It Starts On The Page: Read The Emmy-Nominated Script For ‘Hacks’ & A Q&A With Writers

"Hacks" Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max

Netting 15 Emmy nominations including for Outstanding Comedy Series, HBO Max’s Hacks has been a hit since its premiere in May. The show centers on the relationship between legendary Las Vegas comedian Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and struggling and entitled young comedy writer Ava Daniels (Hannah Einbinder). Both Smart and Einbinder have received nominations for their roles.

The pilot episode, titled “There Is No Line,” a nominee in the Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, introduces the audience to Deborah as she finds out that her weekend time slots are being cut to make room for new talent. Then we meet Ava, struggling to get work after she was fired due to an insensitive tweet. The episode follows their individual stories and culminates in an intense meeting between the two that sparks an uncomfortable working relationship.

(L-R) Lucia Aniello, Jen Statsky and Paul W. Downs

Here, the Emmy-nominated writers of the script — Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky — reteamed to answer some questions about their work on the pilot as part of Deadline’s It Starts on the Page, a series showcasing scripts from this year’s Emmy-nominated programs and the writers who brought them to life.

What was the inspiration for the series?

The inspiration was the underappreciated women in comedy (and in the arts in general) who never seem to get their due.

What is your favorite line from the script?

Deborah to Ava: “Write me 15 jokes by tomorrow morning. Nothing about pantyhose or the Challenger explosion — I’ve done ’em all!”

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The first meeting scene between Deborah and Ava. It’s a seven-page scene that needed to showcase their dynamic — both how they butt heads, but also how they speak a similar language and light a spark in each other.

How many rewrites did the script go through?

Too many to count! We’re still taking joke pitches for it if you’ve got any.

Click on the script below to read it.

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