‘Hacks’ creators Jen Statsky and Paul W. Downs on their Emmy-nominated comedy series

Hosted by

Jen Statsky, Lucia Aniello, and Paul W. Downs created the Emmy-nominated series “Hacks” on HBO Max. Photo by Todd Williamson/Universal Television/HBO Max.

The HBO Max series “Hacks” showcases Jean Smart as a veteran comedian who gets paired up with a much younger writer in an effort to update her material and hopefully hold on to her long-running stage show in Las Vegas. 

In real life, Smart also wanted the show to go on, even when her husband died unexpectedly with a week of shooting left. The showrunners were prepared to shut down indefinitely. But she insisted that the cameras keep rolling.

“Hacks” co-creator Paul W. Downs jokes that Smart was so committed to the show that she “wanted to do all her own stunts.”

So when things got difficult on set, Downs says they took their cues from Smart and kept filming. 

Downs and Jen Statsky, who created the series along with Lucia Aniello, tell KCRW about pitching “Hacks” to HBO Max before the streamer even had a name. Now “Hacks” is up for 15 Emmy nominations, including for Outstanding Comedy Series.



Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker