With Season 3, 'Barry' Has Levelled Up to Become One of the Best Shows on TV

Created Alec Berg and Bill Hader

Starring Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Henry Winkler, Stepen Root, Anthony Carrigan, Sarah Burns, D'Arcy Carden

Photo: Merrick Morton / HBO

BY Alex HudsonPublished Jun 14, 2022

Like Dexter Morgan and Walter White before him, Barry Berkman has spent every episode of his show living a double life, putting up a front of normalcy while hiding his criminal activities from those closest to him and digging himself a deeper hole with each transgression.

That tension comes to a head on Barry's ruthless third season, when Bill Hader's killer-for-hire character increasingly clashes with those closest to him. Barry's assassination manager Fuches (Stephen Root) has turned on him and is alerting the families of past victims, while acting coach Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) now knows that his girlfriend was killed by his student. Barry's girlfriend, Sally (Sarah Goldberg), hasn't yet caught on, although Barry's weird behaviour is becoming increasingly impossible to ignore. The childlike NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) is involved in a high-stakes relationship with a member of the Bolivian Mafia, a storyline that's continually delightful despite the brutal violence at every turn.

But what makes Barry's third season so gripping isn't the plot, which is fairly similar to past seasons, but rather the way the show has levelled up in every other way. The performances are visceral, pushing actors to the limits of intense emotion. In particular, Goldberg delivers an absolutely star-making performance, her heartbreaking moments of vulnerability giving way to intense outbursts of rage and fear. She's a raw nerve of emotion, and it's thrilling to watch the contortions in her face.

The humour is similarly on point — both in the surgical precision with which Barry skewers Hollywood's self-absorption, and in the way it makes room for inane moments of ridiculousness. At several moments, the camera lingers on a bystander, giving them a moment to deliver a perfect zinger for no purpose other than that it's funny. (Just before a violent raid, a random woman delivers a line about a date ordering a glass of milk with dinner, a joke that will stick with me possibly forever.) 

There's also a long motorcycle chase scene in Episode 6 — a simply mind-blowing race through the streets of Los Angeles that plays out entirely without music, quick cuts or glitzy effects. It's the most exciting chase scene I've seen on screen in ages, precisely because it's so unadorned.

With this lean run of eight 30-minute episodes, Barry has gone from a solid dark comedy to one of TV's best all-around shows. The stakes are so high that it feels like a series finale; the show has been renewed for a fourth season, although this season is so satisfying that it's almost impossible to imagine where it goes from here.

Latest Coverage