In April of 2018, HBO released a new crime series, “Barry,” starring Bill Hader as Barry. Like most crime shows, “Barry” features dark characters and maintains a constant, nagging feeling of suspense and tension. But one crucial aspect of “Barry” sets it apart from the other shows in its genre. Throughout all of the murders, cover-ups and dealings with the mafia, there remains a constant comedic edge. Instead of a one-dimensional antagonist who’s main character trait is “evil,” the bad guys in Barry are hilarious to the point where they become somewhat lovable. Barry stakes claim to possibly the only crime show where the audience roots for both the conflicted, awkward protagonist Barry, and his enemies.
The show takes off when Barry Berkman moves to California to complete his mission as a hired hitman. He’s working for Monroe Fuches (played by Stephen Root), a family friend who took Barry under his wing when he returned from serving in Vietnam, likely coping with PTSD and feeling like the only thing he was good at was killing people. One day Barry follows his target into an acting class, and discovers that he really enjoys acting. Although he’s painfully horrible at acting, he views it as a possible future where he never has to murder again. Ditching his hitman job, however, proves to be more complicated and messy than expected. Instead of walking away, Barry falls even deeper into the pit of a job he can’t seem to escape.
Barry continues to attend the acting class while simultaneously hiding his dark profession from his new group. The acting teacher, Gene Cousineau (played by Henry Winkler), is a confident, somewhat self-centered acting master who never hesitates to push students to their breaking point while they’re on the stage. The rest of the acting class is a group of young Los Angeles actors struggling to find work. The writers seize every opportunity to make fun of stereotypical actors, and while the characters are sometimes overplayed, it is always amusing to watch what unfolds on the stage and in interactions outside of class.
Season two of Barry was released on March 31 this year, and just two weeks after that it was renewed for season three, which is currently under production. Heavy crime shows often grow monotonous and bleak with no break from the drama, but Barry takes a satirical stance on these crime shows by including goofy mafia leaders and unexpected dialogue in serious situations. In the midst of worrying about whether Barry will get caught, there’s constant laughs that make the show more uplifting and refreshing to watch. If you haven’t already watched Barry, you’ve still got plenty of time to catch up before the release of season three.