Max’s ‘Hacks’ Season 3 Review

Photo Credit: Max

A period of strikes and medical complications led to the delay of the much anticipated third season of Max’s Hacks. The time off only helped to make the third season feel more timely than ever, impactful and even more fully realized. Season three is a bigger ode to the world of comedy and it continues to highlight its love of pop culture as it shines through the whole season. It never loses sight of its core, crafting some of the best television of the year. 

Following the release of her comedy special, Deborah Vance finds herself in the next stage of her long and storied comedy career. Her team and management look to propel her even further, standing by her side, all in on advancing her career even more. Like magnets, Deborah and Ava yet again find their way back to each other, but with them both realizing things can’t remain the same as they were before completely, or they could completely repel one another. 

Ava and Deborah’s deep connection leads to them rubbing off on each other even more. The chemistry is electric when they are together on screen. Watching them banter back and forth or bicker amongst themselves is a sight to behold. I really enjoyed seeing the growth both characters have gone through based on their past and underlying mutual respect for one another. They are still the same brash and stubborn people but somehow have picked up on each others charms, strengths and weaknesses. The results vary with each engagement, sometimes complicating their often fragile connection. The back and forths between the two, lobbing insults and jokes at one another, brought so many smiles. It’s like family reuniting. We see their unabashed emotions amplified. They’re constantly deflecting their true feelings and taking out frustrations on one another. It is truly writing, acting and comedy at its best. 

The series continues to thrive in this almost silent confidence where characters are so fully realized and lived in that they feel completely real, existing in our real world. It’s almost as if we’re witnessing a documentary on these characters because of how believable they come across. There are really no weak links this season. Every character has their purpose in the bigger picture and their stories pay off within the arcs of the season and series as a whole so far.

Jean Smart continues to give a performance like no other. There is so much nuance she brings to the role. Deborah is constantly having to deal with her age, relationships, the complexities of being a woman in the industry, society, family dynamics and so much more. All of this weighs heavy on her and Jean Smart navigates them all with such finesse. 

Hannah Einbinder feels even more comfortable in the role of Ava this season. She brings more intensity, more emotion and carries her own against Jean Smart. You can feel Ava’s growth with each situation she finds herself in. There is more confidence, while still finding the cracks in her character which brings out more vulnerability. 

The smallest gripe I had last season remains where some of the supporting cast still could use more attention as Deborah and Ava continue to dominate the overall story. Marcus’ arc could have benefited from more attention but it completely makes sense in the three season arc of his story. There are times I wish they all had bigger storylines to round out more complete storylines rather than little bits here and there. But still, all the little pieces come together offering more season long satisfaction. While wanting more, their placement through the season is vital. Remove one and the scene wouldn’t land as well. In group scenes where Deb’s team is all assembled it is comedy gold. It reminds me of some of the funniest Veep scenes where there are no weak links to the comedy bit and everyone is fully in the moment. Even Kayla finds a bigger role this season with a much welcomed payoff. As always, the guest cast is once again impressive. 

Over the course of the nine episodes, one of the more interesting themes was the idea of sacrifice and compromise. What are you willing to do to achieve a goal or position? Where is the line that you are not willing to cross, and if you do cross it, what does that mean for you? There are multiple characters struggling with these ideas throughout the season. Some take the whole season to reach, while others have sudden realizations about who they have become and ponder if it is time to make a change. The theme has been present throughout the series, but everyone really has a come to moment where they decide to go for it, to take a bold risk, or even step away for their own well being. 

The instant the season ended, it left me craving more. It is set up where there must be a fourth season because the bold choices that characters make. Each will set up for an even juicer potential new season. The stakes have been raised and I have faith we will see it all play out. 

Bold, emotional and cleverly funny, season three will entertain everyone who chooses to continue on this extraordinary ride. 

Season three of Hacks premieres May 2 on Max with two episodes weekly. 

Lee Arvoy
Lee Arvoy joined the TV Source team in the summer of 2020 as a TV Writer.

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