Bill Hader vs. Barry

Duana Posted by Duana at September 23, 2019 12:02:02 September 23, 2019 12:02:02

I’m willing to bet that, of all the suddenly-must-see shows that came onto your radar around Emmy nomination time if they weren’t there already, Barry is the one that you’ve seen. It seems deceptively easy to get into – Bill Hader, Henry Winkler, it’s only a half-hour, why not try one before bed…

…and then you’re white-knuckling through superhuman teenage girls and the dark, dark place inside Barry that he tries to avoid through scene study and a truly terrible girlfriend (Sarah Goldberg, who’s amazing) who systematically drags him down with her without the slightest consideration for who he is.  But hey, at least there’s Noho Hank.

So my question is this: 

Bill Hader has said that writing Barry takes him to a dark place, and that the ‘struggling actor’ part of the story brings back a lot of his anxiety from his SNL days. Which you then have to factor against that he’s a genius at it. Truly. His performance is great, but he’s also creating the stories and directing and all those upsetting, nuanced characters (who knew I would become a Henry Winkler fan for the first time through Mr. Cousineau?) live inside his brain, and it needs to be dark in there for it to work… 

…and it’s the most successful thing he’s ever done. 

So, the ongoing conundrum. If making Barry miserable is the path to success – not because awards make you happy, but because all writers seek validation for what they write – then you’d assume we have to go down a very dark path in season three, and that’s… saying a whole hell of a lot. (I wish I could elaborate – all I’ll say is that my perverse palate for gross and gory things was DELIGHTED during that whole drug store sequence in the “ronny/lily” episode.) 

On the other hand, the whole charm of the show is there’s supposed to be hope for Barry. But if there’s too much hope (and relief from the darkest spaces for Hader) then Barry’s story – and Barry – come to an end, and I can’t see anyone wanting to let it go after another big win like this. Season 3 will drop early in 2020, but after that…? 

Place your bets. How much more Barry is there? Does it end on some sort of marginal, hip-pocket-representation up? Or allll the way down in a glorious ball of flames?

Photos:
Steve Granitz/ Kevin Winter/ Rich Polk/ Frazer Harrison/ Getty Images

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