bag she found at a yard sale, it wouldn’t be shocking.
It’s funny to see Hazel care so little. Every time she smears a slice of pizza against Byron’s glass house or speaks to him with a mouth full of food, you feel Hazel raising her middle finger. But underneath the nacho cheese dust and sad ponytails, there’s also a powerful argument about the performative elements of femininity.
We’re supposed to notice Hazel’s baggy clothes, unwashed face, and scraggly hair. “We’re Losing Time” dedicates a whole montage to her various crumpled outfits. Yet these scenes aren’t about what Hazel is doing to make herself unappealing to Byron. Instead, they revolve around what she’s not doing – the hours she’s not taking to style her hair and apply makeup; the tight shirts, pants, and dresses most women choose to wear at the expense of their own comfort; and the tiny behavioral shifts she’s not performing to make herself seem more pleasant. It’s a silent rebellion that showscases the endless work that goes into appearing more traditionally, and thereby acceptably, feminine in today’s world.
When real women are at their wit’s end, they don’t lounge around in cute matching pjs with pints of ice cream and effortless makeup. They do what every other person on the planet does: they break out the sweatpants and stop trying. Hazel’s quiet rejection of the work that goes into appearing traditionally feminine is just another reason why Made for Love is one of the coolest shows currently on TV.