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Series / Hacks

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Look at all these hacks.

An HBO series starring Jean Smart as Deborah Vance, a doyenne of the Las Vegas comedy scene with a crowd-pleasing but well-worn schtick. Hannah Einbinder plays Ava Daniels, a 25-year-old bisexual comedy writer hired to freshen up Deborah's act. The show also features Carl Clemons-Hopkins as Deborah's COO Marcus, Kaitlin Olson as Deborah's daughter D.J., Paul W. Downs as Deborah and Ava's agent Jimmy, and Megan Statler as Jimmy's assistant Kayla.


This show provides examples of:

  • Angry Black Man: Subverted with Marcus, who is soft-spoken and has trouble standing up to Deborah and his mom.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Deborah delivers one when Ava calls her a "hack."
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Deborah and Ava disagree about feminism and the purpose of comedy. The show validates points of view.
  • But Not Too Bi: Averted with Ava. Her most significant ex is a woman, but she does have sex with a man.
  • Career Versus Man: A rare case in which a man is put in this position. Marcus's boyfriend dumps him when it becomes clear Marcus will always prioritize Deborah.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Ava begins to see a vulnerable side of Deborah as an Odd Friendship blossoms between them.
  • Dumb Blonde: Subverted with D.J. who appears to be a ditzy gal who rests on her mother's fame and money. When she wants to impulsively marry her boyfriend, Ava says she can't as so much in her life as "you can go back to school, get a GED." A baffled D.J. asks what she's talking about as "I went to Cornell!"
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  • Erotic Dream: Ava has one about Deborah.
  • Fake Relationship: Kayla lied that she and Jimmy were married so they could get a luxe honeymoon suite in Vegas.
  • A Family Affair: Deborah's husband left her for her sister.
  • Foreshadowing: When Ava does drugs with George, they talk about acting on impulse and “just wanting to jump.” The next morning, Ava discovers that George jumped from their hotel window to his death.
  • Glamorous Single Mother: Deborah.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Deborah surprises Ava by showing up at her father's funeral and basically emcees the ceremony. At the reception afterwards the two women agree to keep working with each other.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: This show about a comedy writer was, shockingly, created by comedy writers Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky.
  • Oh, Crap!: The first season ends with Ava and Deborah reconciled...until Jimmy reminds Ava that she spilled a bunch of Deborah's secrets to some British TV writers.
  • Rich Bitch: Conversed. Ava is excited to write for a show created by two respected British writers, until she finds out it's going to play this trope straight and they expect her to tell horror stories about what a monster Deborah is.
  • Sell-Out: How Ava views Deborah. Justified in that by selling out, Deborah is able to make a lot of people happy and support herself as a single mother.
  • Sex with the Ex: Subverted. When Ava's ex Ruby makes a move on her, Ava opts to call it a night since she has an important meeting the next day.
  • Silver Fox: Marty Ghilain, the handsome owner of the casino where Deborah performs, played by Christopher McDonald.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Ava's Gen-Z wokeness is met with withering remarks from Deborah.
  • Spoiled Sweet: D.J. completely depends on her mother financially and throws the occasional tantrum, but she is friendly to Ava. Her criticisms of Deborah's parenting are also valid, and she is trying to be more independent.
    • Also Kayla, who only got her job because her father is Jimmy's boss but is genuinely nice and even sets Ava up with a potentially career making opportunity all on her own.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Jimmy's assistant, Kayla, is a total moron who poured pure honey into his coffee because "you said you wanted it natural and honey comes from bears." She can't keep track of his calls, can't remember anyone he works with, and barely knows how to handle the phones. Why does Jimmy not fire her? Because she's the daughter of his boss and so he has to suck up.
    Kayla: You almost got stuck with some Harvard nerd always bragging about his Fulbright!
  • Woman Scorned: Exploited by Deborah, who in her act jokes about burning down her ex-husband's house after he left her for her sister. It turns out the fire was not Deborah's fault, though she does almost run over her sister when the meet again.
  • World of Snark: Justified in that the two main characters work in comedy.
  • Writer on Board: Downs is one of the creators and plays Jimmy.

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