HACKS – Review by Susan Granger

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With 32 nominations and 3 Emmys, the second season of Hacks fulfills its promise as a comic examination of female friendship.

The series picks up where it left off – as stand-up comedy legend Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) recovers from bombing in her final Las Vegas performance, losing her long-time residency at the glitzy Palmetto Casino.

“It’s not my town anymore,” she sadly admits, acknowledging the rapidly-shifting entertainment landscape.

Ready to go on the road in Deborah’s new tour-bus, her Gen-Z comedy-writing protégé Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder) is terrified that her boss will discover that she drunkenly sent off an incriminating e-mail detailing her negative feelings about Deborah and revealing damaging details about her personal life. It’s a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode.

Also along for the bumpy ride are Deborah’s personal assistant Damien (Mark Indelicato) and veteran road-coordinator, aptly nicknamed Weed (Laurie Metcalf), leaving Deborah’s imperturbable business manager Marcus (Carl Clemons-Hopkins) back in Las Vegas and Deborah’s long-suffering talent agent Jimmy (Paul W. Downs) in Los Angeles with his ditsy assistant Kayla (Megan Stalter).

After conferring with Ava, Deborah’s new ‘back-to-basics’ act will focus on more confessional material – like when Deborah ‘lost’ the late-night talk show and her husband ran off with her sister – as they travel around the country, munching on fast-food snacks and stopping for yard sales/bargains at Lord ‘n’ Taylor before being upstaged at a State Fair by a pregnant cow and being abruptly ejected from a lesbian cruise.

Confidently created by Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky, who have become experts at pacing and timing, it’s now a solidified, consistently funny two-hander as acidic, imperious Deborah deepens the prickly dynamic, struggling not only to survive but also to mentor snide, self-destructive Ava.

Plus there’s a terrific supporting cast, including Kiki (Poppy Liu), the freelance blackjack dealer, and Deborah’s estranged daughter DJ (Kaitlin Olson) with her cage-fighting husband.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Hacks is an often hilarious, insightful 8, streaming on HBO Max and already renewed for a third season.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.