In this column, I discuss the new HBO satire, "Barry":
Bill Hader is going deeper in his post-”Saturday Night Live” career, as evidenced by the new series “Barry” on HBO, which he created with “Seinfeld” alum Alec Berg.
Hader’s character, whose name is also the title of the series, is an ex-Marine who now makes his living as a hit man. But things get complicated for Barry during one particular job, when something within him is awakened and he desires to pursue a new career: acting.
Hader gives Barry a great vulnerability and depth, with only occasional hints (so far, that is — the show has aired only two episodes at this point) at the wacky and silly side of Hader’s comedic capabilities. Barry is unhinged, but not like his “SNL” characters Stefon or Vinny Vedecci were. His boiling rage and fear are hidden beneath a mostly deadpan performance.
In the climax of the pilot, Barry delivers his first moment of great acting, only he doesn’t realize that’s what he’s doing, and it’s a surprising scene that is full of emotion.
Part of what makes Barry sympathetic is that yes, he’s a killer, but he learned his trade from the United States government. The series slyly poses an interesting question: What does one do after coming home from performing highly skilled, government-sanctioned assassinations? It’s not a set of skills that necessarily translates to many other careers.