Barry

TV review by
Mark Dolan, Common Sense Media
Barry TV Poster Image
Bill Hader's subtle turn best part of dark hit man comedy.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Barry has a conscience and only wants to kill "bad people," but at the end of the day, he's still a killer.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The people Barry meets in acting class are all very supportive of each other as they struggle together trying to break in to the business.

Violence

A dead man is shown with a bullet hole in his head; three people are shot in a car; discussion of stabbing someone in testicles; a man with a machine gun exchanges gunfire with a man wielding two handguns. 

 

Sex

 A man and woman have loud sex; the woman's breasts are visible.

 

Language

"S--t," "f--k," "a--hole," "motherf----r," "d--k." 

 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

People shown drinking in a bar. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Barry is a dark comedy about a depressed hit man who discovers a desire to become an actor. Given the main character's occupation, there's violence and a great deal of rough language. Teens may be interested because it stars Bill Hader of Saturday Night Live fame, but he's playing a much more subdued character here. While audiences expecting his signature comic style may be disappointed, what he does offer here is an interesting departure that's worth a look.

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What's the story?

BARRY, played by Bill Hader, is a depressed ex-Marine who now works as a hit man. When he's hired by a Chechen kingpin to kill a guy who's having an affair with the wife of one his men, Barry tails the guy to an L.A. community college acting class. After being mistaken for a fellow struggling actor, Barry is befriended by Ryan, his supposed target, and the rest of his actor friends, who all tell him he's a natural. Not used to this kind of positive attention, Barry decides he wants to put the hit man life behind him and try his hand at acting. Of course, this doesn't sit too well with his partner who sets up the hits, or with the Chechens.

Is it any good?

Half dark comedy about a hit man trying to find himself and half Hollywood satire about struggling actors and their pompous acting teacher, this series is held together by the subtle gravity of Hader's performance. He does remarkably restrained work here that expertly communicates his character's waywardness and need for purpose. It's a very different kind of role for Hader. That being said, if you're expecting big laughs from the Saturday Night Live alum, Barry may feel like a letdown. Viewers willing to stick with it will experience a show that offers a more sly style of humor as Hader gets the chance to inhabit a real person and use his natural physicality and expressive face to convey a depth of emotion that's surprisingly effective. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about acting as a skill. Why do all the people in the acting class think Barry is such a good actor? What is it about Barry that makes them think he's a "natural"?

  • Barry is paid to kill people. How do the creators of the show make him sympathetic? Can you think of other shows with likable criminals? Why do you think audiences are drawn to characters like this?

TV details

For kids who love dark comedy

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