THE ARTIST | Smart jeans
THE SHOW | HBO Max Hacks
THE EPISODE | “I think she will” (June 10, 2021)
THE PERFORMANCE | It didn’t seem Hacks‘The comedic and curious Deborah Vance would always play well, let alone befriend her near-pretentious new writer, Ava. But that’s what made the women’s brutal final fight so heartbreaking – and Smart’s performance so captivating.
In Episode 10, tensions peaked after Deborah found out that Ava had lied to her about a job interview. Smart turned his character’s feelings of betrayal into nonchalance… at first. When Ava took on the stand-up to bail out the new material the duo wrote for their last show in Vegas (which all focused on Deborah’s scandalous past), that’s when Smart went on a rampage. “You don’t risk anything… it’s my life! She screamed. “I don’t have to put on quite a show by dwelling on the past. I’m moving forward, ”she said with conviction.
In a shocking turn of events, Ava called her boss a hack, which prompted Deborah to slap her squarely. Smart then painted his expression with emotions ranging from sadness, regret and yes, anger, leaving us wondering if the character would continue to hide his hurt by rebuilding his harsh exterior.
Despite the episode’s dramatic thinness, Smart also displayed a tenderness that touched us. Deborah seemed almost reserved when she asked DJ if it was okay to discuss their personal lives on stage. The actress rightly changed her demeanor and tone, filling her eyes with love as she asked her daughter’s permission. Later, when Deborah flew to the funeral of Ava’s father, Smart was light-hearted when Ava needed it most, throwing sweet jokes to brighten up the grieving millennial, while also expressing heartfelt remorse for having hit her. And we rooted difficult for them to fix things.
Considering Deborah has endured endless sexism and sabotage on her way to the top, it’s safe to say that the actress is both confrontational and complicated at the same time. Still, Smart skillfully navigated the character’s stubbornness and depth, pulling back his layers of defense to go straight to Deborah’s heart. And we can’t wait to see her do it again.
HONORABLE MENTION | Mj Rodriguez has been a regular heartbeat of PoseBlanca’s full three seasons as an endlessly supported mother, and this week’s series finale gave her a well-deserved chance to shine. She was fierce as Blanca fought for non-white AIDS patients to be included in an experimental drug trial, she was tender as Blanca said her last goodbye to her friend Pray Tell and took on a new generation of children, and she was sensational in a stunning duet with Blanca and Pray Tell in triumphant lip sync on a Diana Ross classic. Like Blanca said, we might not all have a happy ending, but we do have “happy times” – and the times we spent watching Rodriguez play Blanca were really happy.
HONORABLE MENTION | With so many Manifestotwo-part finale revolving around the mysterious fate of young Cal, we needed to feel all a bit of her parents’ trauma – and with performances by Athena Karkanis and Josh Dallas, we certainly did. When Cal disappeared into midair in Eureka, even though the Stones have surely seen it all by now, Karkanis went all the way in Grace’s shock and despair, to the point that we shared the hole in her stomach. Likewise, when all that stood between Ben and may be recovering Cal was a Coast Guard captain by the rules, Dallas made a father feel the passionate pleas therefore real in the midst of this surreal story. It’s hard to be relatable under extraordinary circumstances, but Karkanis and Dallas combined for an emotional double.
What performance (s) struck you this week? Tell us in the comments!