Jean Smart, left, and Hannah Einbinder, right, in a scene from "Hacks." Source: Karen Ballard/HBO Max

EDGE Interview: Inside the World of Comedy with Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder and the Creators of 'Hacks'

Matthew Creith READ TIME: 6 MIN.

When "Hacks" premiered on Max in 2021, it became an instant hit with critics and audiences alike. The series, about the relationship between the aging Las Vegas comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and her woke bisexual comedy writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder), has gone on to earn several Emmy Awards since its debut. The second season ended in 2022, with Deborah and Ava going their separate ways. Deborah encouraged her young protege to climb her own mountain to success outside of Deborah's shadow.

With Season 3 airing in May, it's been two years since we've last tuned into the comedy series and the ladies of "Hacks" have been sorely missed. That was ever present during the premiere of the series' third season at the Paramount Theater in Austin, Texas during SXSW. A rowdy crowd cheered triumphantly for the 72-year-old Jean Smart as she strolled through the venue awaiting the first screening of the new season, equipped with stellar cameos and a reunion of television comedy's favorite duo.

The show has become so successful that in addition to Smart winning a Primetime Emmy Award for her work on "Hacks," Einbinder was recently the recipient of Variety's Comedy Actress Award at SXSW.

EDGE caught up with the cast and crew of "Hacks," including show creators Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs, prior to the third season's debut on the red carpet.

Jean Smart
Jean Smart in "Hacks."
Source: Courtesy of Max

Jean Smart

EDGE: I'm a huge fan of "Designing Women" and equally so with "Hacks." With both shows, you've become sort of an icon within the gay community over the years. What does that mean to have such a devoted fanbase?

Jean Smart: It means a lot and I have a lot of gay friends. I would feel terrible if they didn't like the kind of characters I portray. But also, it's flattering because I look at a lot of other women who are considered gay icons, and they're all women that I've always looked up to: Bette Midler, Judy Garland, Barbara Stanwyk. So I'm in very, very good company. Thank you for asking me that!

EDGE: Season 3 of "Hacks" starts one year after Deborah and Ava go their separate ways. What can you tell us about how they might repair their relationship in the upcoming season?

Jean Smart: I was just saying to somebody at breakfast that it's sort of like if a couple took a break for a while. They actually are better together when they come back. So, I think that's kind of true. Deborah and Ava, although there's a very unexpected twist at the end of the season.

EDGE: Oh, interesting!

Jean Smart: Yeah, we didn't even see it coming. You'll have to find out for yourself!

Hannah Einbinder
Poppy Liu, left, and Hannah Einbinder, right, in a scene from "Hacks."
Source: Courtesy of Max

Hannah Einbinder

EDGE: Congratulations on your Comedy Award last night! What does winning an award like that mean to you going into "Hacks" season three?

Hannah Einbinder: It means a lot to me. It is an accumulation of our entire team and all the work that's put into the show by our writers and creators and the geniuses behind the show.

EDGE: Your character came out to Deborah as bisexual during the first season of the series. Since that time, do you feel like your performance is elevating queerness on television?

Hannah Einbinder: When I was reading the pilot script, I felt like that was one of the first times I felt seen in media. There are definitely a lot of incredible representations of queerness. In fact, Desiree Akhavan was a director on our first season and she wrote, starred in, and directed a show called "The Bisexual," which I loved. I would say that was maybe the only other time that I had felt seen, so I hope I'm contributing to that feeling for someone else.

by Matthew Creith

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