Who’s laughing now? Barry is game-changing TV with a point to prove

This article is about the season three finale of barry.

HBO’s third season barry (Foxtel On Demand), Bill Hader’s dark comedy about a disgruntled hitman trying to transform himself into a budding Hollywood actor, was a transformative television experience. Too often, we want, consciously or unconsciously, our favorite shows to resonate with us but not fundamentally change. We need the guardrails to hold the series in place, to keep us engaged but also reassured. barry didn’t just subvert that idea, he weaponized it. The troubling elements that had slowly taken root in previous seasons finally took over.

Created by Hader, the Saturday Night Live polymath, and Alec Berg, collaborator of Calm your enthusiasm and Silicon Valley, barry was always a delicious disappointment. Absurdity knocked you off balance, one step behind the vibe and one layer removed from the real Barry (Hader). Behind an acting class target led by Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), the ex-Marine was a terrible comedian – it wasn’t until he spoke honestly about how he’d killed people, that this whether in Afghanistan or America he was acclaimed for a worthy performance.

Bill Hader plays a disgruntled hitman who gets a makeover as a (bad) Hollywood actor in the dark comedy Barry.Credit:HBO/Foxtel

Violence is the show’s motto, but it’s never been easy to categorize. Like the least inspired crime dramas, the murders happened with abrupt ease. Hader’s Barry Berkman — his stage name is Barry Block — would be baffled by both the people he was hired for and his own lack of reaction. Was it ridiculous or tragic that Barry went from one murder to the next, ignoring the trauma he brought back from the war and how it damaged him? Laughing, the show’s first season suggested, might be the surest answer.

But in three seasons, that comedic detachment slowly faded away. A way to watch barry it was about the ramifications of your heinous acts catching up with you. With each batch, the pace quickened and the impact intensified. In season one, when Barry stayed behind to take Cousineau’s class, he must have heard the father of a murdered student express his deep grief; by season three, the families of various victims were pursuing Barry for revenge, and his loved ones had been indelibly scarred by his actions.

Somehow, Hader and Berg contrasted this with entertainment industry satire and biting gags. A source of comic relief was a Chechen mobster, Noho Hank (Anthony Carrigan), who had fallen in love with the Los Angeles lifestyle. But the more Barry tried to leave his life as a hitman behind, the more he simply infected those who attracted him. Hoping to let go of his manipulative fixer, Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root), Barry transferred his respect and affection to Cousineau. Yet by the end of the show’s first season, Barry had killed someone the veteran actor loved.

While tracking a target, Barry is led to the acting class run by Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler).

While tracking a target, Barry is led to the acting class run by Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler).Credit:Warrick Page/HBO

No one has fallen deeper into Barry’s world than Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg), another theater student who had her own buried trauma. Pursued by Barry, she became his girlfriend even as her talent shone through. But when her TV show was torpedoed, Sally spun out of control, embracing the violence Barry carried within him and finally venting it in a cathartic scene in the final episode where she fought for her life, then brutally got it. took another. “Barry did that,” Barry coached her afterward — he thought he was protecting her, but it was the truth.

As the narration became darker – the laughs, always cleverly orchestrated, concealed less and less – the visual language of barry became richer and more pronounced. The third season, with Hader and Berg directing each episode between them, might be the closest we’ve ever gotten to a Coen Brothers series, with bursts of dreamlike logic and deadpan action sequences. At one point, a suburban street simply turned into a beach, a step away from reality that kind of served to focus Barry’s journey.

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