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Brokaw: ‘Hacks’ returns for a third season on Max

By Francine Brokaw - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Jun 1, 2024

Image supplied, HBO Max

Season Three of "Hacks" is now streaming on Max.

Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder return for a third season of their hit comedy "Hacks" streaming on Max. "Hacks" is the story of two very different women who, although they have a hard time reconciling with this fact, actually need each other.

Smart is Deborah Vance, a stand-up comedienne, and Einbinder is Ava, a top-notch comedy writer. In the last season, Deborah fired Ava, who then left Las Vegas to be a producer on a show in Los Angeles, leaving Deborah to grow her career with other writers. However, a year after their split, which is when this season begins, Deborah realizes she and Ava had something that cannot be duplicated. So, Ava and Deborah are together again, making comedy while Ava tries to bring Deborah into the new age and Deborah tries to loosen up her intense friend/writer.

In this season, the relationship between Ava and Deborah is more friendly and less combative. Deborah realizes how talented Ava is at her job. With a late-night TV host ready to retire, Deborah sets her sights on that job. Years ago, she had tried for it, but that wish did not come to fruition. The network has never put a woman on late night, which Deborah resents, but she knows she can do the job as well as the men who have previously held that position. Another thing she has to contend with is her age. The network is considering a younger man for the position. But once Deborah decides on something, everyone better get out of her way. She is intent on getting that coveted job.

To raise her image, Deborah takes part in a roast, where she is the one who is the butt of all the jokes. Joining in is her daughter DJ (Kaitlin Olson) with whom she has had a rocky relationship.

Another part of this season involves Deborah reconciling, albeit shakily, with her sister. Christmas is an interesting day at Deborah's house, to put it mildly.

The season is filled with all the characters of the previous two seasons as they maneuver their way through the maze of work, love and life. Ava and her girlfriend, Jimmy and Kayla, Marty and Deborah, Marcus and Deborah, Deborah and the network execs, and more. While some of these are amorous partnerships, most are just tricky business relationships, with Deborah most often deciding the directions in which they work. Will she use her feminine wiles to gain the favor of the head of the network or will she use her skills?

Einbinder explained her character's connection with Deborah: "I think Ava's life, obviously, when we first see her (this season), it's incredibly together. ... But I just think there's always that little missing piece without Deborah."

Einbinder also stated, "There are a lot of lessons about hard work and cutting your teeth that Deborah has imparted upon Ava." And Smart added that Ava has had a big influence on Deborah's life and how she thinks about things in a different way as a result of her relationship with Ava.

The nine episodes in the season are filled with guest stars (which cannot be revealed at this time to not spoil anything for viewers) who add to the fun of the show. But just a reminder: The dialogue is filled with rude and raunchy language. Would the show be just as good without all the trash talk? I believe it would; but nevertheless, this vulgar language is a big part of the characters as they maneuver through the rough world of standup comedy and personal relationships.

The third season debuted May 2 on Max. The series will air two episodes a week with the finale debuting Thursday. "Hacks" does have merit, if viewers can ignore some of the language.

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