Table of Contents
- Where to Watch Barry on TV
- Where to Stream Barry
- Barry is not the Bill Hader comedy you might expect. It’s way more interesting.
- Bill Hader is a hitman-turned-actor in the new trailer for HBO’s Barry
- The 20 Best TV Shows of 2019: ‘Fleabag,’ ‘Watchmen,’ and More
- The Bill Hader comedy series Barry was a breakout hit and up for several Emmys. But can fans watch the show on Netflix?
- Where to watch and stream HBO’s Barry – is the dark comedy on NOW TV?
- Where can I watch Barry?
- What is Barry about?
- How many seasons of Barry are there?
- When will Barry return to TV?
- Who is in the cast of Barry?
- Where is Barry filmed?
If you’re on the hunt for something new to watch in 2020, we suggest Barry, a darkly hilarious TV show about a hitman struggling to become an actor. Seriously. Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader co-created and also stars as the titular former Marine-turned-contract-killer who tries to turn his life around by taking an acting class, led by a charming but self-important acting coach, Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler). The Good Place’s D’arcy Carden also steals scenes as a narcissistic aspiring actor.
The show took home three Emmys in 2019, and with Game of Thrones over, Barry is actually now HBO’s most-watched show. Now, the dark comedy is up for three Golden Globes. Here’s where you can binge the critically-beloved tragicomedy before the next season.
Where to Watch Barry on TV
HBO has renewed Barry for season 3, but it has not yet announced a release date. Since Barry’s second season ended on May 19th, you have plenty of time to catch up on the first two seasons. HBO subscribers can watch old episodes of Barry on their television with the On Demand function available through their set-top cable box.
You can also watch online via HBO GO, the company’s online streaming platform that is included with the television cable package.
Where to Stream Barry
If you cancelled your HBO subscription after Game of Thrones ended, you may be out of luck … unless you try HBO Now, the company’s standalone streaming service, which you can subscribe to on a monthly basis without a traditional cable package.
Barry, like almost all of HBO’s original programming, isn’t on Netflix. However, you can purchase the whole series on iTunes. If you’re a Hulu user, you can add HBO to your Hulu plan and stream HBO’s original series and movies through Hulu. The same goes for Amazon Prime.
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Katie Bourque As an Editorial Fellow for Good Housekeeping, Katie covers health, beauty, home, and pop culture.
Barry is not the Bill Hader comedy you might expect. It’s way more interesting.
Bill Hader has one of the best, most malleable faces that’s ever been on television. As seen in his dozens of characters on Saturday Night Live, Documentary Now!, and beyond, his grins stretch the entire width of his face as his eyebrows strain to break the ceiling of his forehead. Meanwhile, the eyes in between are capable of widening in pure glee or narrowing into a coy, sinister glower, depending on what’s asked of them.
In Barry — the pitch-black comedy he co-created with Silicon Valley showrunner Alec Berg — Hader challenges himself to use all these skills and then some. And as Barry, a veteran turned hitman resigned to a life of murder and drudgery, Hader gets to flex not just his facial muscles, but his acting, writing, and directing ones, too.
When Barry’s latest hit brings him to Los Angeles, he accidentally stumbles into an acting class (taught by a perfectly grandiose Henry Winkler) that pushes him to do something he hasn’t in a long time: be human. Forced to confront his own feelings — which he tried to turn off to do his job — Barry slowly but surely frays so much at the edges that it’s only a matter of time before he splits apart.
Barry is not, in other words, what you might expect of a collaboration between Hader and Berg. Throughout its eight episodes, the show gets bleaker and bleaker, twisting its comedy into something so dark it eventually envelops the entire thing. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s hard to avert your eyes from its curious, unblinking stare.
Despite its premise, Barry is pretty funny!
Okay, granted, that’s a pretty dire description for a show that still finds a lot to laugh about.
Watching Gene Cousineau (Winkler) try to teach Barry how to act when the concept of emoting might as well be a foreign language to him is always hilarious, particularly when Winkler leans into Gene’s utter obliviousness. As Barry’s classmates, D’Arcy Carden and Darrell Britt-Gibson steal every scene they’re in, sometimes through just a single line reading.
As ambitious aspiring actress Sally, Sarah Goldberg has an undeniable sparkling energy that makes it easy to see why Sally captures Barry’s attention and imagination, as we see in sporadic cutaways to his perfect married fantasy life. But over time, Sally also reveals herself to be self-centered and impatient in ways both understandable and startling, and Goldberg finds a way to straddle the line every time.
The pompous Gene Cousineau (Winkler) and his latest protegée. HBO
Barry’s secret life also features a revolving door of hyperviolent weirdos whose casual approaches to their horrific jobs contrast starkly with Barry’s increasingly uneasy frustration. Stephen Root and Glenn Fleshler get the most material as Barry’s agent and a Chechnyan mob boss, respectively. But the clear standout after eight episodes is Anthony Carrigan as NoHo Hank, a Chechnyan flunky whose approach to crime is to politely ensure that everyone involved is comfortable and has enough babka with an earnest expression better suited to a puppy than a professional criminal.
And yes, of course, Hader finds moments in between Barry’s bouts of malaise to drive home exactly how ridiculous his entire situation is. But Barry’s somewhat surprising strength is in the moments when neither Hader nor the show backs away from exactly how awful his situation is — and the very real consequences of living a life in service of ending others.
But also, whew, Barry is dark
Despite Barry’s wacky attempts to be an actor — all of which are funnier for how clumsy Hader lets them be — Barry is an intrinsically tragic character. He’s a lost, depressed veteran who found a calling in the murder-for-hire business, a life he’s uncomfortable with but has no idea how to leave behind. Whenever he tried to insist he’s “done, starting now,” someone will inevitably find a way to pull him right back in.
Barry’s been so entangled in this mess for so long that he clings to the scraps of normalcy the acting class provides like they’re lifelines — and almost all of them backfire. He’s floored by the fact that Facebook can connect him to an old Marine friend, but quickly finds himself overwhelmed when they meet up and connect with some other veterans who have not exactly readjusted to civilian life. In another less significant but telling example, when Barry gets invited to a party, he doesn’t know what to wear and just buys an entire outfit off a J Crew mannequin.
As Barry tries to figure out how to be a person, Detective Moss (a wonderful Paula Newsome) tries to allow herself to be one. Her arc becomes one of the show’s best and most surprising, especially as she crosses paths with Gene and homes in on Barry. She and Barry are in a game of cat and mouse, alternating roles depending on the episode, and that tension keeps the show moving along at a brisk — and often very stressful — clip.
Even over just eight episodes, the show’s tone goes through several rapid transitions that don’t always land. By the end, however, Barry establishes itself as a uniquely empathetic shot of weirdness that hits its target more often than not.
Barry premieres Sunday, March 25, at 10:30 pm ET on HBO.
Bill Hader is a hitman-turned-actor in the new trailer for HBO’s Barry
- TV Show
Bill Hader is considering a drastic career change in the new trailer for HBO’s Barry.
The new dark comedy stars the Saturday Night Live alum as Barry, a hitman who falls in love with acting when a job sees him go undercover in an acting class taught by Henry Winkler. As the trailer reveals, Barry wants to quit the killing game and pursue his newfound passion, but it doesn’t seem like his old life will let him.
“The acting class made me feel really good. I feel really motivated right now. These are professional actors. They’re the real deal, and they say I’ve got something,” says Barry in the promo.
“You’re a killer, Barry,” replies Barry’s handler, Funches (Stephen Root). “Acting is a direct conflict, being someone who anonymously kills people.”
The series also stars Hindsight‘s Sarah Goldberg as Sally, a student in Barry’s acting class, and Glenn Fleshler (Billions) and Anthony Carrigan (Gotham) as members of the Chechen mob who hired Barry for his latest job. In addition to starring on the show, Hader will make his directorial debut in the first season and also serves as an executive producer alongside Alec Berg (Silicon Valley). The series is produced by Aida Rodgers.
Barry premieres Sunday, March 25 at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO. Watch the trailer above.
|Available For Streaming On||
Season Two of Barry ended in catastrophe. Henry Winkler’s character discovered the truth of his partner’s murder. Sally finally decided to walk away from the oppressive men of her life. Noho Hank became reviled by his compatriots. And, of course, Bill Hader’s Barry went on an insane killing spree and dove headfirst back into the life he’d been trying to escape for the entire series. After the Season Two finale, there’s no going back for our complicated friend Barry Berkman.
While nothing official has been announced about the future of Barry aside from HBO giving Hader and Alec Berg the go-ahead for a Season Three, the pieces are really in place for a devastating follow-up to the lauded dark comedy show. Season Two, which was nominated for seventeen Emmys this year, steered the show ever-closer to a full-on Breaking Bad setup. The show had verged on the nail-biting vibe for Breaking Bad from the very start, but with the ultra-violent finish of the excruciating second season, it seems HBO may finally have something to compete with the legacy of Vince Gilligan’s supremely dark–and wickedly funny–AMC series.
Hader told Collider back in August 2019 that the writing staff would gather in October to begin working on the third season. As he told Collider:
For us, it feels like you’re telling a story chapter by chapter and then you have like a year off between chapters, and people are responding to where it is at this moment. In Alec and I’s mind it’s like we see this kind of bigger story that we’re trying to write, and it’s constantly shifting too. In two weeks I go into an office with Liz Sarnoff, one of our writers, and we just are gonna start working on Season 3 just the two of us while Alec is wrapping up Silicon Valley, then the writers room starts in earnest in October. That’s where my head’s at.
Barry’s cast is one of the main draws for the show. Between Stephen Root’s viciously hilarious run as Monroe Fuches, Sarah Goldberg’s tragic Sally Reed, Henry Winkler as Gene Cousineau, and Anthony Carrigan as the breakout role of Noho Hank, Barry’s got one of the most extraordinary casts on TV right now. And fortunately for fans of the show, all the players mentioned above are set to returning for Season Three.
Hader spoke with The Wrap about Season Three in August as well, and the Emmy-winning producer and co-showrunner seems about as confused as we are, in terms of what, exactly, may happen next for Barry Berkman. “I have no idea,” he said. “We like to write ourselves into a corner and then kind of go, ‘Well, geez, I don’t know what’s going to happen now.’ We don’t know but I think we’re always in good stead when we say, ‘What would the character do?’”
HBO still hasn’t confirmed when the series will return. But, both seasons one and two premiered at the end of March, so all signs are pointing toward a March 2020 premiere for Season Three. With Game of Thrones over, it’s anyone’s guess as to what HBO’s next big show will be. Barry is certainly positioned to crush yet again–but there’s also Watchmen, the formidable new series by Damon Lindelof, which premieres in October 20, 2019.
Let’s hope wherever Hader and Berg take Season Three, they’re able to keep Noho Hank together in one piece. The character is a national treasure.
Dom Nero Dom Nero is a staff video editor at Esquire, where he also writes about film, comedy, and video games.
The 20 Best TV Shows of 2019: ‘Fleabag,’ ‘Watchmen,’ and More
There were times in 2019 when television didn’t seem like a pleasure as much as it did a full-on assault.
The hashtag #TooMuchTV was slapped on the still-hard-to-believe statistic that well over 500 scripted series alone aired this year, a fact so overwhelming that many TV fans ducked for cover by retreating back to old favorites. To wit, some of the biggest TV hits of the year were the old sitcoms—Friends, The Office, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory—that were scooped up by streaming services for astronomical fees.
Yet even with palpable skepticism as to whether the boom of streaming services is necessary or tenable, it was an unprecedented time for great television. The original running list of shows to consider for a “Best of the Year” list stopped just short of 100 at 96 series. My draft of a Top 20 changed more than a dozen times, and likely would be different if I were finalizing it tomorrow rather than today.
It’s striking, though maybe unsurprising, that near the top of the list it became almost impossible to extricate what I considered the best shows of the year from the turbulence of the time we’re watching them in—specifically what they contribute to the discourse of the era and how they help us navigate our own feelings about it.
In that respect, I found myself appreciating a short-form children’s series featuring Forky from Toy Story more than that aggravating final season of Game of Thrones…
20. Forky Asks a Question (Disney+) and Couples Therapy (Showtime)
It’s both a cheat and cheeky to have a tie, and for that tie to be these two programs. But these shows have more in common than you’d think! (Bear with me.) Forky Asks a Question is a children’s show based on the popular Toy Story 4 character. Forky is grappling with his sentience, in a canny move, alongside the kids the show is targeted at. Episodes ask “What is love?” “What is money?” and “What is a friend?”—existential queries delivered in touching fashion with some of the funniest dialogue and slapstick humor on TV.
It’s a show about the profundity of innocence, in contrast to Couples Therapy, a visceral representation of the frank reality that as we age, our innocence is lost. If Forky is about seeking connection, Couples Therapy reveals the perils of finding it. An intimate, voyeuristic documentation of several New York City couples trying to save their relationships with counseling, the series is a titillating breach of sanctified personal and emotional spaces and, consequently, a riveting agitation of the raw nerves that make all of us tick.
19. Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)
In some respects, this is a career honorarium for the series that, maybe more than any others, redefined television this past decade. Coming soon after Netflix launched House of Cards, it was an even riskier gamble: a series meant to be binged, no major stars, the most diverse ensemble TV had ever seen, tonally audacious in its veering from raucous comedy to stark drama, and with a sociopolitical agenda, specifically when it comes to the underrepresented voices of women, people of color, immigrants, and the incarcerated in America.
But the final season of Netflix’s longest-running original series merits mention on this list in its own right. In typical Orange Is the New Black fashion, the litany of storylines could hit or miss, but were explosively powerful when they connected. Few shows in 2019 went after the inexcusable injustices of ICE and immigrant detention centers as successfully. The brutal realities of racial privilege in America are rarely discussed with such frankness. Anchoring it all were towering, heartbreaking performances from Danielle Brooks, especially, as well as cast members Laura Gómez, Taylor Schilling, Diane Guerrero, and Natasha Lyonne.
18. On Becoming a God in Central Florida (Showtime)
There are few things more pleasurable than a perfectly suited Kirsten Dunst star vehicle. She is a more interesting actress than, for much of her career, she got credit for, with a peculiar taste in projects. Take On Becoming a God in Central Florida, a series about a broke, widowed mother in the depressing shadows of Orlando in the ’90s who is saddled with her husband’s debt from a pyramid scheme.
The more she tries to extricate herself from the organization, the deeper into it she gets, exposing a disturbing cult to which it’s not hard to draw parallels to Scientology. It’s a deeply weird, deeply addicting show, anchored by a dynamo performance from Dunst—the kind of series this influx of television content is supposed to surface, but so rarely does.
17. Documentary Now! (IFC)
What tickles me about Documentary Now! is that it shouldn’t really appeal to anyone. Each episode is a meticulous, specific homage to a niche cult documentary. You can’t even really call them satires. They’re celebratory recreations that nail the tone and whatever the “thing” is about each one that inspired such passionate fan bases, managing to be funny while saying something about art and humanity at the same time.
The series, from Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Rhys Thomas, is three seasons in at this point, but some of its best, most ridiculously entertaining episodes yet came this year, especially “Original Cast Album: Co-Op,” inspired by the notorious 1970 documentary featuring the original cast of Company, and Cate Blanchett in one of the TV performances of the year as a Marina Abramovic-type artist in “Waiting cor the Artist.”
“You can’t even really call them satires. They’re celebratory recreations that nail the tone and whatever the ‘thing’ is about each one that inspired such passionate fan bases, managing to be funny while saying something about art and humanity at the same time.”
16. Back to Life (Showtime)
There was a lot of noise being made on TV this year, with massive series saying farewell and buzzworthy breakout hits whirling new hurricanes of fandom and debate. So there’s a certain kind of pleasure, and almost singular achievement, in a show like Back to Life, a quiet, confidently devastating series that aired in Fleabag’s former U.K. time slot before coming to the U.S. on Showtime.
Created by, written by, and starring Daisy Haggard, the series centers on a woman returning to her small hometown after serving 18 years in prison for a violent crime. Questions about how we vilify women who have done something bad versus how we would treat a man, and who merits forgiveness, are considered, but all with a biting humor that keeps the show from being pedantic or moralizing—instead just deeply fascinating.
15. Russian Doll (Netflix)
Russian Doll is a series in which the same day is lived over and over again, Groundhog Day-style. Yet with each successive episode—sometimes even new scene—new layers are slyly unveiled: sometimes funny, sometimes incredibly sad, often trippy, and almost unsettlingly surprising.
Co-creators Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, and Amy Poehler did the thing all creators should venture to do: Make something that no one else besides them could make, let alone make this well. And what they made was an energizing, engrossing series that doubled as an unexpected look into the cyclical nature of addiction, depression, existential crises, and emotional breakdowns. Season Two is coming, and I can’t wait to do it all again.
14. Schitt’s Creek (Pop TV)
It’s almost revolutionary, based on recent trends in TV comedy, where darkness and cynicism seem like more of a directive than humor and laughs, to create a series after which the audience just feels… nice. That they’ve had a happy experience. That’s purposeful on Schitt’s Creek, which father-son creators Daniel and Eugene Levy developed as a place where bigotry and even cruelty do not exist.
The trick is that their world doesn’t even really seem utopian, but shockingly close to an existence we could actually enjoy if we only bothered to try. Some of the most quotable dialogue on TV; big, swoon-inducing feelings; and ace comedic turns from Catherine O’Hara, Annie Murphy, and the Levy duo prove that earnestness can still produce excellence.
13. Veep (HBO)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ performance in any season of Veep alone could get the series a mention on any year’s Best TV list. But the stakes were high for the final season of the HBO comedy, which never should have worked as well as it did during the Trump administration, and certainly shouldn’t have been able to stick the landing after such audacious comedic acrobatics in its final season. In response to the lunacy in the actual White House, which has made any sort of political satire soberingly difficult, and even unfunny, Veep responded by pivoting from playful to exceedingly dark.
As viciously profane as ever, the final episodes doubled down on the moral bankruptcy of its characters. It’s a confrontational reflection of ourselves we see in the show’s funhouse mirror: the disconnect between policy and people, and the disregard for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when all that matters is the pursuit of power. The system is broken, and the fate of our country is in the hands of the lunatics depraved enough to wade through the shards of glass.
12. Better Things (FX)
The third season of Better Things was a test case necessitated by grotesque, unfair circumstances. The show’s existence and, arguably, much of its original creative voice was owed to Louis C.K., who personally recommended his longtime creative partner Pamela Adlon for her own show at FX and had executive producer and co-writing credits on nearly every episode. When the network cut ties with him after he admitted to exposing himself and masturbating in front of women without their consent, critics wondered what it would mean for Adlon’s sensational series.
It’s always been a product of her voice and taste, down to the fact that she wears her own clothes as her character, Sam, and the spectacular, Louis C.K.-less third season proved just how assured that voice is. There’s nothing particularly linear about the narrative in Better Things, which has been described in the past as a “tone poem” of a TV series. We get little snapshots of moments in Sam’s life, yet each glimpse is so fully realized and emotionally rich that you see whole story lines immediately—whole lifetimes, really.
11. The Good Fight (CBS All-Access)
When it premiered in February 2017, The Good Fight was the first scripted TV series to acknowledge not only the existence of Donald Trump in its fictional universe, but the effect his winning the presidency had on the psyches of nervous Americans, politically engaged liberals, especially. The CBS All-Access drama’s third season proved that no other series could eviscerate Trump better. But it also reassured that the show had a steady hand on the ways in which our feelings about living through a Trump presidency has evolved—or, maybe more accurately, devolved.
It gets how we weather news cycles in alternating states of delirium and anger. Shrewdly, the season integrated a bit of both-sides critique, sending up the hypocrisy and inefficacy of liberal resistance extremists. With standout performances from Christine Baranski, Audra MacDonald, and Delroy Lindo, the show embraces the surreality we all feel with outrageous hallucinatory sequences—it’s maybe the only show in 2019 in which a character performed a monologue about toxic masculinity to a bruise that morphs into the face of Trump—but never loses its grip on the gravity of what is happening and how it makes us feel.
10. The Other Two (Comedy Central)
The story is that former Saturday Night Live head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider were inspired to create The Other Two after Justin Bieber hosted the show and missed rehearsals because the raw-egg diet managers put him on made him sick. Their Comedy Central series is elevated from that anecdote: A brother and sister on the older side of the millennial spectrum are both struggling for career success in New York when their much younger brother, Chase, becomes a YouTube celebrity. Suddenly, they must grapple with being overshadowed by their 13-year-old brother.
It’s impeccable showbiz satire coming at a transitional time in the industry that is deceptively hard to send up. But it’s also a heartfelt examination of two bumbling adults leaning on each other as their grace period for “figuring things out” reaches an expiration date. The writing is deliciously salty, the relationships endearing sweet—“Chase Gets the Gays” may be the best “Very Special Gay Episode” of a sitcom I’ve ever seen—and the performances from Drew Tarver, Heléne Yorke, and especially Molly Shannon as their mother, are spectacular.
9. Barry (HBO)
There was so much about the initial premise of Barry that seemed too high-concept to ever be taken seriously. An experienced hitman wants to leave the biz to pursue acting, despite having no experience or discernible talent. Episodes would straddle both worlds, the violent nature of hit jobs and the goofiness of a low-rent Los Angeles acting school headed by Henry Winkler. More, it would be Saturday Night Live alum Bill Hader taking on this dark, tortured lead role.
Its extraordinary first season threaded all those elements together with a shrewd handle on how moral ambiguity and frustration guided Hader’s Barry. Season Two deepened the story, focusing on Barry’s struggle to escape his past, all the while lending more nuance to each of the compelling supporting characters’ own existential journeys. This all happened while the series continued its track record of being one of the most visually arresting and aesthetically daring half-hour series on TV, best exemplified by the wild, buzzy outing “ronny/lily.”
8. Leaving Neverland (HBO)
The two-part documentary series Leaving Neverland, chronicling the allegations of two men who say Michael Jackson raped them while they were children, arrived like a seismic event. It is not the first time allegations like these were made against Jackson. But there was something about the disturbing specificity with which accusers Wade Robson and James Safechuck describe what they claim Jackson did to them and the space with which director Dan Reed gave them to explain how the trauma has lingered and affected every aspect of their lives since. It was the most damning indictment of Jackson yet.
There is obvious impact in the shocking, grotesque nature of the sex acts that Robson and Safechuck describe, which allegedly began when Robson was 7 and Safechuck was 9. But also unsettling were their accounts of how Jackson brainwashed them into keeping the secret and covering up his tracks, and how the singer’s celebrity and the global adoration of him contributed to their families trust in him and his ability to outlast decades of pedophilia rumors.
It’s a documentary that doubles as a cultural reckoning: Fans, from the militant “truthers” who maintain Jackson’s innocence to those who simply like his music, are forced to wrestle with the greatest entertainer of all time’s legacy—and whether they can ever listen to his music again.
7. Unbelievable (Netflix)
Unbelievable is a timely, at times thrilling, and most of all rage-inducing telling of negligence, institutional misogyny, and injustice, mirroring its incredible source material: the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation “An Unbelievable Story of Rape.”
An 18-year-old girl reports a rape to the police, but during insensitive interrogations by male detectives is coerced into recanting her story, leading to her public flogging as the girl who cried wolf. It’s only after the unlikely collaboration of two female detectives in a different state and their dogged investigation into a serial rapist that they not only catch the perpetrator, but vindicate the original young girl.
Featuring focused, fantastic acting work from Kaitlyn Dever, as well as Toni Collette and Merritt Wever as the detectives, the Netflix limited series resists temptations to sensationalize or exploit in the name of more cinematic drama. Instead, its brisk, no-frills style contributes a fittingly journalistic approach to telling the story, using the audience’s own burning desire for justice as the spark for the fireworks the investigation deserves.
6. When They See Us (Netflix)
You can credit the brilliant Ava DuVernay’s epic approach to telling the story of the men who are now the Exonerated Five for stoking feelings of shame and inspiration at the same time. Her brilliant flourishes never distract from or disguise the brutal integrity of the story being told: of five young boys from Harlem, all boys of color, who were falsely convicted of rape in 1989 and spent years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit because of the failure of racist institutions, media, and the justice system to protect them.
After spending nearly half their lifetimes in jail under the collective branding of the Central Park Five, Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, and Raymond Santana’s stories are now given the dignity of context, emotion, and truth. DuVernay ensures that their stories are bathed in the beauty that they deserve and, more, that they land with the kind of shattering impact they were owed 30 years ago.
5. PEN15 (Hulu)
At face value, it’s a cute gimmick. Collaborators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle revisit the awkward, thrilling trauma of weathering their seventh-grade year and the stresses it puts on girls’ friendship, but do so by actually inserting themselves back into the scenarios they suffered through as pubescent tweens in the year 2000. They are women in their early thirties portraying 12-year-olds and acting alongside an entire cast of actual, age-appropriate children. The gimmick definitely lands. That it ends up being so much more is the big surprise.
You reflexively cringe and your heart shatters into a million pieces at any given moment. It’s the emotional specificity with which they recreate the toxic incubator of insecurities and cruelty that is a middle-school hallway; its way in which it validates the massive, almost unmanageable feelings of that time. It’s the way in which everyone, young girls especially, feel finally seen. PEN15 is both a hilarious comedy and a horror show, bridging the genres with a simultaneously uncomfortable and cathartic reflection of the human spirit at its most brittle stage of development.
“There are moments from the show that burrow into your consciousness, stalking you and plaguing you with anxiety and sullenness—much like the experience of watching the news.”
4. Years and Years (HBO)
When it feels like the world is burning, it’s not the greatest comfort to turn on a series that reveals that it’s unlikely that the fire will be extinguished and, in fact, might even become an inferno the likes of which we wouldn’t dare even imagine. That’s the experience of watching Years and Years, the limited series from Russell T. Davies that begins with a close-knit British family attempting to reconcile the deplorable state of the world. It then hurtles into the near future of 2024, where we see the international implications of the xenophobic, economically disastrous, environment-decimating policies enacted by world leaders, especially Trump.
It’s a nihilistic depiction of the future, particularly in its seeming inevitability. There’s an episode centered on the lengths that a same-sex couple, one of whom is a Ukrainian refugee, must go through to be together that may rank as the most viscerally upsetting piece of television I have watched in my career. There are moments from the show that burrow into your consciousness, stalking you and plaguing you with anxiety and sullenness—much like the experience of watching the news.
Years and Years, then, is both a cautionary tale and a harsh mirror, tapping into recognizable, inescapable feelings of today: the paranoia, the frustration, the anger, and, maybe most of all, the notion of being trapped.
3. Succession (HBO)
It shouldn’t be so satisfying to watch smug rich assholes behaving so deplorably. It should be the antithesis of anything we would enjoy in 2019, when it’s impossible to escape the tyranny of those people in our everyday lives. Yet there’s a Shakespearean elegance to Succession and the swagger with which it navigated its adrenaline-packed second season that doesn’t just explode the idea that we shouldn’t be enjoying it, but makes a case for its cultural necessity.
It juggles themes that are constantly on our minds, frustrating and depressing us on an eternal loop: wealth and privilege, power and corruption, political cronyism, culpability, misogyny, the media and spin, capitalism and commodity, sex, entitlement, and dynastic chokeholds. The show then lavishes these things with dialogue so winking and perverse it borders on trolling, and a kind of production value that can only be described as sumptuous. These embellishments all counterbalance its insistence on playing its characters straight, without judgment. And how about that season finale?
2. Watchmen (HBO)
When all is said and done, the first season of Watchmen could go down not just as one of the decade’s best, but maybe even one of the all-time greats. There’s a bit of recency bias there, of course. The season finale aired just days before this Best TV list published. But even applying the skepticism of objectivity, it’s hard not to fawn over a series that met this much storytelling and visual ambition with this much assured confidence in its execution.
It’s daring on its own to approach the hallowed Watchmen universe for a series that brings its characters and mythologies to modern day. And who knows where Damon Lindelof developed not just the insight, but the cajones, to use the graphic novel’s story Bible as a launching pad for interrogating issues of race and policing in America today. Threading the two asked for faith from viewers, but taking the leap wasn’t hard when there were was such mesmerizing style in how it was all put together.
Any list of the year’s best episodes would be top-heavy with Watchmen outings: “The Extraordinary Being,” “A God Walks Into Abar,” “Little Fear of Lightning,” or “She Was Killed by Space Junk.” But taken as a whole, the season is a singular, spectacular achievement.
1. Fleabag (Amazon)
Of course Fleabag is at the top of this list. Ignoring the fact that it is, minute-by-minute and frame-by-frame, an example of creative near-perfection, the way in which the second season of a small, auteur British comedy managed to explode into the zeitgeist at the prodigious scale Phoebe Waller-Bridge and the series did in this past year is an achievement unlikely to be replicated again in this age of #TooMuchTV.
The wit with which Waller-Bridge manages to explore a person’s humanity, in this case her semi-aimless title character, and use that to amplify bubbling feelings society is grappling with, marks the kind of once-in-a-generation voice we clamor for but don’t even know we’ve discovered until the truths they are speaking confront us head-on. Fleabag explores feelings both basic (What makes a person happy?) and complex (When are they allowed to pursue it?), attempting hope even when arriving at wrenching heartbreak (What if we know what we want, but aren’t allowed to have it?).
Dismiss all the heady praise for What the Show Means or What It Says About Us, and you still have the best one-act play of the year in the second season premiere’s dinner party, the best sibling relationship on TV between Waller-Bridge and co-star Sian Clifford, impeccable directing, and the kind of phenomenal acting performance that births a phenomenon, courtesy of Andrew Scott’s “Hot Priest.” Where would we have been in 2019 without the Hot Priest?
The Bill Hader comedy series Barry was a breakout hit and up for several Emmys. But can fans watch the show on Netflix?
Since the Emmy Awards are on tonight, many TV fans will be wondering where to watch the nominees, especially the ones that have got a lot of buzz outside of the award season. One of the top comedies this year is the HBO original series, Barry.
Barry is a dark comedy series that is the brainchild of Alec Berg and Bill Hader. The two came together to conceive a show about a Midwestern resident, named Barry and played by Bill Hader, that is also an assassin. Barry sets out to Los Angeles to rack up his next kill but ends up getting caught up in the local arts scene. This, of course, leads to some high levels of comedy, and dealing with such dark material as assassination makes the show a little heavy too.
Barry is nominated for six Emmy awards.
The nominations include, Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Bill Hader, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Henry Winkler, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series with Bill Hader directing the first episode “Chapter One: Make Your Mark” and the series got two nominations for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series with Alec Berg and Bill Hader writing the first episode and Liz Sarnoff writing the seventh episode “Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast and Keep Going.”
Can you watch Barry on Netflix?
Unfortunately, for Netflix members, Barry can only be watched on HBO, HBO Now and HBO Go. The network doesn’t make their titles available to Netflix so people subscribe to their channel and streaming services instead.
Barry has already made some noise critically by having high ratings on IMDB at 8.1/10 and a powerful 98 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It also was nominated for seven Creative Arts Emmy Awards and won one. It took home the Outstanding Sound Mixing of a Comedy or Drama Series and Animation for “Chapter Seven: Loud, Fast and Keep Going.”
This already powerful success leads me to believe that Barry has the potential to walk away with at least one more Emmy. Watch the Emmy’s live tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Red Carpet coverage will begin on E! Network at 6 p.m. ET, so make sure to tune in and keep up to date.
Where to watch and stream HBO’s Barry – is the dark comedy on NOW TV?
Dark, action-packed and very funny, HBO’s quirky comedy about a hitman-turned-acting student won Emmy awards for its lead actor, Saturday Night Live star Bill Hader, as well as supporting actor Henry Winkler. With a third series in the offing and an audience starting to build in the UK, this is a contender for Next Big Binge. Here’s everything you need to know to start watching.
Where can I watch Barry?
Series one of Barry is available to stream via NOW TV, iTunes, Sky On Demand and Amazon Prime. Series two is available for purchase on the Sky Store and via Amazon Prime.
What is Barry about?
When hitman and former US Marine Barry travels from the Midwest to LA to carry out a job, he tracks his target to an acting class, which he decides to join. Barry finds himself unexpectedly at home in the LA theatre community, but still has a job to do for a demanding —and threatening— Chechen mob.
As Barry struggles with his dual identities, the themes raised in the class’s plays lead Barry to question his life choices, although his criminal activity does seem to help his budding acting career, as well as his relationship with fellow student Sally.
How many seasons of Barry are there?
Two seasons have aired and HBO has renewed the show for a third season.
When will Barry return to TV?
No official release date has been announced, but series one and two were released in March 2018 and March 2019, respectively, so March 2020 seems like a good bet for series three.
Who is in the cast of Barry?
The title character is played by Bill Hader, who rose to fame during his eight-year tenure on Saturday Night Live. Hader, who also co-wrote Barry with Alec Berg (The Dictator, Curb Your Enthusiasm), starred opposite Amy Schumer in Trainwreck.
Stephen Root (NewsRadio, Boardwalk Empire) plays Monroe Fuches, the family friend who introduces Barry to the criminal underworld.
Canadian-born London stage actor Sarah Goldberg plays Sally Reed, Barry’s love interest and fellow theatre student.
Glenn Fleshler (Hannibal) plays Chechen mob boss Goran Pazar. His right-hand man, NoHo Hank, is played by Gotham’s Anthony Carrigan.
Legendary actor and OBE recipient Henry Winkler stars as acting class leader Gene Cousineau.
Where is Barry filmed?
Barry is filmed in Los Angeles, primarily at Sony Pictures Studios. Locations also include the Allen Street Theater, Residual’s Tavern, Century City Towers, and Dockweiler Beach.
The Second Golden Age of Television may have given us some of the best hourlong dramas ever made, from The Sopranos to Mad Men to The Wire, but this era of Prestige TV has also elevated the half-hour format. Series like 30 Rock or Parks and Recreation have pushed the boundaries of what was possible for a network sitcom, while cable half-hours like Atlanta and Girls blur the lines between drama and comedy altogether. It’s a great time to be making television because the sky’s the limit when it comes to creating original stories in ambitious ways, but that doesn’t mean making something that’s both truly unique and genuinely entertaining has to come with high costs or outlandish concepts. One of the best and most surprising debuts in recent memory is Barry, the new half-hour HBO comedy created by Bill Hader and Silicon Valley alum Alec Berg, which is beautifully streamlined and incredibly well-made, with tonal twists and turns that will have you laughing and emotionally moved in equal measure.
The setup for Barry appears to be pretty straightforward, and on the surface it seems like a funny enough way to spend half an hour of your time. Hader plays the titular character, a hitman and former Marine who operates out of the Midwest and excels at his job, but who also finds the profession taking a serious mental and emotional toll. When he follows a mark to Los Angeles, Barry stumbles into an acting class and is forced to perform in a scene opposite the mark. Suddenly he feels alive for the first time in who knows how long, and he decides he’s going to leave the hitman game behind. But as he quickly finds out, that’s easier said than done.
Image via HBO
Again, that’s a funny setup for a comedy, but part of the brilliance of Barry is that story and narrative matter. Barry is hired by a pair of Chechen mobsters in the first episode, played by True Detective alum Glenn Fleshler and Anthony Carrigan in the scene-stealing role of Noho Hank (seriously, Carrigan is incredible in this show). In any other version of this series, these characters might simply serve as the starting point, and each week Barry gets deep into trouble with a new hit and new problems. In Hader and Berg’s version, however, what happens in the first episode reverberates throughout the entire first season, telling a singular story that gets deeper, richer, and more intense as it rolls along. These mobsters aren’t there to serve up a couple punchlines and then exit the series for good; they’re characters that have a significant bearing on the plot, and their own arcs play out in surprising ways as the story progresses.
This makes Barry’s character arc all the more intriguing. Acting is about truth, and in this acting class Barry finds himself surrounded by a community of people searching for their own truth. There’s plenty of comedy mined here about the L.A. theater community, and the ensemble rises to the occasion no matter how big or small a role they have to play in this series. Sarah Goldberg, for instance, plays a potential romantic interest for Barry named Sally. But instead of taking this role down a cliché route, Sally’s story goes in a surprising direction that itself is a reflection of the overall narrative. Her choices may not be what’s expected, but they make perfect sense in the context of the story being told. And then there’s Henry Winkler, a national treasure to be sure, but who does some of the best work of his career as acting teacher Gene Cousineau. He imbues the guy with an irresistible mix of charm, confidence, and oddly warm-hearted dickishness.
Image via HBO
The entire series is a tightrope walk, but Barry balances it beautifully. It’s not so oppressively dark so as to render the comedic scenes in bad taste, and it’s also not so outlandish that it detracts from the emotional weight of the more dramatic scenes. As the season goes on and the stakes grow more intense, Barry himself starts going through a crisis of conscious. Those who saw the 2014 indie The Skeleton Twins won’t be surprised to know that Hader is a terrific dramatic actor, but what he does towards the end of this season is truly jaw-dropping. This is not a “good for a comedy actor” or “good for the writer/director/actor” performance. Bill Hader delivers a phenomenal performance in this show, full stop. It’s rich, layered, and complex, and he navigates the swings in tone beautifully.
Hader not only serves as the star, co-showrunner, and writer of the series, but he also directs the first three episodes. Those who watch TCM may already be aware that Hader is not only hilarious, but also a bona fide cinephile with a genuine passion for filmmaking. That bleeds through this entire series, as he helms the first three episodes with the confidence, precision, and verve of a veteran filmmaker with decades of experience. The handle on tone alone is noteworthy, but Hader also takes a cinematic approach to crafting the series visually that doesn’t distract from the story at hand. Instead, through motivated camera moves and both character and theme-driven shot composition, Hader uses the camera to enrich the story. It’s a motif that persists throughout the first season, with Maggie Carey (The To Do List), Hiro Murai (Atlanta), and Berg directing the rest of the episodes with the same confident eye.