On its face, the premise for HBO’s Barry reads like a Saturday Night Live skit too predictable to make it out of dress rehearsal. But somehow, SNL alum Bill Hader has built a dark comedy with surprising dramatic depth featuring his character Barry Berkman, a nerdy yet effective hitman who decides he really wants to be an actor. This, despite the fact that he is a terrible one. Henry Winkler plays Barry’s acting teacher Gene Cousineau, a has-been who never really was, who is too focused on soaking up the adoration of his students to notice one of them is a stone-cold killer. Hader, who developed the series with writer/director Alec Berg (Seinfeld, Silicon Valley), shows his chops as a writer and director as well, crafting a showcase for an increasingly violent, increasingly emotional and, yes, increasingly funny story. Even while emerging as one of the quirkiest and entertaining series on TV, Barry asks serious questions about emotional connection, the nature of violence, and the cost of doing whatever it takes to keep a secret. But the greatest question Barry asks is simpler: How do you handle the realization that the one thing you are good at is curdling your soul, while the work which makes your heart sing is also something you are absolutely awful at doing? For succeeding in this high wire act balancing dark comedy and drama, Barry wins a Peabody Award.
Created by: Alec Berg & Bill Hader. Showrunners: Alec Berg, Bill Hader. Executive Producers: Alec Berg, Bill Hader. Producers: Aida Rodgers, Emily Heller. Consulting Producer: Liz Sarnoff. Directors: Bill Hader, Maggie Carey, Hiro Murai, Alec Berg. Writers: Alec Berg, Bill Hader, Duffy Boudreau, Sarah Solemani, Ben Smith, Emily Heller, Liz Sarnoff. Editors: Jeff Buchanan, Kyle Reiter. Cinematography: Brandon Trost, Paula Huidobro. Music by: David Wingo.