The new HBO series Barry has given me a plethora of laughs in the seven weeks since its premiere. However, last night I found myself weeping at Bill Hader’s uninhibited performance.
When you think of Mr. Hader, I’m sure you think of one of his hysterical SNL characters or say, “Yeah, he’s that funny guy from Forgetting Sarah Marshall/Superbad/Pineapple Express/Trainwreck/Hotrod!” He often portrays the goofy secondary character who also seems to make a lasting impression on the audience. As far as I’m concerned, Hader is a comedic genius and I have said on multiple occasions that he is, in fact, the funniest man on the planet. I just adore the guy.
When I found out that he would be starring on his own HBO show, I was completely on board. When I later found out that the show’s premise was following the life of a hired hitman who decides that he wants to become an actor, I was super-completely on board.
Without giving away any spoilers, I’ll say this: Barry (Bill Hader), a former marine, works as an assassin for his longtime friend and boss Fuches (Stephen Root). Barry is contracted to kill a Los Angeles actor, and in an attempt to get closer to his mark, Barry accidentally attends Gene Cousineau’s (Henry Winkler) acting class. Instead of completing his lethal task, he falls in love with the craft of acting.
As an actor, he can become someone else, someone who doesn’t have to hide his face to the world, someone who doesn’t murder people for a living. As an actor myself, I feel for Barry, minus the murdering part.
During the course of the season, he falls for his classmate Sally (Sarah Goldberg) and has to evade the police after the sniping deaths keep piling up in Los Angeles, some by his own hand, some at the hands of the gang of violent Chechens he becomes entangled with. The whole time, he wants to leave his days of killing behind and focus on acting.
Though he’s skilled with a rifle, he’s lousy at acting. While watching the show, I kept thinking about how I couldn’t wait for Barry’s breakthrough. He’s following Cousineau’s instructions to the best of his ability but has trouble cracking the surface. He’s hearing but not listening. He just doesn’t seem to get it.
Then, in episode seven, a life-changing incident befalls Barry before a performance of a scene from Macbeth in which he has but one line to deliver. Said incident causes him to utilize and express all of the pent-up aggression, pain, confusion and grief that he’s held inside for years in just that one line.
He expresses his heartbreak in such an intense way that it was incredibly moving to watch. He finally gets to a point where he’s playing the action and communicating with his scene partner. He commits and lets himself go.
Well, I got what I wanted, and it made me cry. Bill Hader, you hilarious, poignant, wonderfully talented son of a bitch, you made me cry. Thank you.
Barry is an original dark comedy co-created by Alec Berg and Bill Hader that airs on Sundays at 10:30pm. The season finale is May 13th.