Unless you’ve seen Barry, you haven’t seen Barry yet


by Ryan Magalhaes, Staff Reporter

Stanley Kubrick once said, of the role of filmmakers: “Every story’s already been told. Our job is to do it one better.” 

This is where “Barry” finds its inspiration.

The brainchild of Bill Hader and Alec Berg, “Barry” follows a hitman—the titular Barry—constantly trying to get out of the business. His best efforts never seem to close the book on his criminal past. In fact, everything he tries only pulls him deeper into madness.

You’ve probably experienced stories about ex-criminals. You’ve probably seen stories about revenge. You’ve probably seen stories about love. But you haven’t seen “Barry”.

Barry- the character, not the show -is not the “scoundrel with a heart of gold” trope we’ve all seen a million times. He is a sociopathic, angry, depressed and violent lunatic who violates the very peace he hopes to create in his mission of creating it.

He is not the charming, loveable rogue that Han Solo was. He is prone to outbursts of screaming rage, sometimes directed at his friends. He can barely maintain a stable relationship, much less be a playboy like James Bond.

What I’ve outlined might make you disinclined to watch the show. I can understand that. But if you’re tired of seeing the same picturesque version of life that bears little resemblance to your actual experience, then you will enjoy “Barry”.

It defies expectations and manages a mixed tone as few other shows do, pairing dramatic emotional moments that will have you shaking with side-splitting comedy, both of which are powered by an incredible lead performance.

It really can’t be overstated how good Bill Hader is in the show. Henry Winkler and Sarah Goldberg are obviously stand-out actors with comedic and dramatic chops that never fail, but Hader undeniably is the best performance in the show.

Carrying the audience from wild highs of absurd comedy to the heart-stopping drama that will have you at the edge of your seat, Bill Hader gives us a masterclass in mixed-tone acting.

Stanley Kubrick also once said: “You photograph the photograph.” This philosophy of a picture of a version of reality seems impossible, but this too, “Barry” manages to achieve.

Is the show absurd? Yes. Is it over-exaggerated? Yes. But it is this very hyperreality that allows it to buck the trends that so many shows fall into. 

So, why should you watch “Barry”? Because you haven’t seen it yet.

We are dominated in TV, movies, and video games by the tyranny of the happy ending. Even “dark” series insist on tying up all the loose ends and improving the lives of the characters.

“Barry” has no such commitment. The characters are broken, and they stay broken, and watching them claw for some semblance of peace and happiness is eerily similar to our own sometimes hopeless search for joy.

But unlike typical dramas that have nothing but sadness and pain to offer, “Barry” also brings moments of levity. It will make you laugh and sometimes give you happiness and hope.

You haven’t seen “Barry” yet, and I hope you do.