'Hacks': A Comedic Generational Divide Gets Bridged, (Jean) Smartly

Two women attempt to reconcile their respective approaches to comedy in HBO Max's smart, sharp (but not too sharp), warm (but not too warm) series.
L to R: Legendary comic Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) performs while her reluctant assistant Ava (Hannah Einbinder) literally waits in the wings on Hacks. Source: Jake Niles Getter

There exists, in some alternate universe, a version of the new HBO Max series Hacks that is spikier, faster, meaner — and as a result, considerably thinner, less generous and less rewarding — than the one that premieres today.

Happily, this one's pretty great, because it achieves and maintains a delicate balance born out of: 1. Knowing its subject and 2. A determination to treat its two lead characters fairly.

There's a make-or-break moment in the pilot that establishes that balance, that confidence and that generosity all at once: Ava (Hannah Einbinder), a successful young comedy writer fallen on hard times,

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