Hacks Season 3 Premiere: Jean Smart, Hannah Einbinder Describe Deborah and Ava’s Dynamic as ‘Two Steps Forward, Five Steps Back’ — Watch

When we last left the ladies of Hacks, Deborah fired her writer and mentee Ava so the young scribe could focus on her own career. When the Season 3 premiere picks back up (the first two episodes are now available to stream on Max), nine months have passed, but it doesn’t take long for the women to reunite and jump-start their wildly entertaining, yet acerbic verbal sparring.

Ava did find success on her own writing for a hit show, while Deborah is still riding the wave from her special’s success. She’s selling out larger venues, banking loads on commercial appearances and is surrounded by “yes” people who are eager and willing to do her bidding. But she’s been ghosting Ava’s texts, opting for a “clean break,” and all that radio silence has hurt Ava’s feelings. So when the women accidentally bump into each other in an elevator at a Montreal comedy festival, things get awkward and real feelings quickly bubble up.

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“I think [Ava] is taken aback by the fact that she’s entering a dynamic that is so familiar and yet there is an inherent awkwardness, which is so not typical of the way that they’ve always connected,” Hannah Einbinder (who plays Ava) tells TVLine in the video above. “Even the first day they ever met, it was off to the races and confrontational. It’s the first time we see them in this context and I think Ava’s trying to play it cool and not launch into the desperate plea for an explanation.”

“And that lasts about 30 seconds,” adds Jean Smart with a laugh. “The things that probably would make [Deborah] the happiest are the things that she seems to push away the hardest… I think she missed that back and forth. She doesn’t have that relationship with anybody and [she’s] missing that one person who will tell you the truth. The more and more she’s surrounded by sycophants, she’s kind of missing that dynamic.”

Einbinder describes the characters’ evolution as being “in line with their typical dynamic, which is two steps forward, five steps back… [Ava] does lay down the law and have that conversation and try to create better boundaries, but of course, as we know, nothing lasts.”

In the first part of our Hacks Season 3 coverage (which you can watch above, with more to come in the following weeks), Einbinder and Smart further elaborate on Deborah and Ava’s complicated connection, before co-creators and executive producers Jen Statsky, Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs share their thoughts and tease what’s to come. As always, grade the episodes below and leave your thoughts in the comments!

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