REVIEW: Barry – Season Three (2022)

Bill Hader is the titular character in HBO’s dark comedy BARRY — PHOTO: Merrick Morton / HBO..

I’ve long been a fan of HBO’s Barry. When it first came out, I reviewed the first handful of episodes and I was blown away. Although I haven’t always had the time to write about the show due to life getting in the way, it has remained one of my favorite shows on television over the last several years. However, it feels like so long ago that season two of Barry ended. When the third season of Barry was finally released on HBO and HBO Max, it had been more than three years since the second season ended. Admittedly, I wondered if the show could still hook me in and if what it was aiming for would still work. And I was happy to find out that HBO’s Barry, led by Bill Hader, is still knocking it out of the park.

At the outset of the third season of HBO’s Barry, which takes place sometime after the events of the season two finale, we find a visibly depressed and disillusioned Barry Berkman (played by Bill Hader) having returned to his job as a hitman but showing no remorse or patience with his clients or victims, and the only thing keeping him going is the hope of possibly finding redemption and forgiveness for having killed Gene Cousineau’s former girlfriend, detective Janice Moss. But the major questions are whether or not Gene (played by Henry Winkler) can return to normalcy after finding out that Barry is to blame, as well as whether redemption is even possible for Barry? Meanwhile, NoHo Hank (played by Anthony Carrigan) has started a relationship with the head of the Bolivian mafia, and Sally (played by Sarah Goldberg) has put all of her energy into writing and starring in her own show titled Joplin.

The show that I once described as a comedic ‘Dexter meets Kiss Kiss Bang Bang‘ has become much more depressing than outright funny as time has gone on, and this third season is the most depressing yet. Now, that may not sound like an endorsement, but it is. Barry started out as a hitman-turns-to-acting half-hour comedy, but, in spite of that half-hour comedy format, it is now a dark and moody show about seeking redemption. But the way the show uses acting even still (even when it doesn’t look like the show is about acting) is a wonderful surprise, with one character’s decision in the season three finale proving how good of an actor this character (who will remain nameless here due to spoilers) really is. The show still has moments of great comedy (you may say that this season may not be as funny as its previous seasons, but I would say that the comedy is much more dry and dark than previously), like in the way this season deftly satirizes the algorithmic tendencies of the entertainment industry, but the show’s most memorable moments this season were when Barry or Sally or others were confronted with their actions and had to clean up their messes or suffer the consequences.

And this season had more consequences than previously. Bill Hader and co-creator Alec Berg have previously expertly written themselves and their titular character out of corners (and I’m sure they’ll continue to) but the places they take Barry Berkman this season demand a lasting effect which they seem destined and determined to explore in upcoming seasons. Its creators should be commended for how far they’ve taken the show. Few comedies can stand the test of being dragged into such dark and depressing material and come out the other side still being really funny. That said, you don’t remember this season for the chuckles. Instead, you remember it for the places the showrunners have dared to take these characters, as well as the intense performances that have been delivered throughout this season by Hader, Goldberg, and Winkler.

A-

– Review Written By Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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