Series Review: Barry


Barry is a pretty dark comedy. Imagine being an ex-soldier who earns a living as a hired assassin and has little to no prospects of finding other employment. This is Barry’s situation until he attends acting classes to get closer to his next victim.
He suddenly realizes he would like to be an actor. What’s more, he also meets a girl he really likes during these acting classes. Unfortunately leaving his past behind isn’t that easy, especially that his employer doesn’t want to let go of him. And you think your issues are ruining your dating life?

Barry (Bill Hader) is a relatable and well-constructed character. His experiences from the army are presented in a moving way. The mainstream American movies often try to dismiss the feelings one could have, related to killing another human being with notions of patriotism, the killed people being “bad guys” and similar. This doesn’t make Barry feel any better, though. He killed people in the field and he kept killing them afterwards.
There’s a number of interesting parallels that the scriptwriter draws to make people think about what war really means for soldiers and what it means to take someone’s life away. Barry’s trying to have a normal life and land the girl of his dreams but his memories and his present make it rather challenging.
Of course, Barry’s character is a caricature as it is a comedy show after all. Most ex-soldiers don’t embark on an assassin career. However, the problem with fitting in after experiences in the war zone is a very relevant one.

Barry’s love interest, Sally (Sarah Goldberg) is actually quite a complicated character herself. She may look like exactly what the mainstream media tell you an ideal woman looks like but she has a bunch of issues of her own.
She’s needy and avoidant at the same time, causing already struggling Barry a lot of issues in season 1. In season 2 it turns out that many of her problems have to do with her turbulent past. She married a man at the age of 19 and let him abuse her both psychologically and physically for many years. She eventually left him but still struggles with being assertive and has quite obvious anger issues due to her own passivity. It seems like meeting Barry breaks her pattern of bad boys.
Is Barry really such a good guy for her, though? He behaves like a good guy and does all the right things but he keeps murdering people to keep his identity secret. One could argue this makes him far from your regular Prince Charming.

The series has no straightforward answers but makes you wonder about many modern issues. Some of Barry’s and Sally’s problems aren’t relatable at all, others are so real it’s painful to watch what’s happening on the screen.
I think the series has much more bitterness and sadness than your typical dark comedy. The choice of actor, the title and Barry’s wardrobe seem a conscious choice to evoke Dexter. If you’ve never watched it it’s about a broken person becomes a serial killer and tries to have a normal love life at the same time. If you watched it and you’ll start with Barry, you may wonder whether the conclusions for both characters will be the same…
In any case, both are excellent and entertaining examples of human drama and a reminder of how trapped we are by our circumstances.

There are two seasons of Barry so far. The episodes are sweet and short – just around 30 minutes each. It’s prime entertainment but don’t expect your mood to be elevated by this series. It may be a personal thing but after every episode, I feel more sad than before I start watching it.
It’s worth giving it a go because it’s quite fresh TV with a lot of counter mainstream ideas and reflections.

Have you watched Barry? Have you watched Dexter? Can a person ever truly move on, if they did something wrong and have a happy love life?


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