It’s still early days—we’re literally just one episode in so far—but HBO Max’s Hacks has all the hallmarks of a brand-spanking new television obsession. I’m glad they’re meting it out one episode per week, with just thirty minutes per episode—any more than that at a time might send me into an eye-rolling pleasure coma.
At long last (and praise be to whoever finally thought of doing it!), the great Jean Smart is the lead in her very own show, headlining as just-past-her-prime comedian Deborah Vance. Playing Vegas showrooms and hawking marble-and-rhinestoned bath caddies on QVC, Deborah is funny but not funny-funny and she’s just on the edge of knowing that.
Plot machinations ensue and bing bang bong, she’s collaborating with a cursing, combat boot-wearing millennial (or whatever comes after that—I’ve lost track) played by Hannah Einbinder who’s got problems of her own, having recently Twittered herself into hot water and found herself otherwise un-employable.
That’s all the set-up you need (and all we’ve gotten from the first episode, really, though we do get some all-new Liberace information). It’s a premise that’s not completely unfamiliar—it calls to mind the Emma Thompson/Mindy Kaling movie Late Night and a few The Devil Wears Prada barbs prick through the bright Las Vegas sheen as well—but it’s big fun so far.
It’s short and sharp and a little dark and (depending on your dirty-o-meter) a little dirty. And even if Hacks seems like it miiiight not be your thing, you’ll giggle through the bit where a caftan-clad Smart apparently decides to leave no scenery left standing and chews her way through a poolside sequence, throwing her iPad in the water, outraged by the very thought of Pentatonix. All I could do was nod my head and think “Yes, girl, yes.”