Why You Should Be Binge-Watching Barry, the Profound Emmy-Winning Crime-Comedy

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Why You Should Be Binge-Watching Barry, the Profound Emmy-Winning Crime-Comedy

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

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n the first episode of HBO’s excellent Barry, its lead Barry Berkman (an underrated but very funny Bill Hader) nonchalantly blurts out how “burnt out” he feels at his job. Regular admission – every overworked employee experiences the monotony – except Barry isn’t a victim of a nine-to-five job. He’s a hitman; death is his business. It’s a hilarious moment because the revelation comes right after Barry coolly bumps someone off.

It’s a rebellious route for a crime-comedy to take, considering the decades of romanticisation of the world of crime we’ve experienced on screen. Take Breaking Bad and Dexter – shows where the leads live a double life: It’s the criminal alter-egos of our heroes that awaken their soul, pump some much-needed adrenaline into their lives. TV crime is traditionally coloured by adventurous yet cut-throat, thrilling yet ruthless undertones. It’s precisely the kind of world-building Barry consciously eschews. If Breaking Bad’s Walter White, a chemistry teacher turned meth lord, felt “most alive” while committing a crime, then Barry is the opposite – exhausted at the unfulfilling task of ending lives. Small wonder it snatched the Emmy for Lead and Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

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