‘Hacks’ Star Jean Smart & Showrunners on Deborah’s Latest ‘Power Move’ in Season 2

Hacks - Season 2 - Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder
Spoiler Alert
Karen Ballard/HBO Max

[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2 of Hacks, “There Will Be Blood” & “Quid Pro Quo.”]

Hacks is back and with it the comedy genius of stars like Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder, as well as an award-winning creative team that includes co-creators, writers, and co-showrunners, Lucia Aniello and Jen Statsky.

The series doesn’t miss a beat from the moment we last saw Las Vegas comedian Deborah (Smart) and her young writer Ava (Einbinder). Season 2 also doesn’t take long to address one of the show’s biggest Season 1 cliffhangers. As viewers will recall, Ava had sent a strongly-worded email conveying her feelings about Deborah to some Hollywood big-wigs that could use it in a negative way.

When Deborah and Ava’s agent Jimmy (Paul W. Downs) calls to inform Ava that this could spell trouble for her, the metaphorical sword is left hanging above her head. In Season 2, it crashes down by Episode 2, in which the guilt eats away at Ava to the point where she directly confesses to Deborah that she said some pretty horrible things about her.

Hacks Season 2 Hannah Einbinder Jean Smart

(Credit: Karen Ballard/HBO Max)

As to be expected, Deborah isn’t too pleased as she begins chucking gemstones and crystals at Ava while they peruse a roadside shop. After forcing Ava to read the incriminating email over dinner, Deborah gives her the silent treatment until the next morning when she claims she’s decided to let it go, adding that Ava’s too good of a writer to let her go.

Thankful beyond belief, Ava relaxes in the passenger seat of Deborah’s car as they travel for her comedy tour. But the relaxation doesn’t last long when Jimmy calls Ava to inform her that Deborah’s suing her for breaking her NDA. The revelation certainly sets up a tone for the remainder of the season, but why share the reveal so early on?

“We wanted it to be revealed at some point early in the season, but not immediately,” explains Aniello. “It also is not just something that is revealed and then that’s the end of it. I think what it’s done is really opened up some new lanes for them in terms of their relationship development,” she adds.

Hacks Season 2 Jean Smart Hannah Einbinder

(Credit: Karen Ballard/HBO Max)

Smart echoes Aniello’s thoughts on Deborah following Ava’s harsh reveal. “I think it was extremely painful for Deborah, ” the actress says of hearing Ava’s email. “It’s interesting because she doesn’t forgive her husband or her sister. She can hold a grudge longer than anybody in the world, but she does have the ability to, when push comes to shove, realize that she maybe deserved some of that.”

“And so she can forgive,” Smart points out, “but we find out she didn’t completely forgive her because she’s going to continue to torture her throughout the show for a while.” What might that torture look like? Considering that Deborah’s a relatively creative tormenter, the possibilities are endless.

“It makes Deborah realize how similar they are, for better or worse,” Aniello says, noting Deborah’s realization that she and Ava are more similar than she could have predicted. “That’s something in terms of self-reflection and self-awareness that really impacts the rest of Deborah’s season and the show that she’s workshopping.”

As for how serious the lawsuit Deborah has raised against Ava, Aniello adds, “That’s also something that plays on multiple levels. On one hand, Deborah is teaching Ava a lesson, you signed an NDA, and then you violated it. So there are repercussions to that. And also it’s a way for her to say, ‘I have this over you at all times.’ And so it’s a little bit of a power move.”

Even with some of the less nice things Deborah can do, Statsky points out, “Deborah is a comedian at heart and she knows how funny it is to see someone that works for you and is with you on a daily basis [while you’re suing them]. So that’s also, I think part of it.”

Tune in to see how the lawsuit and tensions between Ava and Deborah play out as Hacks Season 2 unfolds on HBO Max.

Hacks, Season 2, New Episodes, Thursdays, HBO Max