There are very few shows that fly under the radar and at the same time get prime time accolades. Once in a while you do get a show that hits on all cylinders, gets some praise, and yet so many people are still oblivious to how good it really is. Barry, the Golden Globe nominated hit from HBO and Alec Berg, is one of those shows. The show came quietly last year and ended with a bang (literally), garnishing new praise for Bill Hader (and earning him an Emmy) and the Dexter like creepiness he brought to the table. The show follows a veteran turned hit-man (pretty good one at that) who goes to Los Angeles on a job that is given to him by his handler, Fuches (Stephen Root). As everyone else does, he quickly falls in love with the film world. He isn’t very good at acting, but that isn’t going to stop him, even if the police are looking for a killer that matches his description. The show followed a very dark comedic turn that in retrospect only worked with Bill Hader as the lead as Barry. It has this eerie tone which adds to the tension and overall feel of the landscape presented. It reminds me a lot of Slums of Beverly Hills in that it showed me parts of Los Angeles I don’t think I know. But a show isn’t a show without it’s supporting cast.
Cue Henry Winkler. I doubt there are many actors who have truly catered to such a medley of audiences as Henry Winkler has. From the Fonz to Coach Klein to Barry Zuckerkorn, he has been an icon in every generation. His take on Barry’s acting coach, Gene Cousineau, earned him an Emmy as well, but also gave us an over the top yet earnest turn as a man who isn’t just some failed actor turned teacher. His romance with the lead detective, Janice (Paula Newsome) looking for Barry (but not knowing it until the finale) is at first strange but slowly becomes endearing. It’s hard to NOT like him. Damn you Fonz. We also have to give credit to our two “baddies” NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) and Goran (Glenn Fleshler), who give deadpan performances as Barry’s Chechen bosses by proxy. NoHo Hank in particular is a standout hilarious performance for Carrigan, who we’ve seen kill it (no more puns I swear) previously in Gotham.
That brings us to Season 2. The show picks off right where we left off, with the investigation of Janice’s death (spoiler alert?), and Barry trying to rally his classmates into doing Gene’s play, even though Gene is grieving. The cold open was a bumbling robbery gone wrong, orchestrated by Fuches, who is now without Barry. This leads to his arrest and even a possible connection to Barry (the fact that Barry hasn’t been caught yet is actually a hilarious plot hole that I think most of us just accept at this point). Gene refuses to do the show, as he has still not recovered, and almost cancels the class too before Barry gives him a real dramatic break down of his first kill. Two students attempt to recreate the memory, but Barry doesn’t show them what really happened (him being congratulated and not showing much emotion vs. the crying, emotional recreation by his classmates). But, just because Barry feels he is out of the hit man game doesn’t mean he is truly out. NoHo Hank (who took over the Chechen gang at the end of last season) has a job for Barry, and after Barry initially rebuffs him, NoHo Hank comes back with “no more Mr. Nice Hank”, giving us a chilling, absolute award winning speech before leaving with some pop song playing (oh Hank). The show is off to a great start, and even more so, still pushing our buttons. Lets get weird!
Catch Barry on Sundays at 10PM EST on HBO