sarah goldberg (right) as sally reed in barry season 4

Merrick Morton/HBO

‘Barry’s’ brutal takedown of Hollywood and the TV antihero

The fourth and final season is firing on all cylinders.


Michelle Jaworski


Posted on May 11, 2023   Updated on May 12, 2023, 5:12 am CDT

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Barry, HBO’s bleak comedy co-created by Bill Hader and Alec Berg, is—forgive the pun—killing it.

It’s pushed its characters into a corner, watched them squirm out while creating some jaw-dropping visuals and obscenely hilarious gags along the way, and managed to say something about the way the professions depicted in Barry—whether it’s the assassin underbelly that hitman Barry Berkman (Hader) and NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) occupy or the allure of Hollywood for the washed-up Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler) and aspiring actor Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg)—chews you up and spits you out.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

The fourth and final season is firing on all cylinders: Barry is in prison, Sally is navigating the aftermath of a viral scandal and is hit with another, Gene is getting newfound attention after his role in catching Barry, and NoHo Hank just wants a quiet life with his boyfriend, Bolivian mob boss Cristobal (Michael Irby); it’s no surprise that none of it lasts.

In its most recent episode, Barry takes a leaf out ofBreaking Bad and Better Call Saul’s book and pulls off an eight-year time-jump where Barry and Sally are living in the middle of nowhere with new identities and a young son kept in isolation.

Hader has never been shy about his belief Barry isn’t a good guy. But just as impressive is Barry’s incisive skewering of Hollywood

We already saw the grueling nature of press junkets and how Sally’s semi-autobiographical show debuted and got canceled by Netflix’s BanShe’s all-knowing algorithm in just 12 hours. Season 4 ramps it up further when Sally helps an up-and-coming actress nail a big scene in a superhero film directed by Siân Heder (as herself), who somehow found herself here after writing and directing CODA. Hollywood has no room for Sally.

The time jump revealed that Heder’s first superhero film now has a fourth iteration, and the star of another film is only identified by his social media handle.

Perhaps most damningly, given what the WGA is fighting for during the writers’ strike, a fake Hollywood Reporter headline briefly shows up stating: “Uncanny Pictures Releases Teaser for First All AI Generated Feature Length Film, ‘Written, Created, and Produced Completely With AI’, Says Studio Head.”

It’s only fitting that, with just three episodes to go, it’s Hollywood that ties it all together. It’s not until a studio, showing incredible restraint waiting eight years to tell a true-crime story, sets out to make a Barry Berkman biopic—with Cousineau coming out of hiding to consult—that gives Barry a reason to return to his old stomping grounds.

Why it matters

Even if my stress levels might appreciate its end, it will undoubtedly be a very different TV landscape without Barry on the air after May 28. I’ll surely miss those zingers.

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*First Published: May 11, 2023, 6:00 am CDT