Why Hacks Co-Creator Paul W. Downs Wasn’t Afraid to Create a Comedic #MeToo Storyline

Jimmy may be Kayla’s boss on Hacks, but he has little power over her.

That was made abundantly clear in the two-episode premiere for season two, in which talent manager Jimmy (Paul W. Downs) enlists the help of human resources to punish assistant Kayla (Megan Stalter), who made a pass at him during a work trip. While most people would be let go for acting inappropriately with their boss, H.R. rep Barbara (Martha Kelly) reveals to Jimmy there isn’t much she can do, as Kayla is the daughter of the company’s owner.

The only solution? Jimmy must claim to have anger management issues in order to get Kayla removed from his desk.

Sadly, this fix doesn’t last long, as Kayla ends up back as Jimmy’s assistant thanks to her father’s interference.

While this plot may hit too close to home for some in Hollywood, Downs, who is also a co-creator of Hacks, revealed to E! News that the writers’ room makes sure they’re “never punching down” when it comes to writing jokes.

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“We’re really aware of the target of the joke,” he continued. “It wasn’t that big a consideration because it was so organic to the characters. It’s something that this wily assistant might do. And so, that was something that we didn’t really worry about too much, to be honest.”

“This is not to say that men can’t be the victims of predatory behavior,” Downs added later on. “They absolutely can. Gender is a construct. But I do think because of the power dynamic, it’s a really interesting thing.”

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Stalter, who joined Downs for the interview, defended that Kayla was just “reading the energy,” adding, “She wasn’t like, ‘We have to hook up!’ She was like, ‘Are we hooking up?'”

“I think she’s about vibes,” she explained. “And she thought she caught a vibe and she’s wrong. I don’t think she could possibly look at herself and be like, ‘I came on to my boss.’ I think she was like, ‘Me and my friend were about to hook up.'”

So, what’s next for the rocky duo? Downs teased that Jimmy and Kayla “do find themselves together in a new way.”

Catch new episodes of Hacks Thursdays on HBO Max.

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