Why Hacks Star Hannah Einbinder Thought The Series Was Ending After Season 2

As a TV viewer, few things are more upsetting than a show that's run on long past its expiration date. But when "Hacks" concluded its second season on a surprisingly final note this summer, I thought maybe I'd discovered something even worse: a show that ended by choice in the middle of its prime. Luckily, it turns out that "Hacks" will be back for a third season, but for a minute there, the finale didn't just fake us out — it also faked out one of the show's stars.

Hannah Einbinder, who plays legendary comedian Deborah Vance's (Jean Smart) younger, equally dysfunctional writing partner Ava in the show, appeared on Variety's Awards Circuit podcast this week. There, she described the emotional feeling of reading the final season 2 script, which sees Deborah fire Ava for her own good, explaining that they've done their work together and now it's time for Ava to go do hers. Even more heartbreaking, somehow, is the news that Deborah has also dropped her lawsuit against Ava, meaning for better or worse the pair don't have anything officially connecting them anymore.

Einbinder was feeling Ava-level panic

In the series, the news hits Ava like a gut punch, and apparently it felt that way to Einbinder as well. "They dole out the scripts gradually during production, so I didn't get that script in the beginning of shooting," she explained, saying she "wasn't given really any sort of heads up at all" about just how much the finale was designed to feel like an ending.

"I was very scared. I thought that I was going to be fired," she tells Awards Circuit. "I was going through all of the panicky fear things. It's kind of insane in retrospect, but I think I was a little too close to the case. Like it really, really upset me." 

I see what she means. If "Hacks" season 2 ended the series, it would be a case of real life mirroring the characters' arcs, with the powers-that-be (Ava in the show, the writers in reality) deciding to go out on a high note even if it means leaving Ava (and Einbinder) gutted in the process.

Luckily, this did not turn out to be the case here. Einbinder says that after "a couple hours" of crying, she called series co-creators Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello, and Jen Statsky, and they reassured her that they had more in store for these characters. Still, Einbinder says she felt the Ava parallels in the conversation they had. "I feel like I was right there along with the viewers on it. I was just like, 'Why?!' you know? 'It was so good!' Like literally quoting Ava."

What will Hacks do next?

Einbinder says that whenever she studied the script for "The One, The Only," she would "just sort of fall apart a little bit," but it sounds like everything turned out as good as it possibly could for all involved — including viewers who were left in a similar state of distress by the finale. The show will return, although Einbinder says she doesn't have the details about season 3 yet. Her own wish list for season 3 involves a Deborah and Ava reunion, with the pair working together in a healthier way than before, as well as a return to Las Vegas.

One plot point that could surely come up again involves a particularly dark moment in the finale, when Deborah's manager Jimmy (played by Paul W. Downs) lies to her about a medical emergency that happens in the middle of her comedy special taping. A man in the audience died of a heart attack, but Jimmy says he's okay so Deborah can keep her act going. Will that come back to bite him later? It seems likely, especially given that seeing endlessly put-upon Jimmy suffer has become one of the most consistently hilarious parts of the show.

"Hacks" season 3 does not have a premiere date yet, but is set to stream on HBO Max.