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Hacks

Comedy, Drama
  • Seasons

    2
  • Tv Network

    HBO Max
  • Premiere

    12/05/2022

Hacks

Hacks, an American comedy-drama television series created by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky that premiered on May 13, 2021, on HBO Max. Overall, the series follows the professional relationship between a young comedy writer and a legendary stand-up comedian. In June 2021, the series renewed for a second season and premiered on May 12, 2022.

Hacks follows the lives of Deborah Vance and Ava. Deborah Vance, a legendary comedian that resides in Las Vegas needs to vamp up her old act in order to stay relevant and keep her spot where she performs. Ava, a young comedy writer whose career is on the line, and desperately needs to find a job.  Ava’s career is now on hold, from posting an insensitive tweet. Nonetheless, the tweet made her look self-centered and arrogant causing a huge loss in work.

Ultimately, Ava’s manager finds her a new job with Deborah as a head writer. So her manager sends her to Las Vegas to work with Deborah and from there they create a bond with each other. Ava slowly starts to push Deborah to try and get her to be a little riskier. On the other hand, Ava has personal problems that she needs to work through and Deborah helps her do that. Hacks has a great storyline of a funny friendship.

The show Hacks overall has good reviews and it has actually received quite a few awards. Some awards acquired are Hollywood Critics Association TV Award, Primetime Emmy Awards, Set Decorators Society of America Television Awards, American Cinema Editors Award, Television Critics Association Awards, Critics Choice Television Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards, GLAAD Media Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Peabody Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards,  and Writers Guild of America Awards.  In the short time Hacks has been released, they have won a ton of awards.

  • Season 1 (2021)

     

    E.1 – “There Is No Line”
    Deborah Vance, a legendary standup comedian with a permanent residency at the Palmetto Casino in Las Vegas, learns that her ex-husband Frank – who left her for her younger sister decades earlier – has died. The day before, Deborah had been informed by Marty, the Palmetto’s CEO, that her weekend tour dates are being given to new acts in an attempt to attract younger audiences. An incensed Deborah calls her manager, Jimmy, who suggests she hire a writer. Though Deborah declines, saying that she writes her own jokes, Jimmy offers the job to Ava Daniels, a struggling writer from Los Angeles who has recently lost a TV deal after making an offensive joke on Twitter. Ava flies to Las Vegas to meet Deborah, who is unaware of her arrival; the meeting quickly turns hostile, with the two women trading barbed yet comedic retorts before Ava leaves, put off by Deborah’s arrogant behavior. However, Deborah, impressed with Ava’s comic ability, hires her.

    E.2 – “Primm”
    When Deborah does not use any of the material Ava has written for her, Ava claims it is difficult to write in Deborah’s voice without knowing her personally. Deborah suggests that the two take a road trip, which Ava learns is only for Deborah to procure an expensive pepper shaker from an antique dealer who hates her; the dealer refuses to sell the shaker unless Deborah apologizes for outbidding him years earlier on an expensive collection, which she refuses to do. On the way home, Deborah’s car suffers a flat tire; she has a friend pick her up in a helicopter, leaving Ava behind. Ava gets a faulty tire replacement and returns to the antique store, where she acquires the pepper shaker by threatening to break one of the other items in the dealer’s shop. Deborah is pleasantly surprised that Ava was able to procure the shaker. She later tasks Ava with digitizing her entire archive, comprising 40 years’ worth of Deborah’s performances.

    E.3 – “A Gig’s a Gig”
    At the opening of a new pizza restaurant, Deborah is asked to do a photo op that references her burning down her ex-husband’s house decades earlier. When Ava tells her it is degrading, Deborah feels insulted, and retaliates by going on a tour bus and publicly making fun of Ava for sending nude photos to her ex-girlfriend. While sorting through Deborah’s archive, Ava opens a package from Deborah’s sister Kathy that she finds in the trash. She discovers old clippings from Deborah’s early career, including a Time cover story regarding her upcoming, but ultimately unaired pilot for a late-night talk show (which would have made Deborah the first female late-night host). Ava finds a tape of the unaired show and laughs at Deborah’s jokes for the first time while watching the video, becoming emotional when a young Deborah thanks her husband and sister for their support. She is unaware that Deborah is eavesdropping on her, before quietly slipping away.

    E.4 – “D’Jewelry”
    After Deborah refuses to pitch her daughter DJ’s jewelry line to QVC, Ava goes with DJ to a trade show and the two bond over their mutual resentment. Ava learns that DJ pays paparazzi to take unflattering photos of her mother to sell, then discovers that Deborah allows it to happen so DJ can earn a living. Deborah and her manager Marcus go to Marty’s daughter’s bat mitzvah, where Deborah tries and fails to convince Marty not to cut her dates. Marty and Deborah drink together and nearly kiss, but Marty’s young girlfriend Ivy walks in. Deborah flatters her into secretly giving her a tour of Marty’s home while taking photos of Marty’s art and possessions. Later, Ava calls her mother to finally come clean about having lost her television deal but hangs up when her mother panics about Ava’s financial stability. Once Ava returns to the hotel, Deborah calls her to ask about her hotel bills, and they end up watching TV together over the phone and making jokes.

    E.5 – “Falling”
    Deborah uses the photos of Marty’s possessions – which he paid for using company funds – to blackmail him into restoring her weekend tour dates. She then spends the night getting drunk at the casino bar rather than working on her comedy material. Ava meets a man, George, with whom she instantly bonds; the two spend the night taking drugs, exploring Las Vegas, and having sex. They also run into Ava’s former writing partners, who inform her no one wants to work with her not because of her offensive tweet, but because she is selfish. George convinces Ava to stop working for Deborah; an intoxicated Ava leaves a voicemail for Deborah announcing she is quitting. The following morning, Ava finds that George committed suicide by jumping from the hotel window; authorities inform her George was escaping elder fraud charges and spent the last of his money in Las Vegas before killing himself. Ava decides to keep her job and frantically rushes to Deborah’s home to apologize for the voicemail but learns that Deborah did not use her phone all night. Deborah has Ava join her for a spa retreat.

    E.6 – “New Eyes”
    While Deborah is unconscious from painkillers she receives for cosmetic surgery at the retreat, Ava attempts to unlock her phone to delete the incriminating voicemail. Ava learns that Deborah’s phone is unlocked via facial recognition; when the camera fails to recognize Deborah due to her swollen, bandaged face, Ava uses Deborah’s wax replica at Madame Tussauds to unlock the phone and delete the voicemail. Upon returning to the spa, Ava takes edibles with Deborah. While high, Deborah admits that Frank fabricated the claim that Deborah burned down his house out of jealousy for cheating on her with Kathy, and that she incorporated the rumor into her comedy routine after the public refused to believe her pleas of innocence. Ava encourages Deborah to update her comedy material by sharing the truth about not just the fire, but who she really is. Ava suffers abdominal pain and winds up in the hospital with a ruptured ovarian cyst. When she awakens, Deborah agrees to slowly make her comedy more reflective of the truth; she and Ava laugh together as Deborah shares other stories.

    E.7 – “Tunnel of Love”
    Ava and Deborah attend DJ’s birthday party, during which DJ announces her engagement to Aidan, a mixed martial artist she recently met. Things go well until dinner, when all of the guests are invited by DJ to make speeches. After toasting her daughter and admitting her regret over how their relationship has deteriorated, Deborah insists that she sign a prenuptial agreement. DJ refuses, and her mother proceeds to loudly embarrass her in front of all the attending guests. Ava privately consoles DJ by suggesting that she make decisions for herself rather than for her mother’s approval. In response, DJ decides to marry Aidan that night, and has Ava drive them to a drive-through chapel to perform the ceremony inside the car. Ava broadcasts the ceremony on her phone so Deborah can witness it. Marty and Deborah dance and share drinks at her house, which results in the two of them having sex.

    E.8 – “1.69 Million”
    The morning after sleeping with her, Marty informs Deborah that her residency at the Palmetto is being terminated. An enraged Deborah enlists Ava’s help in planning an impromptu show at a local comedy club so they can workshop new material. At the club – which has hosted Deborah since the beginning of her career – Ava is dismayed to learn that its late former owner, Ira, was known for sexually harassing female comics with impunity. When Ava asks Deborah why she never reported the harassment, Deborah is offended at the idea that she did not do enough for female comics in the industry. However, Deborah then notices the club’s current owner, Drew, making inappropriate sexual comments towards her warm-up act. During her set, she condemns Drew onstage and offers him $1.69 million if he promises to leave the industry for good. Drew accepts, leading to cheers and applause from the crowd. Ava gets a call from Kayla, Jimmy’s assistant at the talent agency, who tells her she has landed Ava a lucrative interview with a high-profile British production company in Los Angeles.

    E.9 – “Interview”
    In the middle of planning Deborah’s final show at the Palmetto, Ava leaves to go to her interview with the producers in Los Angeles, lying to Deborah that she has a doctor’s appointment. While there, she reconnects with her ex-girlfriend. Marcus finds out through Ava’s sublet tenant the real reason why Ava is in Los Angeles; already envious of Ava’s relationship with Deborah, he calls Jimmy and lies that Deborah knows about this and is angry with Ava. Jimmy calls Deborah to apologize, inadvertently revealing to her Ava’s deception. Ava impresses the two producers interviewing her and is hired on the spot. However, she rejects the offer after learning that the producers want to create a show about a “crazy” woman and are only interested in Ava because they want her to share slanderous stories about Deborah as material. Upon returning to Las Vegas, Ava learns that Deborah cancelled her pre-show, leaving no time to rehearse her performance.

    E.10 – “I Think She Will”
    While preparing for her final show, Deborah confronts Ava over taking the Los Angeles interview and says she is eschewing the new material in favor of her usual routine. The two argue; when Deborah slaps Ava for calling her a “hack”, Ava quits her job. Ava later calls Kayla asking for the email address of the producers she met with in Los Angeles so she can sell them information on Deborah. Deborah promotes Marcus to CEO of her business. Before going onstage, she unwraps a gift Ava left for her: a framed magazine cover titled “Will Deborah Vance Make History?” with a handwritten note from Ava reading “I think she will.” Moved by the gesture, Deborah decides to perform the new material onstage. Ava, meanwhile, flies to her parents’ home in Boston for her father Dennis’s funeral. Deborah suddenly appears and livens up the eulogy with humor, helping the guests reminisce about Dennis. Later, back at home, Ava apologizes to Deborah, who informs her that although her final Las Vegas show was a failure, she sees potential in the material and wants to go on tour with Ava to improve it. Ava happily accepts, but receives a call from Jimmy while boarding her flight asking why she sent an email slandering Deborah to the production company.

    Season 2 (2022)

    E.1 – “There Will Be Blood”
    Deborah and Ava return to Las Vegas, with Deborah feeling excited to start fresh after her last show was considered a flop. Ava, however, is racked with guilt after getting confirmation that her nasty email about Deborah was received by the British writers. Jimmy begs Ava to not say anything, fearing Deborah’s wrath if she found out. Ava also receives half of her father’s ashes in a tennis ball holder. Jimmy and Kayla meet with HR manager Barbara after the hotel room incident during their Las Vegas trip to Deborah’s final show. The higher-ups (which include Kayla’s father) dismiss the complaint, but Barbara coyly suggests that she report Jimmy for “anger issues” so Barbara can move Kayla to a new assignment. Deborah and Ava attend an MMA fight at the Palmetto to support Aiden, DJ’s husband. Deborah is speechless when she bumps into Marty at the event with his new, age-appropriate girlfriend. Deborah starts her road trip immediately after the fight.

    E.2 – “Quid Pro Quo”
    Ava is unnerved by Deborah’s generosity during their road trip. Jimmy attempts to bury Ava’s email by meeting Janet Stone, the talent agent who manages the British writers. The meeting backfires and Janet even threatens to send the email to TMZ. A desperate Jimmy turns to Kayla’s father for help, but only if he takes back Kayla as his assistant. Jimmy accepts, losing his new effective assistant and still committed to taking the year-long anger management program. Deborah takes Ava to see her psychic in Sedona, and the psychic predicts a cosmic wrecking ball heading Deborah’s way, which Deborah interprets as her new material taking the world by storm. Unable to hold in the truth any longer, Ava confesses to Deborah about her email that the British writers plan to use in their show. Deborah becomes enraged when she learns Helen Mirren will be the show’s leading actress, essentially confirming that the show will make it to air. The misery is compounded when Deborah demands Ava to read the email to her, which includes scathing remarks about Deborah as a person and a mother. Despite everything, Deborah does not fire Ava, but Ava receives a call from Jimmy that Deborah is suing her for breaking her NDA.

    E.3 – “Trust the Process”
    Deborah and Ava officially start their tour and meet their new eccentric tour manager, who insists on being called “Weed”. Deborah gives Ava the cold shoulder after the revelation in the previous episode, and Deborah’s material still fails to land with audiences. Marcus continues to miss Wilson and buys a new puppy to help with the loneliness. Weed unwittingly throws out Ava’s tennis ball canister (with her father’s ashes in them), mistaking it for trash. Deborah forces Weed to turn the bus around so Ava can find them, missing a sold-out Oklahoma City show in the process. Ava thanks Deborah for her act of kindness, and resolves to spread the ashes around the country after talking with Ray.

    E.4 – “The Captain’s Wife”
    Ava is apprehensive about joining Deborah on a gay cruise, fearing the water and being unable to swim. Deborah is excited about the cruise gig and plans to use her original routines. However, Deborah is thrown for a loop when she discovers Marcus accidentally booked the gig on a cruise that is exclusively for lesbians, who do not “get” her material. She is more rattled when she receives a FaceTime call from Marty, which ends up being a pocket-dial accident. Ava enjoys her newfound popularity on the cruise and helps Deborah adapt to her new surroundings. Deborah’s show starts off on the right note, but she blows it when she picks on an audience member and makes one blunder after another. Deborah is asked to leave the cruise via a dinghy, taking Ava with her. A lonely Marcus continues to flounder, pushing his mother away and clubbing all night. He runs into Wilson while high on MDMA and proclaims his love for him. He returns home to find his puppy has consumed some of his Adderall, and immediately takes him to the veterinarian. The vet refuses to return the dog to Marcus who’s clearly under the influence and has his mother come to claim the dog. Deborah calls Marcus following her boot from the cruise and, sensing Marcus’ strife, asks him to replace Weed as the tour manager.

    E.5 – “Retired”
    Marcus joins Deborah, Ava, and Damien on the tour, and they make a pit stop at a mall prior to their gig at a county fair. Deborah learns her signature perfume is being discontinued at the mall’s Lord & Taylor, so she proceeds to clear out their entire beauty counter. There, Deborah bumps into an old friend named Susan, who works in the store’s shoe department. Deborah is surprised at how happy Susan is with her life, despite failing to make it as a comic. Deborah later confesses to Ava that she sabotaged Susan’s career out of fear for her own. Deborah comes clean to Susan at the fair, but Susan tells her she stopped performing because she didn’t want to sacrifice her future family for a showbiz career. Ava and Marcus find solace in each other when they come to terms with the fact, they have nothing in their lives going on besides helping Deborah. After a tender heart-to-heart moment about the past, Deborah teaches Ava how to float.

    E.6 – “The Click”

    After bombing another performance, Deborah flies Kiki out to Memphis in an attempt to break the cycle. Ava’s mother Nina also shows up in Memphis, and an unnerved Ava struggles to deal with her mother’s views about their past. Deborah and Ava finally make a breakthrough after Deborah has a one night stand, and they include more self-deprecating humor into Deborah’s new material. The new shows end up being much more successful, with one audience even giving Deborah a standing ovation. Ava, however, is unsuccessful in improving her relationship with Nina, who has a massive meltdown when she learns about Deborah’s lawsuit. Ava lies about having a pro bono lawyer to deal with the litigation, and she tells her mom that she’s proud of her for trying to move on with her life.

Season 1 (2021)

E.1 – “There Is No Line”
Deborah Vance, a legendary standup comedian with a permanent residency at the Palmetto Casino in Las Vegas, learns that her ex-husband Frank – who left her for her younger sister decades earlier – has died. The day before, Deborah had been informed by Marty, the Palmetto’s CEO, that her weekend tour dates are being given to new acts in an attempt to attract younger audiences. An incensed Deborah calls her manager, Jimmy, who suggests she hire a writer. Though Deborah declines, saying that she writes her own jokes, Jimmy offers the job to Ava Daniels, a struggling writer from Los Angeles who has recently lost a TV deal after making an offensive joke on Twitter. Ava flies to Las Vegas to meet Deborah, who is unaware of her arrival; the meeting quickly turns hostile, with the two women trading barbed yet comedic retorts before Ava leaves, put off by Deborah’s arrogant behavior. However, Deborah, impressed with Ava’s comic ability, hires her.

E.2 – “Primm”
When Deborah does not use any of the material Ava has written for her, Ava claims it is difficult to write in Deborah’s voice without knowing her personally. Deborah suggests that the two take a road trip, which Ava learns is only for Deborah to procure an expensive pepper shaker from an antique dealer who hates her; the dealer refuses to sell the shaker unless Deborah apologizes for outbidding him years earlier on an expensive collection, which she refuses to do. On the way home, Deborah’s car suffers a flat tire; she has a friend pick her up in a helicopter, leaving Ava behind. Ava gets a faulty tire replacement and returns to the antique store, where she acquires the pepper shaker by threatening to break one of the other items in the dealer’s shop. Deborah is pleasantly surprised that Ava was able to procure the shaker. She later tasks Ava with digitizing her entire archive, comprising 40 years’ worth of Deborah’s performances.

E.3 – “A Gig’s a Gig”
At the opening of a new pizza restaurant, Deborah is asked to do a photo op that references her burning down her ex-husband’s house decades earlier. When Ava tells her it is degrading, Deborah feels insulted, and retaliates by going on a tour bus and publicly making fun of Ava for sending nude photos to her ex-girlfriend. While sorting through Deborah’s archive, Ava opens a package from Deborah’s sister Kathy that she finds in the trash. She discovers old clippings from Deborah’s early career, including a Time cover story regarding her upcoming, but ultimately unaired pilot for a late-night talk show (which would have made Deborah the first female late-night host). Ava finds a tape of the unaired show and laughs at Deborah’s jokes for the first time while watching the video, becoming emotional when a young Deborah thanks her husband and sister for their support. She is unaware that Deborah is eavesdropping on her, before quietly slipping away.

E.4 – “D’Jewelry”
After Deborah refuses to pitch her daughter DJ’s jewelry line to QVC, Ava goes with DJ to a trade show and the two bond over their mutual resentment. Ava learns that DJ pays paparazzi to take unflattering photos of her mother to sell, then discovers that Deborah allows it to happen so DJ can earn a living. Deborah and her manager Marcus go to Marty’s daughter’s bat mitzvah, where Deborah tries and fails to convince Marty not to cut her dates. Marty and Deborah drink together and nearly kiss, but Marty’s young girlfriend Ivy walks in. Deborah flatters her into secretly giving her a tour of Marty’s home while taking photos of Marty’s art and possessions. Later, Ava calls her mother to finally come clean about having lost her television deal but hangs up when her mother panics about Ava’s financial stability. Once Ava returns to the hotel, Deborah calls her to ask about her hotel bills, and they end up watching TV together over the phone and making jokes.

E.5 – “Falling”
Deborah uses the photos of Marty’s possessions – which he paid for using company funds – to blackmail him into restoring her weekend tour dates. She then spends the night getting drunk at the casino bar rather than working on her comedy material. Ava meets a man, George, with whom she instantly bonds; the two spend the night taking drugs, exploring Las Vegas, and having sex. They also run into Ava’s former writing partners, who inform her no one wants to work with her not because of her offensive tweet, but because she is selfish. George convinces Ava to stop working for Deborah; an intoxicated Ava leaves a voicemail for Deborah announcing she is quitting. The following morning, Ava finds that George committed suicide by jumping from the hotel window; authorities inform her George was escaping elder fraud charges and spent the last of his money in Las Vegas before killing himself. Ava decides to keep her job and frantically rushes to Deborah’s home to apologize for the voicemail but learns that Deborah did not use her phone all night. Deborah has Ava join her for a spa retreat.

E.6 – “New Eyes”
While Deborah is unconscious from painkillers she receives for cosmetic surgery at the retreat, Ava attempts to unlock her phone to delete the incriminating voicemail. Ava learns that Deborah’s phone is unlocked via facial recognition; when the camera fails to recognize Deborah due to her swollen, bandaged face, Ava uses Deborah’s wax replica at Madame Tussauds to unlock the phone and delete the voicemail. Upon returning to the spa, Ava takes edibles with Deborah. While high, Deborah admits that Frank fabricated the claim that Deborah burned down his house out of jealousy for cheating on her with Kathy, and that she incorporated the rumor into her comedy routine after the public refused to believe her pleas of innocence. Ava encourages Deborah to update her comedy material by sharing the truth about not just the fire, but who she really is. Ava suffers abdominal pain and winds up in the hospital with a ruptured ovarian cyst. When she awakens, Deborah agrees to slowly make her comedy more reflective of the truth; she and Ava laugh together as Deborah shares other stories.

E.7 – “Tunnel of Love”
Ava and Deborah attend DJ’s birthday party, during which DJ announces her engagement to Aidan, a mixed martial artist she recently met. Things go well until dinner, when all of the guests are invited by DJ to make speeches. After toasting her daughter and admitting her regret over how their relationship has deteriorated, Deborah insists that she sign a prenuptial agreement. DJ refuses, and her mother proceeds to loudly embarrass her in front of all the attending guests. Ava privately consoles DJ by suggesting that she make decisions for herself rather than for her mother’s approval. In response, DJ decides to marry Aidan that night, and has Ava drive them to a drive-through chapel to perform the ceremony inside the car. Ava broadcasts the ceremony on her phone so Deborah can witness it. Marty and Deborah dance and share drinks at her house, which results in the two of them having sex.

E.8 – “1.69 Million”
The morning after sleeping with her, Marty informs Deborah that her residency at the Palmetto is being terminated. An enraged Deborah enlists Ava’s help in planning an impromptu show at a local comedy club so they can workshop new material. At the club – which has hosted Deborah since the beginning of her career – Ava is dismayed to learn that its late former owner, Ira, was known for sexually harassing female comics with impunity. When Ava asks Deborah why she never reported the harassment, Deborah is offended at the idea that she did not do enough for female comics in the industry. However, Deborah then notices the club’s current owner, Drew, making inappropriate sexual comments towards her warm-up act. During her set, she condemns Drew onstage and offers him $1.69 million if he promises to leave the industry for good. Drew accepts, leading to cheers and applause from the crowd. Ava gets a call from Kayla, Jimmy’s assistant at the talent agency, who tells her she has landed Ava a lucrative interview with a high-profile British production company in Los Angeles.

E.9 – “Interview”
In the middle of planning Deborah’s final show at the Palmetto, Ava leaves to go to her interview with the producers in Los Angeles, lying to Deborah that she has a doctor’s appointment. While there, she reconnects with her ex-girlfriend. Marcus finds out through Ava’s sublet tenant the real reason why Ava is in Los Angeles; already envious of Ava’s relationship with Deborah, he calls Jimmy and lies that Deborah knows about this and is angry with Ava. Jimmy calls Deborah to apologize, inadvertently revealing to her Ava’s deception. Ava impresses the two producers interviewing her and is hired on the spot. However, she rejects the offer after learning that the producers want to create a show about a “crazy” woman and are only interested in Ava because they want her to share slanderous stories about Deborah as material. Upon returning to Las Vegas, Ava learns that Deborah cancelled her pre-show, leaving no time to rehearse her performance.

E.10 – “I Think She Will”
While preparing for her final show, Deborah confronts Ava over taking the Los Angeles interview and says she is eschewing the new material in favor of her usual routine. The two argue; when Deborah slaps Ava for calling her a “hack”, Ava quits her job. Ava later calls Kayla asking for the email address of the producers she met with in Los Angeles so she can sell them information on Deborah. Deborah promotes Marcus to CEO of her business. Before going onstage, she unwraps a gift Ava left for her: a framed magazine cover titled “Will Deborah Vance Make History?” with a handwritten note from Ava reading “I think she will.” Moved by the gesture, Deborah decides to perform the new material onstage. Ava, meanwhile, flies to her parents’ home in Boston for her father Dennis’s funeral. Deborah suddenly appears and livens up the eulogy with humor, helping the guests reminisce about Dennis. Later, back at home, Ava apologizes to Deborah, who informs her that although her final Las Vegas show was a failure, she sees potential in the material and wants to go on tour with Ava to improve it. Ava happily accepts, but receives a call from Jimmy while boarding her flight asking why she sent an email slandering Deborah to the production company.

Season 2 (2022)

E.1 – “There Will Be Blood”
Deborah and Ava return to Las Vegas, with Deborah feeling excited to start fresh after her last show was considered a flop. Ava, however, is racked with guilt after getting confirmation that her nasty email about Deborah was received by the British writers. Jimmy begs Ava to not say anything, fearing Deborah’s wrath if she found out. Ava also receives half of her father’s ashes in a tennis ball holder. Jimmy and Kayla meet with HR manager Barbara after the hotel room incident during their Las Vegas trip to Deborah’s final show. The higher-ups (which include Kayla’s father) dismiss the complaint, but Barbara coyly suggests that she report Jimmy for “anger issues” so Barbara can move Kayla to a new assignment. Deborah and Ava attend an MMA fight at the Palmetto to support Aiden, DJ’s husband. Deborah is speechless when she bumps into Marty at the event with his new, age-appropriate girlfriend. Deborah starts her road trip immediately after the fight.

E.2 – “Quid Pro Quo”
Ava is unnerved by Deborah’s generosity during their road trip. Jimmy attempts to bury Ava’s email by meeting Janet Stone, the talent agent who manages the British writers. The meeting backfires and Janet even threatens to send the email to TMZ. A desperate Jimmy turns to Kayla’s father for help, but only if he takes back Kayla as his assistant. Jimmy accepts, losing his new effective assistant and still committed to taking the year-long anger management program. Deborah takes Ava to see her psychic in Sedona, and the psychic predicts a cosmic wrecking ball heading Deborah’s way, which Deborah interprets as her new material taking the world by storm. Unable to hold in the truth any longer, Ava confesses to Deborah about her email that the British writers plan to use in their show. Deborah becomes enraged when she learns Helen Mirren will be the show’s leading actress, essentially confirming that the show will make it to air. The misery is compounded when Deborah demands Ava to read the email to her, which includes scathing remarks about Deborah as a person and a mother. Despite everything, Deborah does not fire Ava, but Ava receives a call from Jimmy that Deborah is suing her for breaking her NDA.

E.3 – “Trust the Process”
Deborah and Ava officially start their tour and meet their new eccentric tour manager, who insists on being called “Weed”. Deborah gives Ava the cold shoulder after the revelation in the previous episode, and Deborah’s material still fails to land with audiences. Marcus continues to miss Wilson and buys a new puppy to help with the loneliness. Weed unwittingly throws out Ava’s tennis ball canister (with her father’s ashes in them), mistaking it for trash. Deborah forces Weed to turn the bus around so Ava can find them, missing a sold-out Oklahoma City show in the process. Ava thanks Deborah for her act of kindness, and resolves to spread the ashes around the country after talking with Ray.

E.4 – “The Captain’s Wife”
Ava is apprehensive about joining Deborah on a gay cruise, fearing the water and being unable to swim. Deborah is excited about the cruise gig and plans to use her original routines. However, Deborah is thrown for a loop when she discovers Marcus accidentally booked the gig on a cruise that is exclusively for lesbians, who do not “get” her material. She is more rattled when she receives a FaceTime call from Marty, which ends up being a pocket-dial accident. Ava enjoys her newfound popularity on the cruise and helps Deborah adapt to her new surroundings. Deborah’s show starts off on the right note, but she blows it when she picks on an audience member and makes one blunder after another. Deborah is asked to leave the cruise via a dinghy, taking Ava with her. A lonely Marcus continues to flounder, pushing his mother away and clubbing all night. He runs into Wilson while high on MDMA and proclaims his love for him. He returns home to find his puppy has consumed some of his Adderall, and immediately takes him to the veterinarian. The vet refuses to return the dog to Marcus who’s clearly under the influence and has his mother come to claim the dog. Deborah calls Marcus following her boot from the cruise and, sensing Marcus’ strife, asks him to replace Weed as the tour manager.

E.5 – “Retired”
Marcus joins Deborah, Ava, and Damien on the tour, and they make a pit stop at a mall prior to their gig at a county fair. Deborah learns her signature perfume is being discontinued at the mall’s Lord & Taylor, so she proceeds to clear out their entire beauty counter. There, Deborah bumps into an old friend named Susan, who works in the store’s shoe department. Deborah is surprised at how happy Susan is with her life, despite failing to make it as a comic. Deborah later confesses to Ava that she sabotaged Susan’s career out of fear for her own. Deborah comes clean to Susan at the fair, but Susan tells her she stopped performing because she didn’t want to sacrifice her future family for a showbiz career. Ava and Marcus find solace in each other when they come to terms with the fact, they have nothing in their lives going on besides helping Deborah. After a tender heart-to-heart moment about the past, Deborah teaches Ava how to float.

E.6 – “The Click”

After bombing another performance, Deborah flies Kiki out to Memphis in an attempt to break the cycle. Ava’s mother Nina also shows up in Memphis, and an unnerved Ava struggles to deal with her mother’s views about their past. Deborah and Ava finally make a breakthrough after Deborah has a one night stand, and they include more self-deprecating humor into Deborah’s new material. The new shows end up being much more successful, with one audience even giving Deborah a standing ovation. Ava, however, is unsuccessful in improving her relationship with Nina, who has a massive meltdown when she learns about Deborah’s lawsuit. Ava lies about having a pro bono lawyer to deal with the litigation, and she tells her mom that she’s proud of her for trying to move on with her life.

 

Critical response
The first season received critical acclaim. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported a “Certified Fresh” approval rating of 100% based on 68 critic reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The website’s critics consensus states, “A prickling debut that pulls few punches, Hacks deftly balances its sharp critiques of the comedy world with more intimate moments, all the while giving the incomparable Jean Smart a role worthy of her talents – and an excellent partner in Hannah Einbinder.” Metacritic calculated a weighted average score of 82 out of 100 based on 24 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”.

The second season has also received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes it also received “Certified Fresh” approval rating of 100% based on 40 critic reviews, with an average rating of 8.6/10. The website’s critics consensus states, “Hacks hits the road, but Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder remain very much at home with each other in a sterling sophomore season that finds novel ways to deepen the central pair’s lovable friendship.”On Metacritic, it received a score of 88 out of 100 based on 22 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”.

Main

Jean Smart as Deborah Vance, a legendary Las Vegas stand-up comedian
Hannah Einbinder as Ava Daniels, a down-on-her-luck comedy writer
Carl Clemons-Hopkins as Marcus, COO of Deborah’s management company and her closest advisor

Recurring
Rose Abdoo as Josefina, Deborah’s estate manager
Christopher McDonald as Marty Ghilain, CEO of the Palmetto Casino
Paul W. Downs as Jimmy LuSaque, Deborah and Ava’s manager
Mark Indelicato as Damien, Deborah’s personal assistant
Megan Stalter as Kayla, the airhead daughter of Jimmy’s boss who works as his assistant
Poppy Liu as Kiki, Deborah’s personal blackjack dealer
Kaitlin Olson as Deborah “DJ” Vance Jr., Deborah’s estranged daughter
Johnny Sibilly as Wilson, a water inspector who gets entangled with Marcus
Angela Elayne Gibbs as Robin, Marcus’ mother
Jane Adams as Nina, Ava’s mother
Joe Mande as Ray, a hotel clerk for the Palmetto
Lauren Weedman as Madam Mayor Pezzimenti, mayor of Las Vegas
Lorenza Izzo as Ruby, Ava’s ex-girlfriend
Luenell as Miss Loretta, Robin’s girlfriend

Guest
Jefferson Mays as T.L. Gurley, an antique dealer who holds a grudge against Deborah
Brent Sexton (season 1) and W. Earl Brown (season 2) as Michael, Jimmy’s boss and Kayla’s father
Jeff Ward as George, a man Ava meets and bonds with
Louis Herthum as Dennis, Ava’s father
Anna Maria Horsford as Francine, a veteran comedian who is an old friend of Deborah
Linda Purl as Kathy Vance, Deborah’s estranged sister
Chris Geere and Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Jesse and Daisy, two British TV producers who interview Ava
Martha Kelly as Barbara, a human resources representative (season 2)
Ming-Na Wen as Janet Stone, a talent agent and Jimmy’s rival (season 2)
Laurie Metcalf as “Weed”, an eccentric tour manager (season 2)
Wayne Newton as himself (season 2)
Margaret Cho as herself (season 2)
Harriet Harris as Susan, an old friend of Deborah (season 2)
Susie Essman as Elaine Carter, a director and an old friend of Deborah (season 2)
Devon Sawa as Jason (season 2)

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