Which is, well, frustrating. Because Barry is such a great show and so few people are watching it.
This isn’t an anti-MAFS essay, it doesn’t need to be — both shows can exist in this enormous TV ecosystem where keeping up with even the top 20 shows of the year seems near-impossible.
But, think about this, the first season of Barry ran for eight episodes at 30 minutes each — four hours of quality TV with excellent writing and compelling performances.
It’s also less than one week of MAFS episodes. Just a thought.
In your time-strapped TV schedule, it’s absolutely worth squeezing in Barry even if you can’t watch it while tweeting outrage-fuelled hot takes about producer-manipulated “affairs”.
Created by Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader and Alec Berg (Silicon Valley, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm), the double-Emmy winning Barry returns for its second season tonight on Foxtel. It’s as funny as it is dark — and it’s packed with real pathos.
For those coming to Barry fresh, here’s the quick, spoiler-free summary:
Barry (Hader) is a war veteran, trained sniper and assassin. Emotionally shutdown and likely suffering from PTSD, Barry’s difficult transition back into civilian life landed him on an unusual path as a killer-for-hire.
Yeah, this gets really, really dark, even though Hader has built a career through comedy.
If you’ve seen the 2014 movie The Skeleton Twins, a film he starred in with Kristen Wiig, as a depressed man returning to his hometown, it’ll give you an idea of the emotional lows Hader can plunge to.
On a mission to off a guy, he follows his target to an acting class run by former star Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) and inadvertently finds himself drawn to the group of lost souls and wannabe thespians.
The group is supportive and hopeful, the kind of positive presence he’s been missing from his life. Until then, his only friend is Fuchs (Stephen Root), his handler who assigns him his murderous jobs.
The first season mostly follows Barry’s internal turmoil — of wanting to be in the light while constantly being pulled back into the dark, whether that’s by circumstance or through his own choices is the set-up of the show.
The second season picks up after the big moment in the first series finale (which I won’t spoil here). Let’s just say that the pressure is on, with Barry facing challenges from all sides.
Hader is so good in this role, a perfectly calibrated performance as someone grappling with the consequences of his choices and trying to find redemption.
Hader and Winkler both won Emmys for their performances last year, and their chemistry is so compelling and watchable.
Also, special mention to Anthony Carrigan who plays a Chechen gangster named Noho Hank, who is genuinely likeable and sunny, despite the drug-slinging and killing.
Barry is a well-constructed show where everything works in symphony — including its artful direction (Donald Glover collaborator Hiro Murai helms the first two episodes of season two). And Hader and Berg both write and direct other episodes, so their creative energies are all over it.
It’s a seriously excellent series and one that you deserve to experience. Do it.
Barry starts tonight on Fox Showcase on Foxtel and Foxtel Now at 8pm.
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