With the abundance of good television that is on right now, finding the right show to watch can be overwhelming. Between network television and streaming services it seems as if the choices are endless. With this in mind, there is a show that you probably missed that you should most certainly be watching. In late March, HBO released Barry rather quietly. It got a lot of attention from critics and was very well received by those critics but unfortunately it couldn’t move the cultural needle. This is unfortunate because Barry is one of the best TV shows of 2018. There is no doubt that Barry will be represented heavily all throughout television’s award season.
Barry is about a hitman from the midwest that moves to Los Angeles to do a job. While in LA he gets caught up with the mob and the LA theatre scene. He falls in love with acting and tries to stop being a hitman to pursue acting. This is an original premise that the show has a lot of fun with. The juxtaposition of acting and being a hitman is odd but also funny. This premise also allows for a lot of good character development which is a strong element of this show. You go on a journey with Barry, while at times it is a strange journey it is also a very fun one.
4 Reasons you should watch Barry
1. Bill Hader
Bill Hader might not be a household name but he should be. He is probably most known for his work on Saturday Night Live but he has been doing great work all over television and movies for years. Playing Barry is the best that I have seen him. He brings so much nuance and relatability to a character that you would never expect to relate to. His character wrestles with his profession, how good he is at it and what that says about him. He plays it so well that his character becomes sympathetic and someone that you are rooting for by the end of the season. This is a bit of a different role for him because he basically plays the straight man. Funny things are happening around him but he isn’t delivering the jokes. As funny as Hader is, this seems like a risky play but he pulls it off great, showing that he is much more than a comedic actor. Hader isn’t just great in front of the camera either, he has his hands in just about every aspect of this show. He co-created it, co-wrote it and directed a couple of episodes. Barry shows how great of a talent Bill Hader is and seeing his talent on display is, itself, worth the watch.
2. The Supporting Cast
Bill Hader may be the top billed star of Barry but he alone isn’t the star. The supporting cast for this show is nothing short of incredible. There are a few familiar names in the cast: Henry Winkler as Gene Cousineau, the theater teacher, and Stephen Root as Monroe Fuches, Barry’s partner. They did a great job which isn’t much of a surprise because they are great actors. The breakthrough stars are the ones that push Barry to the next level. Sarah Goldberg and Anthony Carrigan stole the show. Carrigan played NoHo Hank, which is supposed to be this crime underboss type character that Carrigan completely flips on its head. Normally this character is an ultra serious type who is trying to prove himself; Carrigan plays this almost the exact opposite. While Hank is definitely trying to prove himself, all of the seriousness is taken out of him. This is by far the funniest character in the show. Carrigan really dominates the screen with his humor and delivery. Between offering everyone a submarine sandwich, and sending serious but very awkward texts to Barry, Carrigan kept the show fun. Goldberg, on the other hand, played a different role on the show; she played what is typically the “love interest” character, Sally Reed. Goldberg was able to bring a whole new take to this type of character as well, which in turn freshened up the whole story. She was Barry’s love interest but the independence that Goldberg brought to the character made her something entirely separate from that. Sally has a life of her own and ambitions of her own. She goes on her own arc, which was a very interesting one and all along the way Goldberg gave an incredible performance. She was able to show the agony and the simple joys that come from trying to become an actor. Sally is a huge reason why this show is so great and smart, this character doesn’t exist a whole lot on TV but Barry shows us this character and Sarah Goldberg made her real. The supporting cast is one of the strongest elements of this show and it’s their excellence that rounds out this show and make it one of the best on TV.
3. The Writing
In order for a show to be truly great it has to be well written. The writing for Barry is divided between Bill Hader, Alec Berg (who also co-created the show), Hiro Murai and Maggie Carey. Each understood the story that they wanted to tell and each did a great job developing characters, which is the driving force behind the show’s greatness. There was time spent on the characters so a strong connection could be established with them. They were able to walk the thin line of making sure their show was being taken seriously but not too serious. Anytime there was something serious happening it was cut with humor, which was disarming in a good way. It was also unconventional. Obviously the story is an unconventional one but the way it was delivered was also unconventional. All of the theatre scenes were incredibly odd and not at all how they are normally portrayed. The mob that Barry is working with are the funniest characters in the show, which isn’t how they are normally portrayed. This left me a bit off balance but in a good way. I had to buy in and once I did, I was taken on a ride.
4. Time Commitment
I feel like this is the best selling point of the show. As I stated earlier, there are a ton of good shows on TV. The last thing that puts Barry over the top and should place it on your “must watch” list, is that it’s only eight, 30 minute episodes. As far as binge watching goes, this is something that could be easily knocked out over the course of the weekend or even in a day. The short run time feels even shorter because the show is so good and so much fun which never makes it a chore to watch.
Season 1 of Barry is streaming now on HBO.