8 TV Shows to watch if you like HBO’s Barry: ‘Barry’, created by Bill Hader and Alec Berg, is undoubtedly one of the finest series. Not only is it a brilliant black comedy, but it is also a great character study of Barry Berkman. Through Barry, we meet a marine-turned-hitman trying to lead a life on a righteous path. By coincidence, he gets up on the stage of an acting class and finds an outlet for his traumas. It gives him a purpose for his life beyond ruthlessly killing people. It offers him a chance to find his humane side that was butchered by the inhumane acts he committed in the past.




However, getting rid of one’s core identity isn’t an easy process. He kept getting pulled back toward the world of crime by both internal and external factors. Unlike Fuches, Gene Cousineau and Sally made him see the possibility of a life without violence. Between the battle of his past and present, he sought both dignity and sanity. With a phenomenal cast with Bill Hader, Stephen Root, Anthony Carrigan, Sarah Goldberg, and Henry Winkler, it excels in almost every department.

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However, the HBO series has now reportedly reached its final season. And no matter how much it hurts to say goodbye, one must respect the decision of its creators to end it without stretching the storyline to needless tangents. Alas, here are a few TV shows that you can watch to fill the Barry-sized hole in your heart.

1) Better Call Saul (2015-2022)

TV Shows Like Barry

Peter Gould and Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad spin-off is an absolute masterclass. What Breaking Bad started, Better Call Saul took it further to reach almost a level of perfection with its impeccable visual storytelling. But for those who are not familiar with this series, let me share why it is a great choice if you liked Barry. It is yet another exceptional black comedy of a fallible man finding a balance between his professional and personal life. With Barry Berkman, we find a skilled hitman who hopes to lead a life on a righteous path. With Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill, we find an unethical but incredibly skilled lawyer constantly conflicted with the aspects of morality.




While Saul starts out as merely an attention-seeking showman, he becomes known as a figure with a much darker past. Like Barry, Saul’s psychological state in relation to his battles with his conscience is extensively explored in Better Call Saul. His older, reputable brother and his devoted girlfriend become the reason why he keeps fighting with himself, wanting to do better and be better. So, like Barry, you will find an intricate character study with just the right mix of subtlety and panache.

2) Atlanta (2016-2022)

Atlanta

Bill Hader and Donald Glover belong to the same generation of comedic talents. And although their subjects of expertise differ, their comedic styles and sensibilities have so much in common. As a result, there are some distinct similarities between Atlanta and Barry that bring absurdist humor to the forefront and enrich its dark comedy narratives.




As an example, take a moment from Barry’s new season premiere, where Sally returns to her hometown to learn that her boyfriend has been charged with murder. She starts screaming out of nowhere, expressing her immense pain over the betrayal and distrust this man brought to her life. Meanwhile, her mother, sitting in the driver’s seat, nonchalantly continues an interaction with another person. Despite sitting next to each other, their emotional distance becomes evident. Gosh! Saying that does not do justice to the impact of this wickedly hilarious moment.




Donald Glover’s Atlanta is filled with such moments backed by Brian Tyree Henry’s amazing deadpans and LaKeith Stanfield’s trippy ruminations. There are also nuanced performances by Zazie Beetz and Donald himself, and it includes several side characters that are just as amusing and fitting in the narrative. Besides, it is a brilliant character study that understands the seriousness of its subject matters while packaging them in a fine blend of tragedy and comedy.

3) Beef (2023-)

Beed

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The recent Netflix breakthrough project is also one of the finest works to have come out from the A24 studio. Lee Sung Jin’s ‘Beef’ is a phenomenal dark comedy led by an irresistible acting duo of Steven Yeun and Ali Wong at the center. While Ali is a renowned stand-up comedian, Steven also started out with comedy before his breakout role in The Walking Dead. As a result, both bring their deeper understanding of comedic timing to the project much like Bill Hader does for Barry.

Filled with complex characters with distinct personalities, Beef is a truly cathartic experience. Like Barry, it is also an exploration of people channeling their rage due to years of repressed emotions. In case you loved the second season finale of Barry, where this ex-hitman goes on a rampage, Beef channels the same tone throughout its first season. Besides, it resonates due to its vivid psychological study of almost every single character. It is right up your alley if you love Barry for how the show keeps reinventing its narrative structure to invent new possibilities of what this episodic format of audio-visual art can yield.




4) Get Shorty (2017-2019)

Get Shorty

Created by Davey Holmes, ‘Get Shorty’ is a fine dark comedy backed by the comedic talents of Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano. There is also a dramatic side to this crime thriller that is inspired by Elmore Leonard’s 1990 New York bestselling Novel of the same name. It follows a mobster Miles Daly (played by Chris), who adores movies and dreams of making them of his own. He keeps talking passionately about it, even in his bleak job.




One day, during one of his hits on a screenwriter, he stumbles upon an opportunity. He decides to use that person’s script to fulfill his dream of becoming a Hollywood movie producer. Meanwhile, he also wants to clean up his act and have a respectable profession so that his wife would let him be a part of her and their daughter’s lives. So, through Miles’ journey, Get Shorty follows a similar narrative as Barry’s, where a man wants to let go of a criminal background to enter a profession where he can fulfill his creative abilities and find a purpose for his life that does not require him engaging in violent acts.

5) Mr Inbetween (2018-2021)

Mr Inbetween

The Australian dark comedy series – ‘Mr. Inbetween’ has many things in common with Barry. Written by Scott Ryan and directed by Nash Edgerton, this FX series follows a professional assassin – Ray Shoesmith (played by Scott Ryan), who needs to juggle his professional and personal relationships to find a balance between rage and kindness. Apart from the brilliantly comedic dialogue writing, the show is not scared to explore gritty and bleak aspects of Ray’s life.




On one side, you see Ray’s tender relationship with his young daughter, Brittany (played by Chika Yasumura), and his older brother, Bruce (played by Nicholas Cassim), who has a motor neuron disease. The show effortlessly swings back and forth between mundane conversations to unapologetically darker ones without letting any tonal shift seem the least bit jarring. Besides, Scott Ryan’s performance is a chef’s kiss to this wickedly hilarious show, who finds humor through the cracks of his personal tragedies. As a result, it is a fitting black comedy suggestion if you liked Barry.

6) The Sopranos (1999-2007)

TV Shows like Barry

Created by David Chase, ‘The Sopranos’ will always be a benchmark for a richly layered character study on television. It paved the way for many shows like Mad Men to Breaking Bad that explore the psyche of its morally corrupt characters without letting it veer into a pattern of generic TV writing. This classic crime drama series revolves around Tony Soprano (played by brilliant James Gandolfini), a New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster.

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Like Barry, it also shows Tony trying to balance his family life with his criminal one – where he serves as the leader of a criminal organization. The writing explores the issues of toxic masculinity while showing a gangster going for therapy sessions due to his mental health issues, such as panic attacks. It handles several heavy themes without a heavy-handed approach. Besides, despite all its seriousness, the show also offers several wild moments of absurd comedy (and black comedy) that reveal the character’s emotional state and convey subtext with finesse.




7) Breaking Bad (2008-2013)

TV Shows like Barry

I don’t think Vince Gilligan’s ‘Breaking Bad’ warrants any introduction. I would also assume that if you watched Barry, you might have already seen the Bryan Cranston starrer series. However, in case you haven’t, it should be an obvious pick for you. Barry explores Barry Berkman’s character trying to control his issues of rage while gradually becoming increasingly insane and deranged due to his criminal life. No matter how many efforts he makes to enter a ‘normal’ life, something keeps pulling him back to the dark side.




With BB’s Walter White, you will find a man in a similar crisis. A chemistry teacher by profession, he learns about his diagnosis of cancer despite having never smoked even a cigarette till his middle age. He feels like a failure and breaks bad after finding meth-making as a viable option to build an empire of wealth to leave behind for his family after his death. Walter’s narrative explores his conflict with morality and where he keeps justifying his bad behavior on account of doing something good. Even when Breaking Bad takes a different route than Barry’s character arc, it is a thoroughly entertaining investigation of its deeply troubled central character.

8) Bojack Horseman (2014-2020)

Bojack Horseman

Until its second season, Barry showed its hitman character getting away with all the crimes while never processing the problematic issues with his personality. The third season started exploring that while talking about his mental health issues due to his unprocessed traumas that result in his toxic masculinity and sudden explosions of rage. It’s a classic example of a man getting away with his toxic behavior on the account of never being burdened by consequences.




Bojack Horseman also explores a deeply flawed male character and explores his psychological journey in depth. It shows Bojack trying to do right by those around him while following back into the pattern of hurting others on account of not knowing how to deal with his issues with emotional maturity. Besides, it presents a biting satire on Hollywood and the American TV industry, which Barry also explores through its sharp critique.

Also, Read 10 TV Shows to Watch if you Like ‘Succession’

Barry (2018-2023) Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes

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