Putting a spotlight on HBO’s Barry! By Jre Best
I think it’s fair to say that HBO might be one of the most influential forces and television ever. Their commitment to long-form high production values storytelling has changed the entire industry; without shows like the Sopranos or The Wire, you wouldn’t get things like Breaking Bad or the slew of original programming on all your favorite streaming networks. Currently, HBO is airing the 8th season of GoT (Game of Thrones) which is currently ruling the pop culture discourse. But while the network’s headlining program is going on I figured I’d take the time to put a spotlight on a show that’s the second season is also airing on HBO right now, that some might not be aware of. That is the heartbreaking comedy-drama, Barry.
Barry follows the titular character, played by Bill Hader, a veteran who’s been working the contract killer life since his exit from the marines. Barry’s feeling unfulfilled by his life as a contract killer but he does it anyway, mainly because he doesn’t know what else he would do and his uncle Monroe Fuches, played by Stephen Root, encourages it. On a routine hit and through some shenanigans Barry ends up on the stage of an acting class working with the guy he’s been hired to kill. It’s at that moment Barry realizes his true passion in life is acting and the rest of the show sees him trying to escape his wife as a killer to pursue his dreams.
The show’s concept is a fittingly killer taking the typical person quits their boring secure job for risky passionate one, and twisting it to a comedically dark premise. The show takes full advantage of an unconventional set up, starting off with a unique but not especially threatening dark comedy tone. And that’s a good thing because when Barry wants to be it is one of the funniest shows airing, being able to play off the experiences of a young actor and a professional killer to craft some bitterly gut-busting jokes. But as the show progresses through its first season and Barry’s attempts to leave his violent past life gets more desperate and unsuccessful the joke slow down and the very serious pain all the characters are feelings starts to settle in the viewer’s mind. Don’t let its comedy fool you when Barry wants to get serious it can be almost brutal to watch as the comedically likable characters make the tragedy even more upsetting.
Barry has quickly become one of my favorite shows being wildly funny at one point and heartbreakingly somber the other, telling a beautifully self-contained story in its first season. And with Barry’s second season airing right now I don’t want it to get lost in all the GoT hype. Grab your tickets, grab your tissues and watch Barry take center stage.