BRUCE R. MILLER

If you haven’t seen the first season of ‘Hacks’, do so.

It gives Jean Smart one of those career-defining roles and sets her up for an equally good second season.

Playing a seasoned comedian (with a longtime Las Vegas hotel residency), she’s hardly an kissable star. She’s a survivor who has outlived her competition, her managers, and at least one husband. She’s also not on good terms with her daughter (Kaitlin Olson), but she knows there are sharks chomping on her designer heels.

Because the hotel owner wants to reduce her contract – and bring in Pentatonix, no less – she realizes that change is inevitable. But she won’t give up with a fight.

So Smart’s Deborah Vance — the woman accused of burning down a house — adds fuel to the fire by hiring a young writer (Hannah Einbinder) who can supposedly help her win a younger audience.

Created by Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello and Jen Statsky, “Hacks” nicely fills the void left by “VEEP”. It too is sharp and to the point. But, here we see what’s really going on in the lines that make others laugh.

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Deborah is a badass. She goes after her oh-so-good manager (Carl Clemons-Hopkins), bullies the staff, and confronts the hotel owner (Christopher McDonald) who can easily be beaten at his own game.

Think of Joan Rivers, Lucille Ball and Debbie Reynolds and you’ll get an idea of ​​what made trailblazers like her so successful.

The little moments (when, say, she changes the reservoir of a home soda machine without interrupting a conversation) add up. But it’s her interaction with Einbinder (as Ava, her new “writer”) that speaks volumes about the generation gap and why one won’t give in to the other.

Told to scan Vance’s archives, Ava discovers a woman she didn’t know and uses the knowledge to find a way in. Halfway through the 10-episode first season (perhaps there are many, many more), it’s clear how each can be the other.

Einbinder surprisingly rejects his boomer. And Smart is right back with a look that might bury the faintest of souls.

When she has to, Vance activates the charm. Besides the nighttime show, she has a QVC line and a series of mentions that suggest she’s not above cutting a ribbon if it means she’s still in the game. She can also crawl if it means it’s going to happen somewhere.

The fact that she always cares about trappings (and the possibility of buying a pepper shaker) is a big part of what makes her interesting. Smart plays the game and urges you to join him as well.

While “Hacks” may be a harsh title for something so deliciously good, it captures the price some are willing to pay for stardom. The brands can change, but not the desire.

“Hacks,” the first season, hits DVD this week; “Hacks,” season two, is on HBO Max.