Thursday, May 30, 2024

Review: HBO Max’s “Hacks” Comes to A Brilliant and Maybe Permanent End with Season 2 Finale


“Hacks” has turned out to be an enormous gem for HBO Max. Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder, and the whole cast have managed to synthesize a lot of different gourmet ingredients into a very special meal.

We watched the first six episodes of Season 2 gratefully, digging the whole Deborah Vance on the comeback trail tour bus through the south and west. There were a lot of terrific guest stars, too, including Polly Draper, Laurie Metcalf, and most movingly, Harriet Harris (who I think deserves a guest Emmy nomination).

The show tried to shoehorn in some subplots with other characters but “Hacks” is what they call a two-hander. It’s about Deborah and Ava, Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder. They’re the Lucy and Ethel, Mary and Rhoda, Jerry and Newman whose relationship is so perfectly executed we can’t take our eyes off of them. They could go on and on forever.

But now the final two episodes of Season 2 have arrived, and it seems like they will not go on forever. For whatever reason, “Hacks” ends with an ending. All loose ends are wrapped up satisfyingly. I was a little surprised actually. I’m sure it has to do with not knowing if HBO would ask them back. But still…it’s unclear what they would do now if they did return.

This second and possibly final season of “Hacks” did not compete with “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” last time around because the latter show was off season thanks to the pandemic. This time, they will go head to head at the Emmys in September. Last time, “Hacks” took Best Actress in a Comedy and Best Direction of a Comedy. It lost Best Comedy to “Ted Lasso.”

This time around there will be more competition. Now Rachel Brosnahan’s marvelous performance as “Mrs. Maisel” will be in the mix. But it will be tough going. Jean Smart is off the charts good. Everything about “Hacks” soars. If this is the last season, it will be much missed. I hope there’s a plan for a season three. (I guess Ava could get to run her own sitcom starring Deborah.) If not, “Hacks” will remain something great in TV history.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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