Series Review: Barry – Season 1 (2018)

Don’t kill people. It’s bad. I mean, for most of us, that goes without saying, but some people don’t have that as their default setting. Killing, bad. Okay, let’s talk tv.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Barry” season 1.

Barry Berkman (Bill Hader) is a former Marine who’s been working as a hitman for years. However, while hired to do a job in Los Angeles, he finds himself drawn to a local acting class. And we follow him as he tries to lead this double life as both a hitman and a shitty actor. And I know what you’re thinking, because I too thought so when I heard about it. This sounds like something right out of a “Saturday Night Live” skit, and like it wouldn’t work as a full series. But god damn it, this show proved me fucking wrong. “Barry” is one of the most uniquely compelling shows in recent years. It’s a serious story within a comedic premise, deftly blending a dark crime-drama with its funny setup, surprising me at every turn with how good the storytelling is.

The characters in this show are unique, colorful, fun, layered, and really interesting. Bill Hader plays Barry, the titular hitman (hitular? titman?) who finds a new hobby in life. He’s a guy who’s been through a lot of shit, and seeing how that affects his actions throughout the show is really engaging. And Bill Hader is fantastic in the role, showing that he’s not only hilarious, but also an excellent dramatic performer. We also get supporting work from people like Stephen Root, Anthony Carrigan, Sarah Goldberg, Henry Winkler, John Pirrucello, Paula Newsome, D’Arcy Carden, Glenn Fleshler, and many more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score for the show was composed by David Wingo, and it’s pretty great. It’s sometimes droning, and sometimes on synths, it helps create an uneasy and emotionally investing mood that helps elevate the already excellent storytelling. And the occasional use of licensed music works quite well too.

“Barry” was created for HBO by Alec Berg and Bill Hader, with them handling writing for most of the episodes, with Hader even directing a few episodes. And the craft here is really solid. The camerawork is methodical, feeling more like a high-budget thriller than a comedy. And this does add a lot to the show, giving it a tension-filled edge that makes it stand out. And as this show is still technically a comedy, I should briefly talk about the humor, right? Well, here we go… it’s funny. Sometimes silly, sometimes dark, sometimes mildly satirical, I laughed at it all.

This show/season has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 99% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 83/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,1/10.

Season 1 of “Barry” took all my expectations, shot them in the head, and threw them in a ditch and showed just how fucking good it is. It has a great plot, really good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/writing. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “Barry” is a 9,91/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Barry” season 1 is now done.

If “Barry” is a taco, then the shell is made of comedy, and the filling is made out of drama. Shut up, my metaphors are great.

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