Hannah Einbinder: ‘Hacks’ Character Is ‘In Her Own Little Hell’

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Hannah Einbinder said her character on Hacks, returning Thursday, bears the brunt of the comedy show’s drama.

“Being the only one who’s in their own little hell is difficult and isolating, for sure,” Einbinder told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. “I was really grateful to be able to do some of that work.”

Einbinder, 26, plays Ava, a new writer hired by Las Vegas standup comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart). In the season finale, Ava planned to quit and sent an email to the creators of the scripted series about Deborah’s abuses as a boss.

Then, Deborah came to the funeral of Ava’s father and told Ava how much she values her. As Ava returned to accompany Deborah on a comedy tour, Ava’s manager called her to tell her the email had been leaked.

Season 2 begins immediately after the Season 1 finale.

“We join our girls just as we left them — on the plane, fear in Ava’s eyes,” Einbinder said.

Ava spends the beginning of Season 2 worrying that Deborah will find out about the email. Einbinder said she believes a confrontation is inevitable.

“The only way up is through,” Einbinder said. “So, she’s going to be in trouble.”

In addition to the death of her father, Ava lost a previous TV deal for tweeting an inappropriate joke, coped with a friend’s suicide and sent a nude photo of herself to her ex-girlfriend.

Hacks Season 2 may surprise fans of the show. However, Einbinder was not surprised because she believes Deborah is capable of anything.

“Deborah Vance never shocks me,” Einbinder said. “That woman is one-of-a-kind ,a piece of work. I wasn’t shocked, but I was amused.”

Einbinder said Ava and Deborah are more similar than either one would want to admit. Deborah’s personal drama revolves more around her daughter (Kaitlin Olsen), ex-husband and career woes with the owner (Christopher McDonald) of the casino that used to host her show.

Ava and Deborah share an interest in humor. Though they come from different eras of comedy, Einbinder said the women work just as hard.

“They really share that same ethics system, their work ethic and obsession over their work,” Einbinder said. “They are both flawed, so they really are two peas in a pod.”

Their similarities may be what leads to some of their friction, in which Deborah takes out her frustrations on Ava, he said.

“When we are critical of others, it can sometimes be linked to our own fears about ourselves,” Einbinder said. “I think that that’s absolutely the case with Ava and Deborah.”

Season 2 will also show that Deborah has a line she won’t cross. Viewers will have to wait to see what causes Deborah to express compassion again like she did in the season finale.

“She’s not so far gone as a celebrity that she doesn’t recognize when it’s time to drop things and be a human being,” Einbinder said.

Deborah’s comedy tour allows the show to move to locations outside of Las Vegas. Einbinder filmed scenes in Arizona, at the Grand Canyon and “all around California, pretending it’s other places.”

Season 1 of Hacks won three Emmys – for Smart’s performance, Lucia Aniello’s directing and the writing.

Comedy runs in Einbinder’s family, too. Her father, Chad, is a comedy writer. Her mother, Laraine Newman, was one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live.

Hacks is Einbinder’s first series lead. She previously was a standup comic who wrote her own material.

“I definitely am familiar with Deborah’s rhythm as a comic,” Einbinder said. “It’s just exciting to interact with something that I myself would maybe not typically see every day.”

New episodes of Hacks premiere Thursdays on HBO Max.