At least in the setting. Both will make you laugh out loud but that’s where the similarity ends. Hacks is to Chateaubriand as Newark Newark is to corned beef, Bentley is to Trabant, Sandals is to Butlins.
Hacks has all the glamour of Vegas (Las not Johnny) and Jean Smart is at home in the luxurious surroundings. Smart plays Deborah Vance, an established Diva, with a capital D, of the stand-up comedy scene who lives and performs in Las Vegas “the international entertainment capital of the world”. Vance is headlining nights at the Palmetto Casino whilst presenting on a shopping channel and doing corporate paid gigs. Maintaining a glamorous public persona but going home alone to rattle around her sumptuous mansion with her pampered dogs. Deborah has put her career first above everything else in her personal life including her recalcitrant daughter DJ (Kaitlin Olson).
Vance’s star attraction is dwindling, fans are becoming fewer: the owner of the Palmetto, Marty (Christopher McDonald), although a friend, wants to give her Friday and Saturday slots over to a rising star who is ‘big box office’. In an attempt to rekindle Vances’s career, her manager Jimmy (Paul W Downs) sends a young TV comedy writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder) to help her freshen up her act with more relevant material.
Ava has been unemployed since writing a joke about a closeted senator and his gay son although by the standards of some of today’s real life comedic gaffs it was pretty tame as we later find out.
After a yin and yang start to their working relationship, the pair accept the situation and the rest of the series sees their generational relationship develop from professional toleration to a mutual understanding and friendship. Both Deborah and Ava are confident, even defensive, of their individual comic talent but come to the understanding that they are both in need of each other’s strengths and experience to survive, not just in the challenging world of stand-up but in life in general.
Hacks is an excellent watch and Jean Smart more than deserves the numerous awards she has received for playing Vance.
A much anticipated series/season 2 is on the way
Hacks is now streaming on Prime Video in the UK
Newark Newark is showing on Gold