HBO Just Renewed Its Most Underrated Series

By Mark McKee | 35 seconds ago

HBO rasied by wolves

Audiences are showing that stand-up comedy is anything but dead. With comedy specials finding a new home on Netflix, and Amazon bringing a phenomenon in stand-up fiction in The Marvelous Ms. Maisel, the genre was ripe for a newcomer to thrive. HBO capitalized on that opportunity with their Emmy Award-winning smash Hacks. After two seasons of laughs, Deadline reports the series has been renewed just weeks after the finale of Season 2. 

Hacks premiered in May of 2021. It follows a young and aspiring comedian, Ava Daniels, as she goes to work for Vegas comedy legend Deborah Vance. Daniels stole the screen thanks to being played by the immensely talented real-life comedian Hannah Einbinder. When we meet her, she can’t find work as a comedian due to an insensitive tweet and an arrogant reputation. She eventually lands a job as a head writer for Vance who is played by Jean Smart in an unforgettable performance.

Vance has spent 40 years in comedy, breaking into the male-dominated industry at a young age. She is now a headliner in a permanent residence at the Palmetto Casino in Las Vegas. At the beginning of the series, Vance discovers her weekend dates have been given to younger acts to attract younger audiences. She also learns her ex-husband has passed away. While the two Vance and the younger Ava are similar in their hesitance and arrogance, they soon learn they need each other.

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Hannah Einbinder and Jean Smart on Hacks

At its core, Hacks is more than a comedy delivering witty dialogue and punchy lines for laughs. While it certainly does that, it’s mainly about the bond women create when building careers in industries overrun by men. Smart, who has been working since 1979 (per her IMDB) in everything from Frasier and 24 to feature films alongside Bruce Willis and Steve Martin, seems to bring a performance of personal experience. After 40 years in the industry, she is simultaneously a legend and somehow overlooked, showing a parallel to her real-life career as an actress.

Einbinder is a bonafide newcomer to acting. She admits in an interview with Variety that all she has ever known in the business is COVID. The bond she forms with Vance serves as a reminder and a premonition of what women face in the industry. She isn’t a newcomer to performance, however, as the youngest performer ever on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Einbinder spoke with Variety about her experiences as an openly bi comedian, something she shares with her character.

The parallels with real-life do nothing but enhance the realism of the bond the two main characters build and add depth to a young series that landed well with audiences and critics alike, scoring a perfect 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It landed 15 nominations and brought home three wins, including a long-overdue win in Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series for Smart. 

After Hacks Season 2 saw a 125% rise in viewership from Season 1, it was an easy decision for Universal Television to renew the HBO Max hit for Season 3. President of Universal Television said, “The first two seasons of Hacks — expertly crafted by Lucia, Paul, and Jen —gave us beloved, complex characters who make us laugh and feel deeply. We’re thrilled that our HBO Max partners have renewed this standout series for a third season, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for Deborah, Ava, and the rest of our outstanding ensemble.”