Hacks Season 1 Analysis

Hacks Season 1 is the first season of a streaming black comedy drama TV series. The series explores a dark mentorship that forms between Deborah Vance (Jean Smart), a legendary Las Vegas comedian, and Ava (Hannah Einbinder), an entitled, outcast 25-year-old writer. Created by Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello and Jen Statsky, Hacks premiered on May 13, 2021 on HBO Max. Analysis follows …

Deborah Vance is a veteran stand-up comedian of almost 2,500 shows at the Palmetto Casino in Las Vegas. However, her longstanding career is at the crossroads as the Casino is seeking to ultimately replace her with younger talents. Ava Daniels is a down on her luck writer, blacklisted due to an ill-advised tweet, and needed to get back on her feet. The odd couple are placed into each other’s orbit thanks to their mutual agent, Jimmy (played by co-creator Paul W Downs). 

Hacks Season 1 Analysis
Photograph by Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max Hannah Einbinder, Jean Smart HBO MAX Hacks Season 1 – Episode 1

It’s fair to state that Hacks Season 1 spends most of its time exploring the relationship between Deborah and Ava. This begins awkwardly (and somewhat reluctantly) as the duo have a generational chasm to overcome, not to mention unlikable personality traits that get on each others’ nerves incessantly. While much of the toxic behaviour between the Deborah and Ava is seldom funny – though it makes for engaging drama – their repartee often is hilarious. 

In terms of characterisation of the two main protagonist, that can be problematic at times, especially in relation to Ava, as her judgemental Gen-Z stereotyping seems a bit too rigid for our liking. Deborah is just downright bitchy throughout which can be two-dimensional as well. However, if one can chalk this off to an initial reveal of inner make-ups then it is fundamentally believable. 

By the end of Hacks Season 1, we get a better sense of who Deborah and Ava really are – on the inside – and certainly there is enough of a bond – without sacrificing the conflict and tension – that could possibly lead to an intriguing second season. HBO Max might very well have a winner here. Recommended. 

Now streaming on HBOMax.

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