How the HBO Show is a Masterclass of Comedy and Drama

Barry is an HBO original series that tells the story of a hitman from the Midwest who moves to Los Angeles and gets involved in the city’s theater scene. The show originally premiered in 2018 and currently has two full seasons that are available to watch on HBO Max. If you are wondering when the third season of Barry will be released, the third season premiere is set for April 24th, 2022 and will be available to stream on HBO.

Barry carves out an interesting and unique space for itself in the world of comedy series streaming. The show is most accurately described as a dark comedy; it is, after all, about a hitman, whose job it is to kill others. However, when compared to other dark comedies, this series has a different approach. Where other comedy series may use morbidity as a comedic tool, Barry approaches death and killing from a more grounded and realistic perspective.


The distinct separation between the comedic elements and the more dark ones makes for a very interesting show. Instead of the characters being nonchalant about death, they are aware of its repercussions. This aspect raises the stakes and allows for some incredibly compelling acting which transcends the subgenre. This series really is a masterclass in comedy and drama, and in this article we will lay out exactly why.

Top-Tier Acting

Winkler and Goldber on stage in Barry

The acting in Barry really is phenomenal. The show would not be nearly as strong as it is without the top-tier level of acting displayed throughout the series. The creator and main character of the show, Bill Haderis an experienced comedy professional, with hilarious acting in films like Knocked Up, Hot Rod, Superbad, Trainwreck, and Tropic Thunder. Hader was also one of the best performers and later one of the best hosts of Saturday Night Liveand he’s acted in another series he created, Documentary Now! Hader does much more than comedy in this seriesshowing off his range through Barry’s interpersonal relationships and professional ones – which tend to involve killing.

Hader’s friends in this series are people who are involved in the theater and improv scene in Los Angeles. This includes his romantic interest, Sally Reed (played by Sarah Goldberg) and his acting teacher Gene Cousineau (played perfectly by Henry Winkler, who won an Emmy for it). As the series progresses, they have a more involved role in Barry’s life. Gene specifically is forced to confront Barry’s vocation and does a great job playing the part and reacting to the gravity of the situation.

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Although Hader’s character tries to distance himself from his killing profession, he continues to get roped back in. Two individuals who are involved in this hidden part of Barry’s life are Chechen mobster NoHo Hank and Barry’s corrupt father figure and employer, Monroe Fuches. NoHo Hank is played by the brilliantly charismatic Anthony Carrigan and Fuches is played by the talented Stephen Root.

The Unique Genre of Barry

Barry plays a video game

As mentioned before, the unique genre of Barry is one of its shining attributes. Compared to a dark comedy series like the continuing What We Do In the Shadows, which may show a flippant and dismissive response to death, in Barry we see remorse for killing; there is an understanding that Barry’s job causes immense harm to others, and this weighs on him.

A particularly good example of this would be in season two where he is forced to kill one his friends, Chris, after he is implicated in a murder. Barry tries to convince his friend that keeping quiet is the best move and that he wants to try to protect his friend and family. The friend says that he needs to tell the police and that he does not mind going to jail. After this is said, Barry gets upset. He is angry knowing now that his only option is to kill his friend. The friend pleads with Barry, but Barry swiftly executes him and walks away, demonstrably shaken to his core and revealing his pain by trashing a room at the theater, none of which is played for laughs.

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Barry is not a heartless killer. He uses his acting and theater classes as a form of catharsis after making himself numb for so many years. He struggles with forming meaningful interpersonal relationships because of his career. The series showcases an incredible range of human emotions, from grief to anger, to jealousy. It really is an incredible story with great acting, which is tied together with great direction and writing.

Barry’s Writing and Direction

Barry is startled in the woods

Bill Hader has really outdone himself with the direction on this series. He is the creator and the star (and even occasional director), allowing there to be no obstacles in between the production and the finished product of his character, Barry. Hader has previous experience writing for Saturday Night Live, South Park, and Documentary Now !, but this series elevates his craft to new heights.

On both a macro level and with specifics from its visual palette to moments of powerful dialogue, Barry excels. The dialogue is realistic, compelling, and importantly fits the cadence and style of the actors delivering it. Following the actors, the dialogue has range, shining through all scenes, whether it’s an action sequenceromantic scene, or a funny scene, maintaining realism while also being specific to the show and fitting.

Something that is not always the most refined in comedy series are their larger season-long story arcs. Where other shows may keep their plots relatively episodic, Barry has a compelling multi-season long story arc that keeps the viewer watching, unsure of if Barry is going to be redeemed or turned into an irredeemable monster (or caught or killed). This may be surprising, seeing that the episodes are only about 30 minutes in length, but the show pulls it off. In this short amount of time, Barry is able to display funny and compassionate characters while also progressing the larger storyline forward. This series truly is a masterclass of comedy and drama; if you have not seen Barryit’s a definitive watch.

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