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Barry Review: Is It Worth A Watch?

Poster for the show, Barry
Poster for the show, Barry

Barry is an American dark comedy show that premiered first on HBO on March 25th, 2018. Produced by Alec Berg and Bill Hader, the show is also available for streaming on Disney+Hotstar.

The show, Barry, is about a depressed and mediocre hitman who finds himself on duty in the mid-west. All the while, he is questioning his life and how he comes across a hopeful bunch of people that bring him back on the right track.

Barry stars actor Bill Hader who we saw in Men in Black, It, and It Chapter Two as the hitman Barry Berkman. Canadian actress Sarah Goldberg plays Sally Reed, an aspiring actress and Barry’s romantic interest in the show.

Anthony Carrigan, who we know from Gotham and The Undying, along with Stephen Root, who is popular for his roles in Get Out and The Empty, and so many more, as NoHo Hank and Monroe Fuches, Barry’s fellow criminals. The show has a vast cast of stars playing different recurrent roles.

Bill Hader as Barry in the show, Barry

Bill Hader as Barry in the show, Barry

Since its release in 2018, the show has put out three seasons and has also been renewed for a fourth season. The show falls under the dark comedy, crime, and drama genres and has received a lot of praise for managing to do them all justice.

Barry Storyline

The story introduces Barry as a US marine and a war veteran who has seen things that have scarred him for life. He is depressed and has turned to using his training to get paid to kill people. He is hired to deal with an actor who is apparently involved with a gangster’s wife. So, Barry finds himself in Los Angeles among a group of aspiring actors, full of life and hopeful.

The influence of these people is such that it makes Barry want to throw away his old dark life and become an artist himself. This is obviously not easy, and throughout his ventures, his criminal past creeps up into his present life, much to his dismay.

Sally Reed, played by Sarah Goldberg, is an aspiring actress, extremely talented, and in the same acting class as Barry, the assassin. Throughout the show, they get involved romantically even though their relationship turns out to be toxic and distressing for them both. 

NoHo Hank, contrary to his occupation of being a part of the mafia, is cheerful and naive. He goes from being the leader’s right-hand man to the actual leader of the entire gang, a position he struggles with, considering he is not very aggressive and dominating in nature. 

Monroe Fuches, the very opposite of NoHo Hank, is an old friend of Barry’s. He is manipulating, selfish, and constantly on the lookout for money and control. Goran Pazar is the mafia leader of the Chechen gang and also the one who sent Barry to Los Angeles.

Season one of the show Barry focuses more on exploring Barry, the character, and how he finds himself among a bunch of aspiring actors. While he is in Los Angeles, he becomes a part of the acting group in disguise, where he ends up meeting Sally Reed. 

He fails to kill the man he is after and instead finds himself in conflict with the gang that had hired him in the first place. He manages to escape all their efforts to get him killed and is once again employed by the same gang, by  NoHo Hank this time, to kill another guy called Paco. 

The actor that Barry was supposed to kill eventually gets killed by one of the Chechen gang members. His death cues a series of mental health issues for Barry. He feels guilt and anxiety and realizes he does not want to do the getting-hired-to-kill-people job anymore.

This causes internal conflict within Barry, and while this is happening, another aspect of his life also faces some changes. His relationship with Sally also transforms, and they hook up finally. Some more events take place, and Sally finds herself in a poor position professionally. 

Barry finds it difficult to leave his past, as no matter what he does, it always catches up to him. He faces problems with Sally, and they decide to take a break from their relationship. He ends up confessing to his criminal past in one of his acting classes, which he now attends religiously, but the others just see it as a misconstrued memory from his war days.

Bill Hader and Henry Winkler together in the show Barry

Bill Hader and Henry Winkler together in the show Barry

Unlike what Barry wanted, he remains involved in the hitman ordeal and ends up killing a whole other gang. The season ends with Barry killing one detective, Moss, who figured out that Barry is a hitman and the reason behind many killings, and Barry and Sally start dating again.

Season two picks up with everybody assuming Detective Moss to be alive but missing. No one but the audience knows what went down between Moss and Barry. Barry continues to claim that he is done with gangs, mafias, and hurting people. But by now, we all know that is not true.

Barry and Sally are still together and Barry seems like his mental health problems are actually helping him ace his acting classes. He still struggles with nightmares and has trouble avoiding his past. Fuches is out to get Barry and collaborates with the police to get him to confess to Moss’ murder. And now Hank, part of the mafia after all, also wants Barry dead.

Both Sally and Barry reveal their traumatic pasts in the acting class. Through some events, Barry ends up confessing to Moss’ murder in front of another Detective, Loach. He still doesn’t get arrested. Sally, on the other hand, catches the eyes of a talent agency, and she finally gets the chance she’s been waiting for. 

Barry continues to struggle with getting away from Hank and Fuches, but it’s clearly not that easy. The acting teacher, Cousineau, is somehow trapped as the perpetrator in Moss’ murder, courtesy of Fuches. Hank and Fuches join hands and build one big gang. This angers Barry, and he does what he does best. He practically shoots down the entire gang.

The second season wraps with Cousineau, the acting teacher, being let go because the police find a Chechen gang pin with the body. Just as we think all is finally done and resolved, the camera pans towards Cousineau remembering Fuches telling him that it is Barry Berkman who killed detective Moss.

Season three opens with Barry realizing that trying to live two lives would not be that easy after all. On the one hand, he is still out and about killing people and keeping up with his hitman job, clearly failing at being able to leave that dark past, and on the other hand, he is still in a monotonous relationship with Sally.

For Sally, things could not be better in her successful professional life. Cousineau confronts Barry about Moss’ death but ends up firing back and him begging Barry to let him go. The audience is convinced that Barry will probably never pay for what he did when he was going around shooting people, and the writers think this to be the best time to break all hell loose onto Barry.

Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank in the show Barry

Karma seems to strike him hard, with Sally breaking up with him and him getting poisoned by one of the loved ones of the people he killed Fuches betrays Barry big time by telling the police everything about his criminal past. Barry obviously doesn’t die. A lot of confrontation between different characters takes place.

Barry is seen talking to Sally on the phone, and their relationship is slightly mended. He tells her things from his past life, skipping the part where he has a hitman. Alongside this, Cousineau has laid a trap for Barry, and he ends up getting arrested. The show wraps up with the viewers assuming that Barry will finally pay for all the wrongs he has done. The show has been renewed for season 4, and it is yet to be released.

Barry Review

The show Barry has been directed by Alec Berg and Bill Hader, who has also acted in the show as Barry Berkman himself. Since its release, the show has received a lot in terms of critical acclaim, awards, and nominations. Even with just one season out and then being on a hiatus, the show has found for itself a devoted fanbase.

The show takes dark turns when discussing Barry and his heavy past but also easily switches gears to satire when Barry reaches his acting class and meets people from the show business. Sure, we have seen male leads in the past trying to get away from their dirty past lives and turning a new page in their life.

But the fact that Barry uses his past trauma from war and being a hitman to make it as an actor is totally new and fresh. It helps the show become a perfect dark comedy crime series.

The gory violence used in this dark comedy, along with its many twists and turns, keeps the audience on their toes. The show has so much happening in it that it is impossible to guess what direction the makers will go in next. It flows smoothly from dark to intense to hilarious to sad.

Where Bill Hader had a comparatively easy job playing the heavily traumatized veteran turned hitman, it is interesting to see Sally Reed, by Sarah Goldberg, caught up in the mafia business, completely unaware, looking only in the direction of her life’s goal. The mafia stuff is surely intense and has depth, but Sarah Goldberg has managed to keep the audience engaged and involved thoroughly during her scenes.

Every time we think Barry will move on from his past life of crime, he ends up shooting somebody point blank with such ease it makes the viewers question the next time he vows never to turn back.

It is very easy for such shows to lose either their intense, dark side or become slippery with the kind of comedy they want to do. But Barrey has managed to have a tight grasp on both genres. It does not lose depth in its violent and gruesome storyline and comedic arc. The show is just as hysterical as it is intense.

The best part of any show is its characters, and this is so true for the show Barry. It is refreshing to see how no character or character arc is one-dimensional. No character can be defined as just ‘good’ or ‘bad.’

Barry is a prime example of this, but even apart from Bill Hader’s character, Sarah Goldberg is phenomenal when it comes to playing Sally Reed. She is a ‘nice’ woman for sure, but she is also ambitious, self-centered, and jealous of and in love with Barry.

Sarah Goldberg and Bill Hader in the show Barry

Sarah Goldberg and Bill Hader in the show Barry

Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank is also wonderful. He is innocent, and using violence is not his first thought, even though he is an important part of the Chechen gang. In the later seasons, he is forced to do bad things, but that also does not make him outright ‘a bad guy’. Another character that is a treat to the eyes is Gene Cousineau, by Henry Winkler.

He is an acting teacher who is completely self-absorbed and barely helps his students unless he gets something in return. As unconcerned as he may look on the outside, he is also completely capable of taking a stand for himself and getting revenge if need be.

His character development through the second half of season two and the entire third season is something to look out for. No character can be put in one box, they are morally grey in nature, and this gives them a human touch.

Our Verdict

Barry has some really cool and well-crafted fight scenes that make the watchers question how the makers managed to pull off both action and comedy together so well. The way Barry manages to swing between themes and the way the character arcs for a lot of the character’s progresses keeps us at the edge of our seats. 

The show has effortlessly managed to make us love and sympathize with the characters but also hate and despise them at the same time. With the way it has been, there are no doubts about the success of the fourth season of the show.

The show has full potential to grip its audience and keep them hooked and wanting more till the end. If you are looking for a long-term commitment that is actually worth getting into and waiting for, this show is definitely for you. No red flags, just pure entertainment. 

Our Rating: ⭐ (4/5)..

Also Read: Barry Season 4: Know The Cast And Plot of the Series

Written By

I am a content writer at OtakuKart. I live in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. I've done my Bachelor's in Psychology. In my free time I like to read books, watch movies and play badminton.

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