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The HBO produced the comedy, "Barry" has been a critical and commercial success for the network since the pilot episode aired in 2018 and returned for a second season in 2019. "Barry" was created by "Saturday Night Live" contributor, Bill Hader and Alec Berg with the pair maintaining creative control of the sitcom over its two seasons.
The titular "Barry" is a former U.S. Marine who has been left with little options since returning to civilian life. Using the skills he learned in the military, "Barry" has become a hitman working for any individuals willing to pay him for murder. Eventually, "Barry" is employed by members of the Chechen Mafia who are looking to have an aspiring actor in Hollywood killed. "Barry" receives the order to kill the actor while in the Midwest and is told the Chechen leader, Goran, believes the actor is sleeping with his girlfriend and must pay for his indiscretion.
Setting off for Hollywood, "Barry" believes this will be an easy job which pays well and will help him to find his way out of the work he has found himself involved in. Obviously in a depressive state, "Barry" finds himself unhappy with his life choices and explains how and why he became an assassin when he returned home from Afghanistan after a long, arduous tour of duty. The unhappiness "Barry" feels about his work cannot be retained despite the obvious thrills the job of an assassin brings with it.
A part of the problem for "Barry" is the fact he is facing another trip across the U.S. claiming he is a traveling auto-salesperson who must spend his time in cheap motels and not enjoy the money he is earning. Upon arriving in Holywood, "Barry" identifies his target, Ryan Madison and follows him to an acting class where the hitman finds himself performing alongside Ryan. The pair strike up and unlikely friendship as they are watched by a member of the Chechen Mob, Noho who has been sent to ensure the hit is completed without issue.
At a bar with the rest of the members of the acting class, the cult-like teacher of the group, Gene tells "Barry" he is a terrible actor and should not pursue a career. However, "Barry" has already met and begun to fall for an actress in the class, Sally, and has discussed continuing in the class. Taking the now drunk Ryan home, "Barry" is confronted by Noho who tells him he must kill the actor or the Chechen Mob will make sure both men die.
"Barry" struggles with his dilemma and spends much of his time considering what to do for the future as he feels the role of an actor brings him the joy he is missing in life. Eventually, "Barry" decides to complete the murder of Ryan to keep the Chechen's off his back but finds he is too late and the Chechen's have already completed the job. "Barry" decides to tell Gene the truth about his job as an assassin, which Gene believes to be an improvised performance and praises the hitman for his commitment to the role. "Barry" must now make some difficult choices about his future career and how to keep himself alive as he is chased by the Chechen Mob.
Bill Hader is one half of the creative force involved in the development of "Barry." Hader began his career in Hollywood as a production assistant on a variety of movies during the early part of the 2000s before joining an improvised comedy group and finding some local success. Eventually, the filmmaker joined the cast of "Saturday Night Live" and went on to star in a number of well-received comedies. Hader believes his role in Judd Atapow's "Superbad" helped raise his profile among members of the public.
Hader's writing and producing partner for "Barry" is Alec Berg. The writer and director are best known for the work he completed n the iconic sitcom, "Seinfeld" and for directing fellow "Seinfeld" alum Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Berg also wrote the screenplays for the movies, "The Dictator" and "The Cat in the Hat."
To bring the character of Gene, the acting teacher to life the role was given to Henry Winkler. The actor sprang to fame as the legendary character Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli. Winkler has appeared in a number of roles on TV in guest form and has appeared in a number of Adam Sandler comedy movies starting with "The Waterboy."
Unlike many HBO shows, "Barry" is not produced by "HBO Original Films" but has been developed by Hanarply and Alex Berg Inc. with distribution by Warner Bros. Television. The show has been in development since 2016 when Berg and Hader pitched the idea to HBO, who commissioned a pilot based on the requirement of Bill Hader starring, directing, and writing the first episode. Hader and Alex Berg worked together to create the show with both men taking writing, directing, and producing credits.
"Barry" is filmed in Los Angeles with the majority of the show filmed on location around the city. Bill Hader has acted as the director on numerous episodes of the sitcom with Alec Berg also directing episodes of the show. "Barry" has been ratings and critical success for the HBO network and was recommissioned for a third season by HBO in 2019 before season two had finished its premiere broadcast.
The show has been given excellent ratings by professional critics and the viewers who have combined to create a strong following for the show across its two completed seasons. The show was given a 99 percent approval rating by Rotten Tomatoes for the first season which improved to 100 percent for season two. Metacritic has been similar in its praise for "Barry" which includes the rating reaching 87 percent and hitting the acclaimed ranking by the website. The dark comedy is certainly worth a look for those who are interested in a comedy which steps outside the confines of everyday life.
HBO did not enjoy some aspects of the initial pilot and asked for reshoots to take place. The main concern for the network was the relationship between "Barry" and his father who added more tension and violence to the show. Executives asked for the father character to be rewritten as a friendly ear for "Barry" to confide in and resulted in almost a year of rewrites and reshoots between the two characters. Another scene needing a reshoot was the pivotal discussion between "Barry" and Gene when he admits his true identity. Eventually, Hader filmed his rewritten scene without Winkler almost a year after their first attempt at the dialog. Hader credits the anxiety felt by "Barry" about his career as being inspired by his hatred of the live aspects of appearing on "Saturday Night Live" which he did not enjoy despite his success.