Who is laughing now? Barry is groundbreaking TV with a point to prove

This article discusses the Season Three Season Finale barry

HBO’s third season barry (Foxtel On Demand), Bill Hader’s dark comedy about a disgruntled hit man trying to recreate himself as an aspiring Hollywood actor, was a transformative television experience. Too often, consciously or unconsciously, we want our favorite shows to challenge us, but not fundamentally change us. We need the guardrails to keep the series in place, to keep us engaged but also reassured. barry not only rejected that idea, it armed it. The disturbing elements that had slowly taken root in previous seasons finally took over.

Created by Hader, the Saturday Night Live polymath, and Alec Berg, a contributor to Control your enthusiasm and silicone valleybarry was always a wonderful deception. The absurdity left you off balance, one step behind the mood and one layer away from the real Barry (Hader). The former Marine, who was a target for Gene Cousineau’s (Henry Winkler) acting class, was a terrible storyteller—it was only when he spoke frankly about how he’d killed people, whether in Afghanistan or America, that he was commended for a worthy achievement.

Bill Hader plays a disgruntled hit man who remakes himself as a (evil) Hollywood actor in the black comedy Barry.Credit:HBO/Foxtel

Violence is the currency of the show, but it’s never been easy to pigeonhole it. Like the least inspired crime dramas, murders would happen with abrupt ease. Hader’s Barry Berkman – his stage name is Barry Block – is said to have been stunned by both the people he was hired for, and his own lack of response. Was it ridiculous or tragic that Barry would go from one murder to another, oblivious to the trauma he had brought from the war and how it had damaged him? Laughter, the show’s first season suggested, is perhaps the safest response.

But over three seasons, that comical detachment slowly faded. A way to look at barry is that it was about the consequences of your heinous deeds overtaking you. With each batch, the pace accelerated and the impact deepened. In the first season, when Barry lingered to attend Cousineau’s class, he was forced to hear a murdered student’s father express his deep grief; by the third season, the families of several victims were chasing Barry for revenge and those closest to him were indelibly scarred by his actions.

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

While chasing a target, Barry is led to Gene Cousineau's (Henry Winkler) acting class.

While chasing a target, Barry is led to Gene Cousineau’s (Henry Winkler) acting class.Credit:Warrick Page/HBO

No one fell deeper into Barry’s world than Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg), another acting 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 spiraled out of control, embracing the violence Barry carried in him, and finally expressed it in a cathartic scene in the final episode where she fought for her life and then brutally changed another. took. “Barry did this,” Barry coached her after — he thought he was protecting her, but it was the truth.

As the story grew vaguer – the laughter, still skillfully drafted, concealed less and less – the imagery of barry became richer and more pronounced. Season three, with Hader and Berg directing every part between them, is perhaps the closest thing to a series from the Coen brothers, with shreds of dream logic and deadpan action sequences. At one point, a suburban street just turned into a beach, a step away from reality that somehow served to focus Barry’s journey.

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