Barry: Season 4, “you’re charming” – TV Review

“you’re charming”

  • Creator: Alec Berg and Bill Hader
  • Starring: Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, Stephen Root, Henry Winkler, Anthony Carrigan

Grade: A-

Here’s why Bill Hader is a great director, and why he’s such a perfect fit for the tone of Barry: he’s great at the showier bits of action like in the motorcycle chase in last season’s 710N or in last week’s spinning table sequence, but he’s also great at mining comedy out of the material. Sometime’s in comedy, it can be just as effective to not show a joke as it can be to do so. Consider the sequence early on in you’re charming when Gene and Tom (Fred Melamed) are discussing how drastic it would be if Gene were to talk to the press. Rather than show the moment when Gene breaks the news, Hader cuts away to show the hilariously dramatic aftermath.

Basically everything with Gene and Tom is a scream this week, from the aforementioned scene to their characteristically stupid break-in at Lon O’Neil’s home. Here’s again where Hader’s comedic sensibility comes into play, as Tom is seen in the background throwing a computer into the pool while Gene is informed that Lon has already gone to Moss’s home. Of course, I thought the worst of Lon’s encounter with Moss – especially when Gene arrives to see him spraying the inside of his trunk – but the outcome is much funnier, with Lon apparently only able to speak in German now. Lord only knows what kind of powers Moss has to pull off such a feat, but good on Hader, and episode writer Emma Barrie, for giving us less.

Barry; HBO Max

I’ve heard a lot of talk since the end of season three about how Barry is only a comedy because of Emmy categorization. While it’s true that there is a lot of darkness within the show, and within you’re charming, I’ve laughed out loud at least once in each episode so far this season – and many times last season.

Even some of the understated bits in the episode are humorous, like Sally’s new glasses while she’s teaching the acting class. (The show’s costumes have always been an undersung bit of genius, but this season has been extra great so far.) It’s the perfect touch for Sally, who likely thinks the specs will make her look more distinguished, more experienced. But it’s more than the space that Sally seems to have inherited from Gene; it’s the demeaning attitude as well, which she uses to unleash on one of her new and, admittedly terrible, students. It’s a terrifying moment for Sally, but it’s surprisingly not out of character for her, who was likely subjected to the same treatment in her early days as an actor.

Barry; HBO Max

Besides the blocking at Lon O’Neil’s home, Hader blocks the interrogation scene between Barry and the FBI for maximum comedic effect. Seeing him and Fred Armisen together again was a delight, though I wish Armisen could have stuck around for a while longer before getting his hand blown off. (Was that the famous Rip Torn prop gun or was it something else? If so, chef’s kiss for several seasons of setup.) 

Barry’s going full scorched earth with Gene now that he’s spreading the word about their history together, which was a surprising development. In the season premiere, Gene was the first phone call that Barry made. Yes, that call didn’t end jovially, but for Barry to turn so hard against him was unexpected. It’s not a deal breaker though since everyone within the Barry universe generally makes hairpin emotional turns, but I wonder how much Barry’s quest for revenge will factor into the rest of the season. Barry had been making decent strides in his quest for forgiveness, but his insistence that the FBI take Sally into Witness Protection – whether that deal was actually legitimate or not – without consulting her first is problematic. Maybe he’s hanging his hat a little too much on Sally’s “I feel safe with you” line from last week, but I would think it’s at least good manners to consult someone before they’re forced to upend their life and go on the run with a convicted murderer.

Barry; HBO Max

Each installment of this season so far has been solid as usual, but you’re charming feels like the show really hitting its stride. It’s got the dramatic darkness with both Barry and Sally, and it’s got the comedic moments with Tom and Gene. Maybe it’s just my sense of humor, but the end result with Lon’s encounter with Moss is both incredibly dark and incredibly funny. And, perhaps most crucially, the cliffhanger of the episode also feels like vintage Barry, leaving open a whole world of possibilities.

Barry will air new episodes on HBO Sundays at 10pm

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