Roush Review: ‘Barry’ Season 2 and ‘Veep’ Season 7
HBO’s Hour of Comedy Power
Barry, Season 2
Knock ’em dead? It’s Barry’s specialty, though he’d prefer to slay them onstage.
The moody reformed hitman with the acting bug — played with impressive intensity by Emmy winner Bill Hader — is mired in an existential crisis in the second season of this audaciously original dramedy. Things are so bleak, Barry almost forgets to be funny.
His self-infatuated acting coach, Gene Cousineau (the sublime Henry Winkler, who won his first Emmy for the role), keeps insisting on truth: “You have got to get in touch with your inherent darkness.”
If they only knew. “Am I evil?” Barry wonders aloud to his biggest fan, effervescent Chechen mobster Noho Hank (Anthony Carrigan), whose welcome comic relief is complicated by his need for Barry to rub out his rivals. When Barry’s worlds of artifice collide, with silent bullets whizzing through his bachelor pad while his girlfriend stays oblivious, the farce is harrowing yet galvanizing. As a character study of a sad yet dangerous man who should never be encouraged to “access some rage,” Barry is a triumph — as long as you’re not expecting a laugh riot.
Barry, Sundays, 10/9c, HBO
Veep, Season 7
All hail Selina Meyer (multiple Emmy winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus) in her crusade to make America laugh again — at itself and at the venal foibles of its most morally bankrupt and merrily profane public servants.
Veep hits the campaign trail in its rollicking final season, a road paved with vicious satire that’s only a shade more ridiculous than what passes for reality on cable news.
When fed the line “I want to be president for all Americans,” her response is, “Do I? All of them?” Whether visiting an Iowa town with a dog for its mayor or exploiting national tragedies for political gain with “thoughts and prayers,” Team Selena will stoop to any depth for a vote, or a dirty joke.
If possible, Meyer’s rivals for the White House are worse, especially former staffer and overgrown man-child Congressman Jonah Ryan (Timothy C. Simons), whose appalling behavior inspires a hilarious twist on the #MeToo movement.
In its last hurrah, Veep is an unimpeachable hoot.
Veep, Sundays, 10:30/9:30c, HBO