Recently, I was one of those really obnoxious people who caught onto a show right before the second season starts. One such show is HBO’s Barry which is not only lead by SNL alum Bill Hader, but written and (sometimes) directed by him as well.
Eight episodes – I won’t be spoiling anything here, truly, but what I need to remind you guys of is that most television shows both on network or through streamers like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have so many episodes per season that take you forever to catch up. Barry has eight episodes in its first season with a typical runtime of 30 minutes each. It’s nothing. Do you have four hours to spare through an entire week? You can catch up. Need enticing? Let’s start with the first season’s trailer.
So, to give you a better idea of what’s going down here — Bill Hader plays Barry Berkman who comes fresh out of the military into an accidental life of being a hitman. Through friends of his family or even people he was deployed with, he stumbled upon a job where a rather unsavory ‘pal‘ of his convinced him he was taking hits on ‘bad people‘ rather than just whoever paid. It starts to become problematic for him once one of his hits puts him at the doorstep of an acting class. Upon meeting Henry Winkler’s acting coach, Gene Cousineau, he becomes obsessed with this new ‘purpose’ of his. (Note: Check this video Vulture came out with a video on Hader casting Henry Winkler in Barry. It’s amazing.)
This purpose comes in the form of taking classes when he doesn’t quite realize people aren’t being genuine about his ‘talents‘ and essentially just want another person to kind of sink-or-swim with their group. Within this, you find Barry attempt to navigate getting out of his old life while forming a new one but never quite able to shake the killer’s world. It’s a black comedy in the purest sense of the art, mind you, because most can oversaturate one thing or the other. The darkness usually outweighs the comedic moments or the comedy never quite touches the shadows, but Barry isn’t like that. Thanks to Bill Hader and his team’s impressive writing and the acting chops of both himself and Henry Winkler, Barry always stays flush in the middle. You will have moments of clutching your mouth, teary-eyed and sympathetic to Barry and others where you’re waving your arms as if to stop his advances because you know it will end in pain.
This all happened for me within eight freaking episodes, guys. It was a rollercoaster that most shows need a full hour and ten, at the least, episodes to manage and Barry does it within four hours of your time. Now, Season Two literally just launched this past Sunday so we’re at nine episodes currently – you can totally catch up and even begin the following season! Trust me, that season finale of one is going to have you leaping to the current season’s opener FAST because it had me reeling. HBO is getting braver and braver with their varied shows, formats and themes and Barry just kind of proves that HBO doesn’t need to compete with every other service out there – they started this and they still run this game. Taking a chance on Bill Hader as a lead, a director and writer for a show that has resulted in ten award wins and nearly thirty nominations already? It’s no fluke. If you’re still not convinced, let Hader explain a bit more with Seth Meyers, because it has a wacky premise, sure, but it just makes so much sense.
This show will tick a lot of boxes and I’m excited to see how many of you start in on this ASAP and come with me into the second season. Sure, we’ve got Game of Thrones coming back here shortly, but why not add another rad show to the Sunday viewing party, eh? Actor-assassins and dragons are a great combo.