Never been a fan of Saturday Night Live. I’ll go so far as to say that the only time the show was good was in the early 90s with Chris Farley, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, etc.
So when Bill Hader came out with Barry, my thoughts were ‘meh’…interesting concept, but I found recent SNL talent to be lacking. However that was a huge misconception on my part. When my wife started binge watching the show, I suddenly realized that everything I’ve done for this blog, Bill Hader was already doing with Barry.
In fact, when Henry Winkler’s Gene Cousineau opens a case containing a pistol, gifted from Rip Torn with note advising him not to “blow his brains out”, I laughed so hard because that was a joke I could have easily written for one of my many stupid ass stories.
Moreover, Hader and his writers like to find the humanity in absurd circumstances, which is a concept I’m always drawn towards. One of the recurring themes is the question ‘can people change?’. Barry, the titular character, finds his purpose in being an actor but is continually drawn back into the world of killing by Anthony Carrigan’s Noho Hank and Stephen Root’s Fuches. But despite being locked into the criminal underworld, even Hank and Fuches have their redeeming qualities.
In fact, every major character occupies a state of being both redeemable/irredeemable (much like real people. Go figure 🤷♂️) Barry, for instance, kills both criminals and innocent people alike for a variety of reasons. Sarah Goldberg’s Sally is absolutely selfish and egotistical. Fuches is a total scumbag. Hank is the head of a Chechen drug trafficking gang. Yet at every given opportunity we come to sympathize with them.
This is one of those rare shows that was perfectly cast. Bill Hader is able to effectively do his brand of low key humor while the supporting cast can really strut their stuff. I don’t think any other pair of actors could have pulled off something like this.
But I love the humor combined with gut-punching drama. Other shows and movies (AND fiction, from the likes of your truly) have tried to do something similar, but this is the only time I’ve bought in. Barry is absolutely the best show made in the last 10 years and it sucks that I only recently discovered it.