After four seasons, the critically acclaimed HBO Max show Barry has finally come to an end, leaving fans with a giant hitman-sized hole in their TV viewing schedules. The dark comedy crime drama was a perfect mix of humor and murderous rage. Bill Hader stars as a former U.S. Marine and hitman who accidentally ends up in an acting class taught by a man who would become crucial to his life, Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler). What ensues is a wild ride with a criminal wanting to leave the business once he finds a potential new path that invigorates him. But there’s one problem: he has bad guys hunting him down, and none of his new friends know his true identity.
Sound familiar? That’s because the premise shares similarities with other popular shows. If you haven’t seen any of these but you love Barry, they’re all worth a watch.
Arguably one of the best 21st-century series, Breaking Bad has become part of pop culture history. Interestingly, the main character’s arc goes in the opposite direction of Barry’s. Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a high school chemistry teacher living with bitterness over what became of his life and his wasted scientific mind. A terminal cancer diagnosis, however, puts things in perspective, and White ends up down a rabbit hole of the criminal underworld. He wants to make money to ensure his family is supported when he’s gone, so he uses his knowledge of science to create the purest meth any drug dealer (or user) has ever seen. But when White feels appreciated and powerful in a way he never has, he becomes the worst possible version of himself.
The male protagonist, the journey that involves the criminal underworld and unsuspecting friends and family, and everything finally coming to a head is a storyline fans of Barry will be all too familiar with, and love.
Stream Breaking Bad on Netflix.
The prequel series to Breaking Bad, it’s no surprise that Better Call Saul fits the bill as well. The protagonist is Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), who goes by the alias of Saul Goodman, a smarmy lawyer who tries to change but keeps getting pulled back into his old conman ways. Despite passing the bar and doing whatever he can to shed his tarnished reputation, no one takes Saul seriously. So, he goes with the flow and becomes a lawyer, defending the lowest echelon of society. Prostitution, drug charges, even murder, are no match: he promises to get you out of just about any jam, often using underhanded, sometimes even illegal, tactics. At one point, Saul really wanted to be a better person, just like Barry did.
While Saul wasn’t an aspiring actor, he did a lot of acting to achieve what he needed to for his clients, and even himself. Like Barry, he faced criminals chasing after him, getting fiercer by the minute. The tone of the show, with a dose of humor and darkness in every episode, makes this show similar as well.
Stream Better Call Saul on Netflix.
One of the best serial killer TV series of this generation, if not the best, Dexter focuses on yet another male protagonist battling with morality and the heinous things he does. Like Barry, Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) justifies his kills by telling himself the person deserved to die. They did horrible things. Dexter never really tries to go on the straight and narrow. He recognizes he has dark urges and has no choice but to fulfill them. But he does struggle with the morality of what he does on occasion, like when his wife Rita is killed and when faced with the potential death of his sister.
At their core, both shows are about troubled men who love what they do and can’t seem to shake their true selves. Dexter isn’t quite as humorous as Barry, but it’s the type of show that once you start watching, you won’t be able to stop. Already watched Dexter? Check out the continuation series Dexter: New Blood, which aired for a single season in 2021.
Stream Dexter on Paramount+.
Like Barry, the lead character in Mr Inbetween, an Australian black comedy-crime drama, is a hitman. Ray Shoesmith (Scott Ryan) does his dirty deeds at night, then lives a seemingly normal life by day. He doesn’t hang out with acting buddies, but he is a family man with a girlfriend, kids, a close friend, and a terminally ill brother, all of whom lean on him for support.
Ray balances two lives in much the same way Barry does, but they quickly begin to collide. The more violent and awful his criminal acts become, the more it spills over into Ray’s personal life and he finds it difficult to separate the two.
Fargo, inspired by the 1996 movie of the same name, is about an average Joe who devises a plan to have two thugs abduct his wife, call it a kidnapping, and force his wealthy father-in-law to pay the ransom so he can pocket the money. But the plan doesn’t exactly go off without a hitch, leading to plenty of dark comedy moments that are reminiscent of ones you’ve seen on Barry.
There are bloody, gruesome murders, yet the series manages to maintain its darkly humorous, albeit unsettling, tone. Fargo will appeal to viewers with differing tastes because it has a bit of everything, and its tone and pacing are much like Barry.
Stream Fargo on Hulu .
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