"There Is No Line"
Hacks episode
The screenshot is a wide shot of a lavish living room where Ava Daniels and Deborah Vance are seated opposite each other on identical green couches separated by a marble coffee table. The shot shows their profiles.
The first meeting of lead characters (left to right) Ava Daniels and Deborah Vance
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 1
Directed byLucia Aniello
Written by
Produced by
Featured musicCarlos Rafael Rivera
Cinematography byAdam Bricker
Editing byJessica Brunetto
Original release dateMay 13, 2021 (2021-05-13)
Running time29 minutes
Episode chronology
← Previous
Next →
List of episodes

"There Is No Line" is the pilot episode of the American comedy-drama television series Hacks. It was directed by Lucia Aniello and co-written with Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky. The episode establishes the plot of the series, which centers comediennes from different generations (played by Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder) who are thrust into a working relationship after separate circumstances threaten their careers. The episode premiered on streaming network HBO Max on May 13, 2021 with an approximate running time of 29 minutes.

"There Is No Line" received Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series.


Deborah Vance is an established comedienne in the twilight of her career with a residency at The Palmetto casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is financially successful and content with her regular Friday and Saturday night performances, as well as her frequent QVC sales appearances. She later panics when Marty, the Palmetto's owner, takes her to lunch to celebrate her 2,500th performance and informs her that he is moving her to midweek so that her premium dates can be given to new acts like Pentatonix. Later she finds out that her ex-husband has died via television news but she is unmoved by the news. The newscaster reads copy stating that Deborah burned down his house decades ago after he left her for her sister. When her workaholic COO Marcus asks if she'd like to take the night off, she declines.[1][2]

Ava Daniels is a confident yet arrogant 25-year-old television writer working in Los Angeles. She's reeling from significant backlash after Tweeting a joke about a conservative congressman's gay son. She's been fired from her job and her manager, Jimmy, informs her that her only option is to go work for Deborah Vance, another client of his.

With no other choice, Ava flies to Vegas to meet Deborah, who does not want to work with a writer because she has always written her own material. After Deborah dresses Ava down for not having prepared for the meeting, they trade insults and Ava leaves. However, Deborah chases after her and begins to workshop the joke that upended Ava's career. They tweak the joke until they are both satisfied and Deborah tells Ava she's hired.[1]



Guest stars


"There Is No Line" was written by show creators Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, and Jen Statsky, and directed by Aniello.[3] The creators conceived of the idea for Hacks during a road trip to Portland in 2016. In an interview for Collider, Aniello said that the show aims to highlight the work of women trailblazers in comedy whose contributions have been minimized or who have experienced mistreatment by the media.[4] It was shot in Los Angeles with some exterior shots on-location in Las Vegas.[4]

The episode was released on HBO Max on May 13, 2021.[5]

Critical reception

The episode received positive reception. Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder were each hailed for their acting. Glen Weldon wrote for NPR of Smart's performance, "I don't know if the role of Deborah Vance was written for Smart, but she certainly makes it seem like it was. Moments that could be played for unkind laughs...are instead played for their humanity and vulnerability. As a result, the payoffs prove infinitely more satisfying."[6] Einbinder also received praise from Kristen Baldwin of EW: "Einbinder, an L.A.-based stand-up comic tackling her first leading role, is immensely appealing as Ava. With her precision timing and bored California drawl, the actress brings such compelling confidence to her entitled, condescending character that it's all the more effective when Ava finally begins to face some hard truths about herself."[7]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2021 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Lucia Aniello Won [8]
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs and Jen Statsky Won
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Contemporary Costumes Kathleen Felix-Hager and Karen Bellamy Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series Jessica Brunetto Nominated
2022 American Society of Cinematographers Awards Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in an Episode of a Half-Hour Television Series Adam Bricker Nominated [9]
Costume Designers Guild Awards Excellence in Contemporary Television Kathleen Felix-Hager Nominated [10]
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy Series Lucia Aniello Won [11]
Golden Reel Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – 1/2 Hour – Comedy or Drama Brett Hinton, Marc Glassman, Ryne Gierke, Samuel Munoz, Noel Vought, Jason Tregoe, and Newman Won [12]


  1. ^ a b Chaney, Jen (May 12, 2021). "Give Jean Smart All the Awards for Hacks". Vulture. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  2. ^ Caruso, Nick (May 13, 2021). "Hacks Premiere: Jean Smart Takes On the Misogynist World of Stand-Up in HBO Max's Latest Comedy — Grade It!". TVLine. Retrieved September 20, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Fleming, Ryan (August 2, 2021). "It Starts On The Page: Read The Emmy-Nominated Script For 'Hacks' & A Q&A With Writers". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 20, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b "'Hacks' Creators on the HBO Max Comedy's Origins and Why Jean Smart Was the First Choice". Collider. May 27, 2021. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  5. ^ Simon, Scott (May 8, 2021). "HBO's 'Hacks' Unites Two Struggling Comedians". NPR.org. Retrieved September 20, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Weldon, Glen. "'Hacks': A Comedic Generational Divide Gets Bridged, (Jean) Smartly". NPR.org. Retrieved September 20, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Baldwin, Kristen. "Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder kill as comedians at odds in 'Hacks'". EW.com. Retrieved September 20, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "Hacks". Emmys.com. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  9. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 25, 2022). "ASC Awards Nominations Include 'Dune', 'Nightmare Alley', 'Belfast'". Deadline. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  10. ^ Hipes, Patrick (January 26, 2022). "Costume Designers Guild Awards Nominees Include 'House Of Gucci', 'Cruella', 'Zola'". Deadline. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  11. ^ Lewis, Tyler Coates,Hilary; Coates, Tyler; Lewis, Hilary (January 26, 2022). "DGA Awards: 'Succession' Dominates Drama Series Nominees; 'Summer of Soul' and 'The Rescue' Up for Documentary Prize". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  12. ^ Pedersen, Erik (January 24, 2022). "Golden Reel Awards: Sound Editors Crank Up Nominations For 69th Annual Ceremony". Deadline. Retrieved February 19, 2022.