Barry

3 out of 5

Created by: Alec Berg, Bill Hader

covers season 1

Barry is a “good show” about which I’m not sure if I have any feelings.  Hey, just like its emotionally challenged protagonist, midlife-crisis-having assassin Barry, played by Bill Hader!  Surely that’s meta intentional and makes the “good show” a better show?  No?

A bit back, Amazon put out Patriot to okay reviews, but maybe more importantly, not much “cool” internet attention.  I really liked Patriot, which was about an emotionally challenged, midlife-crisis-having assassin; the show was darkly funny but also really contemplatively somber when it needed to be, and appropriately shifted its light-handed death dealings into TV-weightier material.  Barry is pretty much the same thing, but distracted by girls – much like Barry is distracted by Sally (Sarah Goldberg), in the acting class he takes for cover for a job – and happy to trade in quirky character bemusement, offered by admittedly fantastic quirky character actors like Stephen Root and Henry Winkler.  And that distraction is given an R-rated veneer with a predilection for violence, which is where the show – stick with me here – gains some traction, as it proves willing to get bloody and serious with a straight face, but it never quite breaches the non-emotions churning ‘neath Barry’s straight face during these straight-faced actions, again moreso falling back on quirk – an acting lesson of the day translates to some moral quandary for Barry! – than subtly nuanced scripting.

Which isn’t to say the show isn’t an acceptable distraction, what with Silicon Valley‘s Alec Berg in a co-pilot chair to keep things hep and snickeringly self-aware deprecatingly cool, but that comment itself is laden with the same kind of implied quotes I applied to my “good show” descriptor, i.e. meta, baby, but maybe it’s okay to open up and connect with the audience just a tad… without quotes.