Barry eats a dessert while gazing into the distance on top of a hill.

Bill Hader as Barry Berkman. Image courtesy of HBO.

Barry: Bill Hader’s Fun, Silly and Scary Masterpiece Returns

After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic and lockdowns, HBO’s Barry, produced by Bill Hader who plays the titular character, returns.

Read our review here!

After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic and lockdowns, HBO’s Barry returns. Barry Berkman, a hitman turned actor is desperately trying to turn his life around. Working to seek forgiveness and redemption after years of killing people. Not a lot has changed, Barry still uses acting as a way of removing himself from his past. Unfortunately, acting hasn’t made him a better person and he is more rattled and emotionally disturbed than ever before. 

The new season opens with Barry working as a freelance hitman. At home, Sally (Sarah Goldberg), high off the success of her Broadway hit, becomes a showrunner and star of her own streaming series. Barry spends his time playing games and scrolling through the Hitman Marketplace to find new gigs.

Meanwhile, Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), Barry’s acting teacher learns that Barry killed his girlfriend. He tries to resolve the murder on his own, but his former pupil keeps a close eye on him. At the same time, Gene tries to find self-worth after years of bad behaviour.

Barry sits on the sofa and plays video games.
Bill Hader as Barry Berkman. Image courtesy of HBO.

For Barry, there really is no going back from the things that he has done in the past. He tries to get some purpose back into his life by going to see the Chechen gangster Noho Hank (Anthony Carrigan). Barry begs Hank to give him work to find some structure in his life. However, Hank refuses to help Barry. He is seeking a new way of life and quotes a line from Shawshank Redemption. He says with confidence: “Get rich or die trying.” It’s not a line from that movie. 

Berg and Hader use different genres, from comedy to crime thrillers, to incorporate concepts. That’s why Barry works so well with many audiences. “What I did was terrible, and I’m truly sorry,” Barry says while working on a scene with Gene. That line, without revealing too much, resonates with him as a hitman and the person he wishes to become. It also brings things up for Gene, who threw drinks at assistants and basically treated everyone around him badly. Both of these characters are trying to turn their lives around.

Sally and her co-star on the set of their series.
Sally Goldberg and Elsie Fisher in ‘Barry.’ Image courtesy of HBO.

On the other hand, Sally gets a taste of producing and writing her own show. Her storyline in this season is basically satire for networks like Netflix, which mainly depend on their audience for views. She’s trying to write a series based on her abusive relationship. That’s interesting because she fails to see the one right in front of her. In one episode, Barry barges into her place of work and lashes out at her. Her co-star, played by Elsie Fisher, is uncomfortable and tries to have him reported. The crew makes excuses for him instead. “He’s just having a bad day,” one of the crew members chimes in.

Since only six episodes have been available to view for press, there isn’t an episode that reaches the same level as season two’s “ronny/lily,” in which Barry fights a little girl with god-like martial arts abilities. However, in season three episode six has a fun and tense motorcycle chase through the LA highways and yet, hopefully, the remaining two episodes will surprise the audience. 

Barry doesn’t really need another chaotic episode like “ronny/lily” since the show has gained momentum and won over audiences in season two. It’s Berg and Hader’s ability to incorporate different concepts and genres and direct the show with consistency and authority that makes the show successful. Hader brings his usual deadpan performance with a little bit of sadness and sunken eyes to show how tired and wrung out he is. The audience will have to see how the rest of the show will end for Barry, Gene, Sally, Noho Hank, and the other characters. Mercenaries, international drug cartels and second chances, and nearly every character is a treasure and brings a delightful performance filled with remorse and sadness.

For more from Nuha, check out her review of Phoenix Rising.

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Nuha Hassan is a film and TV writer and reviewer, based in the Maldives. She is a Staff Writer at Film Cred, Off Colour, and Flip Screen. Apart from writing about film, she is a Video Editor at Dead Central. She studied Master of Media at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Her love for film started with David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. Her favourite comfort film is When Harry Met Sally.

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