A total of 15 Emmy nominations including for Outstanding Comedy Series would be an impressive achievement for any first-season series, but in the case of HBO Max’s Hacks it is particularly noteworthy as the show didn’t even premiere until the end of the season and was still unveiling new episodes even after the Emmys eligibility period ended May 31. It is also the first season of Emmy eligibility for the new streamer, so the big score here was very sweet indeed for it and the show, which centers on a Joan Rivers-style Vegas comedienne played by Jean Smart and her rocky relationship with a young comedy writer played by Hannah Einbinder who is hired to give her some fresh new material. It is a premise that delivers big laughs, biting wit and tense drama that has immediately caught on with critics, viewers and obviously Emmy voters.
It is all the brainchild of a trio of creators: Paul W. Downs, who also plays Jimmy, the manager of the young writer; Lucia Aniello, who also is a director on the show; and Jen Statsky. They are all multiple Emmy nominees for the show itself, as well as for writing the pilot, and in the case of Aniello also as director of that pilot. So what makes them work so well together, and how does the collaboration jell? I found out when they joined me for this week’s episode of my Deadline video series Behind the Lens.
All of them have a long comedic history together and a lot of insight as to how to make comedy with an edge. We discuss the creation of the show (at a place you would never guess would spark such inspiration), and why the world of stand-up and Vegas and a professional relationship fraught with tension can also serve as great fodder for a TV series. They also share just which comedic icons were the inspiration for Smart’s Deborah Vance. We also talk about where the show will go in its already renewed second season, as well as what all those Emmy nominations really mean to them.
To watch our conversation and to go “behind the lens” with the creators of Hacks, click on the video above.