Recent Comments


    Love Me Some Hacks!

    By Jan Wahl–

    Ever watched a show and never wanted it to end? I binge the ones I love. They are over too soon. That would include Ripley, Bridgerton, and Hacks. I am on the newest season, and it just gets better. I have heard they are shooting season three and just have to try and practice patience, which is challenging!

    Hacks is loosely based on the life and career of Joan Rivers. I was lucky enough to know Joan, and there are similarities and differences. Unlike Deborah Vance (Jean Smart), the main character in Hacks, Joan was a loving mother to Melissa. She lived like a queen in Manhattan. Deborah lives like an empress in Las Vegas.

    As for the similarities, Deborah is obsessed with having her own late night talk show. She once had one but lost it due to network politics, egos, and a lack of Lady Luck. She is totally connected to the home shopping channel QVC, and designs clothes, jewelry, and household goods for them.  Joan was extremely successful this same way.  I am wearing a yellow anchor Joan Rivers bee pin right now. Both Joan and Deborah had numerous face lifts and “refreshers.” 

    Joan Rivers

    Though Joan had devoted assistants, I never heard of a devoted head writer, though I am sure she had them. Deborah’s head writer is a remarkable and feisty young gay woman, played magnificently by Hannah Einbinder. Einbinder’s actual mother is Saturday Night Live comedienne Laraine Newman. 

    Her backstory is standup comedy, but on Hacks she really shows her acting chops. She is an out bisexual, but in the show is a vulnerable, lusty lesbian who gets her heart broken but never gives up. Her character is career driven, so she hopes her tumultuous relationship with Deborah pays off. Hannah has scenes that are beautiful to watch. She is a remarkable performer who is able to do both high comedy and drama.

    Designing Women (1986–1993) was the show that made us all aware of Smart. Her role as Charlene was loveable and fun. But it was on the Frasier episode “A Day in May” that TV executives saw she could play caustic and tough. Whether playing a stand-up goddess, QVC shill, gay icon, or brokenhearted sister and mother, Smart really brings it. 

    The side characters are nothing short of wonderful. Comedian/actress Megan Stalter plays deluded and hysterically authentic as one of Deborah’s assistants. The co-creator of the series is Paul W. Downs as the insecure but determined boss to Megan. There is also hunky Carl Clemons-Hopkins as Deborah’s overwhelmed right hand and Kaitlin Olson as Deborah’s wild-child daughter. 

    Guest stars show up playing themselves or relatable showbiz types. My favorite was an episode where Einbinder ends up in bed with a filthy rich golfer played by gorgeous Christina Hendricks (Mad Men). Imagine Einbinder’s horror when she finds out this beautiful babe is not only into kink but is also a Republican!

    Hacks streams on Max and is the reason I invested in the streaming service. Start the series from the beginning. It only gets better!

    Jan Wahl is a Hollywood historian and film critic on various broadcast outlets. She has two Emmys and many awards for her longtime work on behalf of film buffs and the LGBTQ community. Contact her at

    Off the Wahl
    Published on June 13, 2024