A series that creates such atmospheric tension with each and every episode that it becomes a nailbiting extravaganza with each new rendition, Barry has been a wild ride, to say the least.
The series has also been somewhat experimental, mixing elements of neonoir, action thrillers, and black comedies, with a generous dose of untouchable action choreography along the way.
Beginning and ending with Barry, an anti-social hitman with tons of mental health issues from his time in the war, the show delves into our protagonist’s past as well. He’s an ex-marine who couldn’t find solace in a calm life after returning home, and so he took up work as a contract killer for Mr. Fuches (Stephen Root). Barry is fantastic at his job, becoming one of the best hitmen in the world. He’s soon hired to take down various gangsters and prolific figures from different mobs across the US, thus leading to dozens of enemies who want to exact their vengeance.
However, the thing that separates Barry from most other people in his profession is his compassion. Though he seems like just another ruthless killer at first, struggling to survive and kill anyone in his path, in reality, he’s just a man who’s lost beyond recognition and looking for a higher purpose. When he’s called to Los Angeles, he takes up acting lessons under the tutelage of Gene (Henry Winkler), a Hollywood veteran. What Barry doesn’t expect is his genuine passion for the theatrical arts.
Ultimately, the series is a twisted redemption story of a completely broken and lost man who’s now found a new love, and in doing so has found a source of humanity and empathy within himself. However, the life he’s led for so long will not be easily tamed as he’s constantly forced to face his past through horrifying situations of violence and brutality that he’s put into. Not to mention, his business manager Fuches is making a ton of money through Barry and won’t let him leave this life that easily.
Barry is easy to root for, despite living the life of a ruthless killer, because he has issues of his own. He’s had a traumatic past and a life that’s been unforgiving to him. His wealth of mental health issues, helps to make him so much more nuanced compared to your average protagonist. And Hader portrays the lead with such emotional depth that it’s heartbreaking to watch him go through the ringer. The series is written by Alec Berg and Hader in collaboration, who allow this to be such a comedic and tension-filled delight.
Barry is deeply rooted in comedy and every aspect of the story reflects that. On the other hand, the show isn’t afraid to get serious and push the limits of action and violence when it comes to the television medium.