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Hacks season 2: next episode, recaps and everything we know about the Jean Smart comedy series

Hannah Einbinder and Jean Smart stare at each other in a store in Hacks
Hannah Einbinder and Jean Smart in Hacks season 2 (Image credit: Courtesy of HBO Max)

After becoming one of the best new TV shows of 2021, Hacks is ready for an encore. The much anticipated Hacks season 2 is here and it’s hard not to be excited to get more of Deborah (Jean Smart in an Emmy-winning performance) and Ava’s (the Emmy-nominated Hannah Einbinder) dysfunctional and magnificent relationship.

Hacks season 1 backed up its critics reviews with plenty of awards. With the above mentioned Emmy win and nomination, Hacks earned 15 nominations in total, including Outstanding Comedy Series, and three wins. Hacks has also established itself as one of the flagship HBO Max original shows. Can it build on that with its second season?

Here is everything you need to know about Hacks season 2.

When is the next Hacks episode?

As of Thursday, May 19, episode 3 and 4 of Hacks season 2 are now available to stream on HBO Max.

Two new episodes of Hacks will be released every week for its entire eight episode second season, with the the finale on June 2. This is the same release strategy that Hacks had for season 1, though the show’s first season was 10 episodes long.

There is no info on when Hacks season 2 may debut in the UK. The first season of the comedy just recently debuted on Prime Video in the UK.

What is the Hacks season 2 plot?

The first season of Hacks put the odd couple of Deborah Vance and Ava Daniels together, each trying to save their fledgling comedy careers. While they butt heads, the pair prove to be a strong team. Hacks season 2 continues to explore their dynamic as they take their act on the road. Here is the official synopsis for Hacks season 2:

"The dark mentorship between legendary Las Vegas comedian Deborah Vance and her young, entitled writer Ava continues to evolve as the two travel across the country workshopping Deborah’s new stand-up act."

Here is the synopsis for all of the Hacks season 2 episodes released so far:

Hacks season 2 episode 1, "There Will Be Blood"
"Deborah eagerly anticipates trying out her new material on the road, while Ava dreads the fallout of an explosive email." Read What to Watch's in-depth recap of Hacks season 2 episode 1 right here.

Hacks season 2 episode 2, "Quid Pro Quo"
"Deborah embraces tour life; Ava grapples with the value of honesty; Jimmy learns the harsh realities of Hollywood dealmaking." Read What to Watch's in-depth recap of Hacks season 2 episode 2 right here.

Hacks season 2 episode 3, "Trust the Process"
"Deborah continues to workshop her material on the road, as Ava adapts to a new lifestyle. Marcus is overwhelmed by life without Wilson." Read What to Watch's in-depth recap of Hacks season 2 episode 3 right here.

Hacks season 2 episode 4, "The Captain's Wife"
"While Deb struggles to connect with her audience on a cruise, Ava finds herself an unexpected hit." Read What to Watch's in-depth recap of Hacks season 2 episode 4 right here.

Is there a Hacks season 2 trailer?

Whet your appetite for the return of Hacks with these season 2 trailers. Get a peek at the antics, arguments and touching moments that Deborah and Ava are going to have this season with the Hacks season 2 official trailer and teaser trailer below:

Hacks season 1 recap

If you need a refresher course to remember everything that happened in Hacks season 1, definitely read What to Watch’s Hacks recaps for the entire first season. In the meantime, here’s an abridged version.

At the beginning of Hacks, Deborah Vance is a comedy legend who has enjoyed a soon-to-be-record-setting residency at Las Vegas performing stand-up. Unbeknownst to her, however, her star has faded, and she is told that her record-setting show will be her last. In an effort to refresh her career, Deborah’s agent pairs her with another one of his clients, the down-on-her-luck, entitled comedy writer Ava. 

Each of them are equally as thrilled to be working together, which is to say not much. However, slowly they begin to form a rapport — Ava learns that there is more to Deborah’s career than she initially thought, while Deborah begins to see the benefits and opportunities of changing up her act.

Ava also gets to meet more of Deborah’s inner circle. There’s her manager, Marcus, who struggles to balance his work running Deborah’s business dealings and his own personal life; her daughter DJ, who desperately struggles to find her own thing to be passionate about; and Marty, the casino owner who is making the decision to end Deborah’s residency.

But Ava also has her own issues. Her career nearly cratered after a tweet gone wrong; she still has feelings for her ex-girlfriend; and her dad is dealing with health issues.

Things come to a head as Deborah prepares for her final residency performance where she plans to debut the new act she and Ava have developed. Ava, meanwhile, lands an interview to be a writer for a new TV show, which she keeps from Deborah. When she learns that show just wants to mine her for stories about working for a demanding boss like Deborah, Ava turns it down, but word of the interview makes it back to Deborah. The two clash, with Deborah saying she is not going to do their new act. Ava calls her a "hack" and quits, heading home to Boston to be with her ailing dad, who unfortunately passes away.

At the funeral, Deborah surprisingly arrives. She tells Ava that she did go through with their act, but it bombed. However, she thought there were pieces that worked and wants to keep developing it with Ava. The two head off on the road with this goal, though Ava is reminded of one thing as the season ends — in her anger after quitting she sent a bunch of material about Deborah to the TV show writers.

Who is in the Hacks season 2 cast?

Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder are the one-two punch of Hacks as Deborah Vance and Ava Daniels, respectively. The pair proved to have fantastic chemistry in the first season and that should only get better as their characters’ relationship deepens.

Smart has been on fire recently. In addition to Hacks she was in the hit 2021 series Mare of Easttown and she’s lent her voice to the popular adult animated series Big Mouth. Other well-known credits for Smart include Legion, Watchmen, Fargo, 24, Garden State and more. She’s also going to be starring in the upcoming Damien Chazelle movie, Babylon.

Einbinder was a complete discovery with Hacks season 1 (she had just three other credits in little known projects prior).

Other returning cast members for Hacks season 2 include Carl Clemons-Hopkins as Marcus; Christopher McDonald as Marty; Kaitlin Olson as DJ; Paul W. Downs as agent Jimmy; Megan Statler as Jimmy’s assistant Kayla; Poppy Liu as Kiki; Rose Abdoo as Josefina; Mark Indelicato as Damien; Angela E. Gibbs as Marcus’s mom; Luenell as Miss Loretta; Johnny Sibilly as Wilson; Joe Mande as Ray; Ally Maki as Taylor; Lorenza Izzo as Ruby; and Jane Adams as Nina Daniels.

New regular cast members include Laurie Metcalf, Martha Kelly, Ming-Na Wen and Susie Essman. Margaret Cho and Devon Sawa are slated to guest star.

Hacks season 2 images

Check out some of the stills from Hacks season 2 and the official season 2 poster below.

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Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder stand in front of a farm in Hacks

(Image credit: Karen Ballard/HBO Max)
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Carl Clemson-Hopkins, Hannah Einbinder Rose Abdoo and Jean Smart meet in a living room in Hacks

(Image credit: Courtesy of HBO Max)
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Wayne Newton and Jean Smart talk outside an octagon cage in Hacks

(Image credit: Courtesy of HBO Max)
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Hannah Einbinder in a Christmas store in Hacks

(Image credit: Courtesy of HBO Max)
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Jean Smart, Megan Statler and Paul Downs meet in an office in Hacks

(Image credit: Courtesy of HBO Max)
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John Sibilly and Carl Clemson-Hopkins talk in a night club in Hacks

(Image credit: Courtesy of HBO Max)
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Poppy Liu, Hannah Einbinder and Kaitlin Olson watch a fight in Hacks

(Image credit: Courtesy of HBO Max)
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Hannah Einbinder and Jean Smart at the Grand Canyon in Hacks

(Image credit: Courtesy of HBO Max)

Hacks season 2 poster

(Image credit: Courtesy of HBO Max)

How to watch Hacks

Hacks season 2 plays exclusively on HBO Max, meaning anyone wanting to watch it will need to subscribe to the streaming service. The good news is that you can sign up for either HBO Max’s ad-supported or ad-free plan. With an HBO Max account, you will also be able to watch the entire first season whenever.

For the UK, where HBO Max is not available, the first season is now available on Prime Video, but it is unclear when Hacks season 2 will arrive in the UK.

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun.