Hacks Season 2: EPs Tee Up Looming Email Fiasco That 'Tosses Deborah and Ava's Relationship Into Turmoil'

Hacks Season 2 Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder

Deborah and Ava are hitting the road, but one dirt-slinging email threatens to ruin everything they’ve built between them. (Don’t do drugs, kids.)

In Hacks‘ Season 2 (which premieres with its first two episodes Thursday, May 12 on HBO Max), the two ladies leave Las Vegas to workshop Deborah’s new intimate material on the road. But when we pick up just seconds after Season 1 left off, Ava is racked with guilt and panic after getting word that her smack-talking email about her boss has gotten around. While the ladies seem to have turned a new leaf following their explosive finale face-off last season, Ava’s big secret threatens to upend everything the women have worked towards, including their new tour across the States and the fresh start they both agreed to.

Below, TVLine talks to co-creators, co-showrunners and executive producers Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky about what’s to come for Deborah and Ava on tour in Season 2, how the stand-up’s insecurity starts to rear its head and how much pandemonium Ava’s betrayal will cause on the road.

TVLINE | I think it’s safe to assume that Ava’s secret won’t stay secret for long. Once Deborah learns the truth about the email, how will that affect their relationship?
LUCIA ANIELLO | It ends in violence. It ends in blood. It ends in things you cannot repair. [Laughs] I mean, those are all kind of true things. I think it’s really hard when you have made such leaps and bounds with somebody interpersonally the way that Deborah and Ava have in the course of Season 1, and find that trust has been broken through this email. It really does toss their relationship into turmoil. Like, “After all that, this is what you think of me?” They both really wrestle with what they think of the other person, and what that means about how they think about themselves, especially because Deborah is forced to reckon with what Ava has written about her. For us, it’s a way to have them question everything about their relationship in a way that is hopefully very interesting for viewers.

Hacks Season 2 Jean Smart and Hannah EinbinderTVLINE | In the trailer, we see Deborah questioning whether going out on tour is even a good idea. How would you describe this moment of transition in her career?
JEN STATSKY | It’s obviously a huge moment of change for Deborah. She’s trying to do something really difficult that she hasn’t challenged herself to do in a very long time, and it’s Ava who pushed her to do that. There’s a version of Deborah where she could just rest on her laurels and keep doing the same old thing, and so to say, “I’m going to start fresh, I’m going to do this whole new show, and get rid of all the material I’ve been doing and do this more honest, vulnerable show” is a challenging thing. At the beginning of the premiere, she’s excited to do it, but like any of us would feel when taking on such an endeavor, it starts to get scary and you realize what exactly you’re taking on. Deborah’s doing this new thing that she hasn’t done in a very long time and because she’s human, doubt and insecurity creep in. That’s such an important part of Ava and Deborah’s relationship over the course of Season 2. She’s scared by it, but luckily has someone by her side to buoy her and keep her motivated.

Hacks Paul W. DownsTVLINE | Paul, Jimmy’s relationship with Kayla is a bit of a rollercoaster this season. What can you tease about what goes on between your character and his assistant in Season 2?
PAUL W. DOWNS | Well, I think “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is kind of a theme that repeats itself, obviously for Deborah and Ava, but also for Jimmy and Ava. The show at its core is about a manager and his very difficult assistant/boss… [everyone laughs] Honestly, one of the things we’ve gotten to do this season is really evolve and grow the characters in the ensemble, and there’s a lot of growth that happens, especially for Kayla, but also for Jimmy and Kayla and their relationship together. I’m really excited for the audience to see what happens in the last few episodes of the season because, let’s just say a lot goes down.

TVLINE | There are so many great guest stars this season, but can you tell me a bit about Laurie Metcalf’s character and how she got involved with the show? 
ANIELLO | Laurie plays Alice aka “Weed.” It’s a nickname that Pete Wentz gave her and “when Pete gives you a nickname, it sticks!” She’s a road dog, always keeping them on time and is really annoying about it. She’s this external force, not only for Deb and Ava, but also for Damian who is driven crazy by her.

Laurie was an absolute joy. Of course, we all know her from Roseanne and so many other things, but for us, Getting On was the thing we would rewind and watch just the tiniest little nuances that she would give. I really respect her so much as an actor. We wrote the part with her in mind. We had written it as, “Think Laurie Metcalf.” Linda Lowy, the head of casting from Warner Bros., knows her. They’re quite close and she mentioned it to her. She said, “Hey, there’s a part that says ‘think Laurie Metcalf,'” and [Laurie] asked, “Well, what’s the part?”
DOWNS | Honestly, Linda got the script, and then randomly, I think, Laurie was in her backyard and they were having drinks. It was true serendipity. It was a huge honor.
STATSKY | A real career highlight for all of us to get to work with her.
ANIELLO | We really have Linda to thank for making that happen.

Hacks Ava's HandsTVLINE | I need to know the genesis of the jokes about Ava’s large hands! I love that it’s become a running gag now.
DOWNS | It’s so weird because that happened before we had cast Hannah.
STATSKY | Yeah, we cast Hannah after the show had been written, and that joke was written early on as part of the nightmare boss, Deborah, torturing this employee. We were like, “She should make fun of her hands for being huge.” We did at a certain point say to Hannah like, “Just so you know, this was before you signed on, this isn’t something we noticed.”
DOWNS | Well, Hannah being like, “Did you write this because of my hand size?” We were like, “No, you have big hands?” And she was like, “I have notoriously big hands, and also here’s a photo of me as a teen.” And there’s a photo we use in the [Season 1] finale where her hand is comically large looking, but it’s not Photoshop, it’s truly just alien. It’s like that awkward phase when parts of you are growing, and her hands grew first. And we actually ended up using it in the show.
ANIELLO | I think Deborah says, “Positively extraterrestrial.”
STATSKY | People thought we Photoshopped it!
DOWNS | Not photoshopped. Not written after the fact. Again, all serendipity. There’s a lot of serendipity happening in the show.