Review: Relentlessly Funny 'Hacks' Returns For Season 2

by JC Alvarez

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday May 16, 2022

'Hacks,' Season 2
'Hacks,' Season 2  (Source:HBO Max)

Deborah Vance may be down, but the stand-up comedy legend is getting back to basics and hitting the road, and she's dragging Ava along with her — whether Ava likes it or not! The relentlessly funny hit comedy "Hacks" returns for Season 2, premiering on HBO Max, Thursday, May 12, and starring Emmy Award-Winner Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder.

After losing her long-running Vegas residency at the end of last season, Deborah (Smart) isn't going to let that tumble bring her down — not when she's got Ava (Einbinder) writing her new material. But first, the two have to learn to get along.

Ava didn't end things very well between them — in fact, the comedy writer has really put herself in a terrible predicament! In a moment of weakness and in an effort to lash out at Deborah for not taking a risk on her stand-up outing, Ava has spread some pretty damaging secrets about the comic legend that is about to become part of the storyline of an all-new comedy series. But before Ava can do anything to stop that bridge from burning, Deborah scoops her up and insists the two hit the road on an ambitious multi-city comedy stand-up tour. Deborah isn't pulling any punches, either!

Ava has her agent, Jimmy (the adorable Paul W. Downs), working double duty to stop the hemorrhaging from her major faux pas, but he's got problems of his own in the form of his overtly inappropriate office assistant, Kayla (played by the hilarious Megan Stalter). Jimmy's calling in every favor her can muster, but with his boss' daughter making wild advances on him, he may find himself managing some anger management issues in order to get out of his fix. But in the meantime, Deborah and Ava hit the road, and along for the ride is Laurie Metcalf, playing Alice, tour manager to the stars!

Between the maddening schedule, the incredibly high expectations, and the tight quarters, Ava may be running out the clock until Deborah learns the truth... which she does, and which pus Ava between a rock and a hard place. Ava is between a rock and a hard place, even as Deborah is expecting nothing but her best. And Ava is trying her best to reignite the magic she once had and set her career on fire — or before setting the tour bus on fire with everyone in it. "Hacks" Season 2 has a real hard act to follow, but if anyone can match the excitement of the first season it's Jean Smart and her cast.

"Hacks" stands out among the rest of the pack as one of the most well-written and well-cast series of the last season, and continues to match the creative flow that it hit right out the gate. It has a bite that some may find a bit distasteful, but it has honesty in how it elaborates Ava's journey when she comes into the presence of Deborah, who is a force to be reckoned with. In Ava's hubris she doesn't know how to ideate beyond her own entitlement, and therein lies the kernel of mystery that makes for an extremely enticing meditation in humor.

"Hacks" returns to HBO Max, Thursday, May 12.

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".