Like any great road trip flick, “Hacks” realized in its second season that the best way to force its characters to work out their issues is to shove them into a tiny bus.

With Deborah Vance (Jean Smart) trying to rebuild her stand-up career from the ground up after losing her Vegas residency, the new season, which premiered Thursday on HBO Max, sees her and her team, including writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder), COO Marcus (Carl Clemons-Hopkins) and personal assistant Damien (Mark Indelicato) hit the road to perfect a new set.

“The Deborah Vance Machine,” as Indelicato dubbed it, is messy, made up of four big, often clashing personalities, particularly as they deal with the fallout of Ava’s last season rash email to a group of producers with a harsh revealing of Deborah’s greatest faults.

“It’s either going to work or you’ve gotta get off the bus,” Clemons-Hopkins told the Daily News. “It’s an interesting balance of four very different people with a common goal of keeping this machine going.”

Back home in Los Angeles are agent Jimmy (Paul W. Downs) and his assistant Kayla (Meg Stalter), holding down the fort and dealing with their own HR disaster after Kayla’s misguided seduction attempt.

“They’re an odd couple who can drive each other crazy and they do butt heads, but at the end of the day, they have each other’s backs,” Downs, who also serves as a showrunner, told The News. “They have history and a love for each other and they have to live with each other.”

Deborah and Ava are trying to reinvent themselves. Jimmy and Kayla are trying to make a name for themselves. Marcus and Damien are trying to find purpose. And beneath the jokes, often cruel, there’s a sweetness to “Hacks” in a group of people who realize how much they need each other, even if they won’t say it out loud.

“I don’t think we’ve seen enough love stories about friends, just true friendships,” Stalter told The News.

“Everyone wants to see sex and kissing. I want to see friends who love each other and are accepting of each other.”


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