Floundering not that long ago, HBO Max has found its groove.
On Tuesday, the 1-year-old subscription streaming platform gave a season 2 renewal to its third--and perhaps biggest--original series hit, the multigenerational female buddy comedy Hacks.
Casting Jean Smart as aging Las Vegas comedy icon Deborah Vance, reluctantly yet inextricably paired with the angsty young writer she's mentoring, Ava (played by Hannah Einbinder), Hacks has debuted to a statistically uncertain audience reception since HBO Max started posting two episodes weekly back on May 13.
Nielsen releases weekly top 10 rankings of the top shows on the four biggest U.S. SVOD services, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney Plus. HBO added 2.7 million U.S. subscribers in the first quarter. But the number of those customers who had converted to the IP-delivered HBO Max service was still hovering below 20 million at that point, rendering WarnerMedia's SVOD a little to small for Nielsen to arbitrate among the platform giants.
But that could change soon, with HBO Max fully distributed, more affordably priced with a a new ad-supported version, newly merged with Discovery, and expanding internationally.
Via Twitter and other cultural measuring devices (like a 100% "fresh" score on critics aggregation platform Rotten Tomatoes), we do know that Hacks' buzz is at least on par with HBO Max's other recent watercooler hit, Kate Winslet-led, recently wrapped limited-series melodrama Mare of Easttown.
HBO Max also scored earlier with another critically acclaimed female-driven comedy (albeit one with darker thematic overtones), Flight Attendant starring Kelly Cuoco.
The 10-episode series, which wraps season 1 Thursday, was created and is show-run by the trio of Lucia Aniello, Jen Statsky and Paul W. Downs, the latter of which plays the recurring role of Ava's manager in Hacks, Jimmy.
TV creative veteran Mike Schur (The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Master of None) serves as executive producer.
Notably, in what could be interpreted as a blow to NBCUniversal's still-struggling Peacock platform, the production is housed by Universal Television.
“We knew immediately that Lucia, Paul and Jen brought us a winner,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max, in a statement. “We couldn’t be happier about the tremendous response from our viewers and critics alike, and we salute the executive producers; Jean, Hannah and the rest of the brilliant cast; and our partners at Universal.”
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