‘There is no line. It’s just not funny’: Why Hacks is the perfect TV series for this moment

It seems like a week can’t pass without some sort of widespread online debate surrounding the comedy. And it’s not fun debates like “How does Rebecca Shaw’s hair get that shine, is it Labrador shampoo?” The debates instead revolve around “woke comedy” and “transphobic comedians” as if they are somehow two opposing sides in a rap battle.

hacks, a fictional TV show that examines comedy in this climate, just started its second season on Stan (owned by Nine, the owner of this masthead). Old-fashioned comedy legend Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) and struggling 20-something comedy writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder) are forced into a twisted mentorship. There is an intergenerational conflict as the two women approach comedy from different angles.

Hannah Einbinder comme Ava et Jean Smart comme Deborah Vance dans la deuxième saison de <i>hacks</i>.” src=”https://static.ffx.io/images/$zoom_0.394%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_86% 2Cf_auto/6cc7a2b13a21484606d8a8c374f4eed5d2f5040c” height=”224″ width=”335″ srcset=”https://static.ffx.io/images/$zoom_0.394%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756% 2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/6cc7a2b13a21484606d8a8c374f4eed5d2f5040c, https://static.ffx.io/images/$zoom_0.394%2C$multiply_0.8862%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$6%2C$width_75 $x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/6cc7a2b13a21484606d8a8c374f4eed5d2f5040c 2x”/></picture></div><figcaption class=

Hannah Einbinder as Ava and Jean Smart as Deborah Vance in the second season of hacks.Credit:Karen Ballard/HBO

hacks deals with their different points of view on everything from feminism to the structure of jokes in a clever way, without ever taking sides with the whole. This allows both characters to be right and wrong. Ava is often technically correct but she is so dull in her moral uprightness that one cannot happily take her side (very realistically). hacks, thankfully, largely avoids ruminating on “cancel culture” but it does have its moments. In season one, when Deborah learns that Ava has suffered the consequences of a humorous tweet about a U.S. Senator who “crossed a line”, she taunts, “There is no line. just isn’t funny.

“There’s no line, you should be able to joke about anything” is a common argument when the topic of “woke comedy” comes up. In my experience, this most often comes from straight white cis male comedians, and isn’t that a good sign, historically! Don’t worry, some of my best friends are straight white comedians. Usually aimed at people on the ‘woke side’, I think we need to send the sentiment of Deborah back to those who use her. OK, great, let’s all agree that there is no “line”. It only matters if it’s funny. So bring me all the hilarious jokes straight guys have about trans people. It should be simple, right?

I watched Ricky Gervais’ new Netflix special super loser to see what he had embarked after the aftermath of his transphobia. Within minutes, we get her first trans joke. “Old-fashioned women – oh, my God. You know, the ones with wombs? Those fucking dinosaurs. I like new women. They are awesome. The new ones we’ve seen lately – the ones with beards and dicks. Later, he talks about “identifying as a pram,” the laziest premise imaginable. He should start identifying himself as a comedian who writes new jokes. Gervais tries to get around this by laughing that he knows the jokes are bad or the punchlines are old. Admitting you’re telling hacking jokes is still telling hacking jokes.

Is it really what everyone fights so hard to have the right to say? You can’t have the nerve to go on stage with those unfunny jokes from five years ago for the first time and then say that being awake that’s what spoils the comedy. Your recycled hate jokes that have no new point of view ruin the comedy. There’s no line, it’s just not funny.

Ricky Gervais dans son nouveau spécial Netflix <i>SuperNature</i>.” loading=”lazy” src=”https://static.ffx.io/images/$zoom_0.677%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5%2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0 /t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/86c43954248ff4dc6c1c33bb6f7ed9f83a9b5a38″ height=”224″ width=”335″ srcset=”https://static.ffx.io/images/$zoom_0.677%2C$multiply_0.4431%2C$ratio_1.5 %2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_86%2Cf_auto/86c43954248ff4dc6c1c33bb6f7ed9f83a9b5a38, https://static.ffx.io/images/$zoom_0.677%2C$multiply_0.8862%2C$ratio_1.5% 2C$width_756%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/q_62%2Cf_auto/86c43954248ff4dc6c1c33bb6f7ed9f83a9b5a38 2x”/></picture></div><figcaption class=

Ricky Gervais in his new Netflix special SuperNature.Credit:

In hacks, Deborah is stuck in her ways. She resists change, but she succeeds. Because for Deborah, her art is the most important thing. She, like Gervais and Chapeldoesn’t need change because it is established. Deborah might retire to her mansion, but she wanna to improve and stay relevant. Its real world equivalents do not.

In his special, right after awful transphobic jokes, Gervais says, “People have a right to complain and be offended, but they need to know that we’re not trying to offend. We try to make you laugh, we try to make you have a good time. Who is he trying to give a good time at, exactly? Could a trans fan “have a good time” listening to these jokes? The fact that this incredibly wealthy and powerful man is using his global platform to target the trans community, which is already discriminated against on so many levels, going through so much and being at real risk of violence… It is not a question of being offended by jokes. Forget comedy, it’s despicable on a human level.

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