Jean Smart got a standing ovation when she won her Emmy. No surprise, she’s been on an amazing upswing for years, from Fargo to Watchmen to here – which includes not only Hacks but another whole nomination for Mare of Easttown! She’s an utter pro and a joy to watch. 


And I was struck by the things Jean Smart can do that her character Deborah Vance can’t, though Vance is arguably more successful and wealthier. Smart walks up and opens with an incredibly vulnerable reveal, that she lost her husband six months ago. But Deborah, whose story began when creators Lucia Aniello, Paul Downs, and Jen Statsky started contemplating “all those women who had been pushed out of the business” doesn’t have that luxury, to be vulnerable and know it’ll be seen as a strength. 

I wonder a lot about Jean Smart. She’s always worked, but there are whole decades where I don’t think she was getting prestige projects and feeling seen and heard. I wonder about the mental fortitude it takes to keep going, and how you make a show like Hacks work if you haven’t figured that out? If you don’t know where to put your energy in the down times? Is that knowledge, that sort of inner-peace-I-don’t-run-on-Hollywood’s-time what makes her such a great, self-possessed performer? Did Aniello, Downs, and Statsky just happen to hit the leading-actress jackpot in a way that meant more to their series than maybe any other role, on any show? 


Like, if Jean Smart has it all figured out, and she does (there’s no way she goes to In-n-Out after the Emmys, you know she has a secret spot somewhere and they have her order waiting), what is she going to do next? I mean, Hacks is so much dark, cynical fun, and the fact that Ava annoys me so deeply means that Hannah Einbinder is really great at her job. But I also wouldn’t be surprised to discover Jean Smart playing a big biopic person we haven’t yet re-examined, or playing a bounty hunter or some other role originally written for someone 25 years ago, until some smart person said “what you need here is Jean Smart”. 

After all, when all the popular tables want you, that’s when you stop having to play by any rules…

Here’s Jean celebrating with the people she called her “Easttown family”: