There’s been a bevy of female-forward television programs as of late (Betty, Mare of Easttown, The Handmaid’s Tale, Derry Girls, The Morning Show, etc.) and the majority of these shows’ intentions are, to varying degrees of subtlety, to prove that storytelling is changing. Some of these programs are exclusively combatting the patriarchy, but in the case of Derry Girls, there’s a subliminal messaging system rewiring the brains of the viewers to accept the comedy because it’s funny, and not because it matters who’s delivering it (even though the word “girls” is in the frickin’ title - how cool is that?). So, when HBO Max announced its 2021 series, Hacks, starring TV’s It Girl Jean Smart and up-and-comer Hannah Einbinder, they had me at Ha.
In Hacks, as opposed to Derry Girls, it’s extremely important to acknowledge who’s delivering the comedy: in fact, it’s the entire point of the program. Jean Smart stars as Deborah Vance, an aging, yet successful, comic who is being forced out of her Vegas residency due to her waning relevance in the world of Vegas tourism. Her manager, Jimmy (Paul W. Downs from Broad City fame, and also co-creator of Hacks), instructs her to take on a younger comedian as a co-writer to pep up her sets and to help bring her into the millennial stratosphere. That’s where Ava (Hannah Einbinder, daughter of SNL’s Laraine Newman and actor Chad Einbinder) comes in. Ava has just lost her staff writing gig after posting a politically-charged joke on Twitter and was subsequently “canceled.” Deborah doesn’t want a writing partner, Ava doesn’t want to write for an aging “hack”: how’s that for a meet-cute?