After three long years off the air, “Barry” Season 3 will release its first episode on April 24.
Created by Alec Berg and Bill Hader, “Barry” is about a hitman who tries to become an actor. It’s not much of a hot take at this point to say “Barry” is one of the best shows out today, having received 30 Emmy nominations and six wins. But to many people, especially those not in-the-know, “Barry” can seem like pretty simple entertainment. As a show that embraces comedy and only lasts a half-hour per episode, it’s understandable why it might be hard to label it a classic. So, for those who can’t figure out why they love this show so much, here’s why “Barry” deserves the praise.
The show’s cold opens are short, funny and to the point. This is crucial because it sets the tone for how each episode plays out. Though highly amusing, the hitman-related subject matter is hard for viewers to relate to; even Hader has acknowledged the unrelatability of the premise. But when you put it in a world where it is as ridiculous to the characters as it is to the audience, one finds themselves in the weirdest way relating to a hitman. Off the bat, “Barry” establishes that it’s something to take seriously at times. However, before the viewers have the chance to get emotional, the show cuts to the iconic title card playing to the intro of Charles Bradley’s “Change for the World.”
For a show about actors, it’s no surprise that the performances in the series are some of the best you’ll see today. There’s Bill Hader, a goofy guy with a pretty distinctive face. The show works hard to provide the audience with a different perspective of Hader. It may not be the most dramatic or extreme performance you’ll see, but at some points, it sure as hell makes you wonder if he’s okay. But there’s no denying the rest of the cast is equally as impressive. Sarah Goldberg delivers some fantastic and seriously chilling monologues. Anytime Henry Winkler is on the screen, one can’t stop watching him because he’s so fascinating. There’s Anthony Carrigan, who brings a much-needed tension release to every episode. Lastly, the way Stephen Root uses his voice is unmatched. He can go from a goofy sidekick that the audience loves to becoming someone they want dead.
The thing about “Barry” is that each episode is only 30 minutes. When you throw a bunch of genres together in a relatively abbreviated amount of time, things can get really messy, really fast. Certain shows struggle to find this balance in a single episode, but “Barry” can do so in a single scene, scaring you in one moment, then making you chuckle at one of its many perfectly timed jokes. The attitude “Barry” gives off isn’t seen very often on TV. It feels introverted, personal and extremely vulnerable, but at the same time, intimidating. It makes the entire situation feel less pretentious and more welcoming for the average viewer. It’s such a smooth transition from one tone to the next. If a shift ever feels jarring, it’s entirely intentional.
There’s also the editing to consider. It’s no shock that Hader used to work in post-production because the edits are what makes the show what it is. “Barry” serves as a reminder that edits don’t need to be flashy to be good. Sometimes, it takes a good edit to let the story find its voice and do what it needs to do. Without the show’s cuts, the jokes would not land the way they do, nor would many of the dramatic moments hit as hard.
What strings a lot of this together is the characters. Not a single person feels underdeveloped in this show. After seeing a small glimpse into their backstories in the latest season, even the side characters (the acting students) feel developed enough. In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of them played major roles and had successful acting careers. At this point in the show, the audience has a pretty good idea of where the story is headed. However, there is plenty of time for unexpected twists and turns to pop up. The series doesn’t need cliffhangers to keep the audience entertained.
With a lot of shows, one tends to pick favorites. For example, in “Breaking Bad,” Jesse’s character seemed more interesting than Skyler’s. So, naturally, there were moments when audiences were more invested than others. With “Barry,” it isn’t hard to feel that way about everyone. There’s not a single boring character here. Each person sets their own rules of right and wrong, which makes for some gripping television at the end of the day.
As mentioned earlier, it’s an easy show to dismiss because of its subject matter and relatively short runtime. But when you take a closer look at the writing, performances, direction and editing, it’s an exceptional show where you will have no idea what’s going to happen next but are still completely strapped in for it. “Barry” goes a step further with its storytelling because not only does it understand how to keep an audience invested and how to entertain people, it also understands what it means to be a person. When you combine these two aspects in a single show, you get a story that can completely immerse its audience in the series’s world. One should expect Season 3 to further expand the show’s impact.