Hacks Season 3 parents guide: Max’s comedy is (Jean) smarter than ever, and still not for kids

The critically acclaimed comedy is back on Max, and still one of the best shows on TV.
Jean Smart and Hannah Eindbinder start in ‘Hacks’ Season 2 for HBO Max. Photos by Karen Ballard
Jean Smart and Hannah Eindbinder start in ‘Hacks’ Season 2 for HBO Max. Photos by Karen Ballard /

The critically acclaimed comedy Hacks, starring Jean Smart and Hannah Einbender, is back for a third season on Max (formerly HBO Max) starting today. And you probably already know this, but this comedy about comedians ain’t for kids.

That said? It’s still a fantastic show, and maybe even looser, funnier, and even more deeply emotional in the third season than even the first two, also fantastic and award-winning seasons. Smart stars as Deborah Vance, an aging Vegas comedian who hires a canceled TV writer named Ava (Einbender) who thinks Vance is over-the-hill and a waste of her time. Over the course of two seasons, the duo find that not only do they spar and hurt each other, but they often challenge each other to be better people, as well.

The second season ended with Deborah releasing a comedy special that changed the world’s perception of her, and she finally released Ava from her obligations to spur her on to pursue her own career goals. It neatly wrapped things up – yet by the end of the two-episode premiere today on Max (new episodes will roll out two a week until the single episode finale on May 30, 2024), the duo are back together and arguably as toxic as ever.

Having seen the full season, we won’t go into spoilers here – there are still weeks of guest-star packed comedy to come – but we will explain what to expect in the new episodes on Max today, as well as throughout the nine episodes of Season 3.

Hacks Season 3 Parents Guide: Explaining The TV-MA Age Rating

Hacks is rated TV-MA, and if you’ve seen the first two seasons you know that’s for a lot of raunchy language – this is a show about comedians, after all – and some sexual situations, though mostly of the bra-on, fall-into-bed, fade to black variety. That changes dramatically with Season 3.

Sex & Nudity: Unlike the first two seasons, there is nudity in Hacks Season 3, so be aware. In the second episode, Einbender’s Ava is topless and having sex in a shower with her also topless girlfriend, Ruby (Lorenza Izzo), in an extended scene. Later in the episodes, topless women are glimpsed backstage at a (seriously) school benefit. And a man’s naked butt is seen pretty clearly towards the end of the season.

The sexual content otherwise is about the same as the first two seasons, with a lot of frank discussions, and several scenes of characters making out. A sequence with guest star Christina Hendricks and Einbender, glimpsed in the trailer, gets the closest to being graphic with some groping and furious kissing. There’s also a late in the season scene of the bra-on, fall into bed, fade to black variety mentioned earlier, in case you’re curious. 

Violence: Only the verbal kind, though one episode has two characters getting injured during a walk in the woods.

Language: Pervasive! Again, these are comedians, backstage and onstage, and there’s a ton of cursing and flowery language. One episode set at a roast includes the “C” word multiple times for comedic effect. And there are a lot of pointedly racist, sexist, and homophobic jokes thrown around, something the show deals with plot-wise in a smart and interesting way. But still, be aware they’re there.

Drinking & Drugs: Yes and yes. A little less on the drugs than the drinking front, though there’s some discussion about using drugs here and there. However, everyone drinks a lot, and multiple times both Ava and Deborah – as well as other characters – get extremely drunk, sometimes to the point of blacking out.

Overall Verdict: What Age Is Hacks Season 3 Appropriate For?

The TV-MA is very much appropriate for this show based on language and subject matter alone. And with the addition of nudity this season, it certainly takes things up a notch.

However! I will just say that as always, things vary from parent to parent, and while I’d be hesitant to tell my 14-year-old to go watch this when I was a comedy-obsessed teen I would have loved this show as an extremely accurate behind-the-scenes look at how comedy comes together. Heck, as a comedy obsessed adult, I also love and respect this show.

Point being, if you happen to have a mature teen who is extremely into the inner workings of comedy, wants to watch some fantastic performances, and you don’t mind a boob and sex scene every once in a while, you can probably fudge the 17 and up age rating down a little bit. I won’t tell, it’s okay. Hacks is just that darn good.

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