Emmy Award-winning Palisadian Bill Hader, from “Saturday Night Live” and “Documentary Now!” fame, returns with another season of his critically acclaimed series “Barry” on HBO.
The show, co-created by Hader and writer/producer legend Alec Berg (“Seinfeld,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm”), follows the exploits of Barry Berkman, a Midwestern marine-turned-hitman-turned-thespian, as he travels to Los Angeles on a hit job only to inadvertently fall into the local theater arts scene.
Barry, the show’s eponymous protagonist played by Hader, juggles his criminal lifestyle with the pursuit of his new-found calling: acting. Meanwhile, he is being pursued for professional negligence on a hit job by a ruthless Chechen criminal organization, along with Bolivian gangsters, and two detectives: Moss, played by Paula Newsome (“Reign Over Me”) and Loach, played by John Pirruccello (“Twin Peaks”).
Barry’s arine-budy-turned-handler Monroe Fuches, played by Stephen Root (“King of the Hill”), and Chechen mob envoy NoHo Hank, played by Anthony Carrigan (“Gotham”), recruit him for a hit on rising star Ryan Madison, who is having an affair with the wife of Chechen mob boss Goran Pazar, played by Glen Fleshler (“True Detective”).
Henry Winkler (“Arrested Development,” “Happy Days”), plays the hilariously idiosyncratic Gene Cousineau, who teaches an overpriced acting class full of Hollywood hopefuls. Here, Barry, trying to find Madison, ends up meeting his love interest Sally Reed, played by up-and-comer Sarah Goldberg. Season one included eight episodes, consistently clocking in over half a million viewers for each episode.
The show earned two primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Hader’s performance as Barry and outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for Winkler’s performance as Gene Cousineau. Season one currently holds a 99 average approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes with an average audience score of 84 percent, and an 8.1/10 on IMDB.
“Barry,” crafted by some of the best minds in the biz, features episodes written by Hader, Berg, Emily Heller (“Crowded”), Ben Smith (“Santa Clarita Diet”), actress/writer Sarah Solemani, Duffy Boudreau “(Big Mouth”) and Liz Sarnoff (“Lost,” “Alcatraz”).
Season two will feature episodes written by Taofik Kolade (“Atlanta”) and Jason Kim (“Girls”). The show also features episodes directed by Minkie Spiro (“Downton Abbey”) and Liza Johnson (“American Horror Story”), and music video titan Hiro Murai.
Hader also recently did a guest appearance on a March 2 “SNL” sketch, “What’s That Name?”, in which he plays game show host Vince Blight.
“The rules are simple—we show you a person, you tell us their name,” Blight said.
Contests Doug (writer/comedian John Mulaney, host of the March 2 show) and Courtney (Cecily Strong) are asked to identify close acquaintances whose names they should know but don’t, including a best friend’s girlfriend, a boss’s wife and a spouse’s bridesmaid. The sketch went viral and had fans lamenting that Hader is no longer a full-timer on the show.
A day later, March 3, Hader was featured in an extensive Letter From Hollywood, “Bill Hader Kills,” by New Yorker staff writer Ted Friend, who lauded Hader’s performance not just as the star of “Barry,” but as its writer and director. Friend’s piece also noted that most nights Hader “stays home in the Pacific Palisades to watch ‘The Simpsons’ with his kids, or work his way through the Polish film canon by himself.”
The second season of “Barry” has a lot to live up to, with New York Times TV critic James Poniewozik calling the season one finale “so good it made me never want to watch the show again.” But with monumental talents like Hader, Berg and Murai at the helm, and with the possibility of some major plot shifts, fans of the first season will undoubtedly be tuning in for another binge-worthy spectacle.
If it’s anything like the ceremonial first pitch Hader threw out to commence the 2015 Pacific Palisades Baseball Association season, “Barry” season two is sure to sail right over home plate.