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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Who is Barry, really? A good yet weak-willed man who's the victim of manipulative stronger personalities? A sufferer of PTSD and depression who's barely in control of his own actions? Or is he a self-serving doormat who's perfectly willing to murder innocent people to secure the happy life he thinks he deserves and absolutely refuses to face any responsibility for his actions?
    • Complicated by the subtle dissonance of Barry's fantasies about a life with Sally. Barry comes across as sort of a nebbish dork dude who acts and dresses like his parents were an accountant and a school teacher and his fantasies seem to reflect a pretty ordinary upbringing. At first they seem innocuous and pretty funny, from shopping together, hosting Jon Hamm as a BBQ guest, raising their kids. But they're incredibly shallow, surface level ideas of a family, almost like something you'd see in a sitcom and assume is normal reality. Fuches mentions knowing Barry's parents and having known Barry since his early childhood (as young as four or five and adorably describing how sweet and cute Barry was) but little else is known about Barry's upbringing. Given his myriad of problems, which likely predate his stint as a marine and his PTSD and depression, and the fact FUCHES has been in his life that long, it slowly becomes clear that Barry probably did not have a good and supportive childhood, but exactly how bad it was is not yet clear.
    • Is Sally a good person struggling to make it in the world, who is teaching Barry to have humanity or does she have a deeply selfish abusive streak that Barry can't see because he has no model for good, healthy relationships? In season one, Sally is in her rights to react badly to Barry's over eager response to their fling, but her attempts to turn the rest of the group against him showcase a capacity and willingness to manipulate things to her advantage, including, lying about feeling 'scared' when Barry snapped at them over the Macbeth conversation. It's subtle foreshadowing of her season two reveal that she embellished her story of leaving Sam so much, even she began to believe her own lie. In season two we see a side of her we didn't expect. She pressures and guilt trips Barry into taking part in her domestic abuse scene despite his clear, expressed and visible discomfort with every second of it. When he can't even bring himself to call her a 'whore' and choke her for the scene, Sally berates him, then shoves him and grabs his face. She says some really nasty things about him, all of this happening in front of their friends. Barry literally begs her to stop and is confused by what she's doing, even knowing by now how drama class sometimes works. He's genuinely hurt and upset by her actions. Sally first claims it was okay because she was 'helping' him for the scene, then quickly admits she went too far. Since Sam returns they never really discuss it. By the time the showcase comes around, Barry is distracted before he and Sally go on and pretty much out of nowhere, Sally slaps Barry right in the face before going off script by screaming at him and shoving him in the actual scene. It's unacceptable behaviour on any level. On both occasions, Sally IS admittedly angry with Barry as he's not giving her what she needs 'for the scene', but that just means that part of her reason for twice physically abusing her boyfriend, was just anger at him.
  • Awesome Music: The shows theme: "Change For The World" by Charles Bradley.
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    • "Journal of Ardency" by Class Actress from the first episode of Season 1.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Sally is the biggest one in the series by far, as any post about the show on Reddit or Twitter will tell you, or even several of the posts on this page. Some think she's deserving of sympathy for her background as an abuse survivor and her inability to break through despite her clear talent as an actress. Others see her as being emotionally abusive to Barry and too selfish to really form a meaningful relationship with him. Comparisons to Skylar White from Breaking Bad are fairly common as well, as she's a flawed female lead character who seems to pick up an amount of vitriol hugely disproportionate to the male lead, despite him being a criminal who has killed innocent people.
  • Bizarro Episode: The entirety of "ronny/lily," the fifth episode of Season 2, qualifies as one long BLAM. In the span of the half-hour episode, Barry gets in multiple fights with a stoned taekwondo master and his feral, almost superhuman daughter. It's so bizarre that Fuches and Barry himself can't help but lampshade it.
  • Catharsis Factor:
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    • Seeing Barry beat Fuches bloody before abandoning him at the airport after years of being manipulated by him is nothing short of satisfying.
      • There's also him running for his life during Barry's rampage at the Burmese monastery knowing that Barry is there to kill him.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: NoHo Hank is beloved for being a mobster who's also genuinely friendly and very likable. He steals virtually every scene he's in.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • At the end of Season 1, Barry and Sally are starring in The Front Page, meaning Sally is again in a Crosscast Role as the play's two lead roles are both men. And it had already been subjected to this, as one of them was changed to a woman, and the other's ex-wife, in the film adaptation His Girl Friday.
    • One of the students comments on the fact that Sally is playing the role of Macbeth, then clumsily corrects himself to say "The Scottish king." It's an actors' tradition to refer to the play and the title character euphemistically when within a theater to avoid bad luck.
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  • Growing the Beard: The show was always well-received, but the penultimate episode of Season 1 in which Barry kills his innocent friend Chris marked a turning point in quality for critics and audiences.
  • Heartwarming Moments: Cousineau's speech to Barry after he confides in him in the fourth episode of season 2 is a shocking moment of genuine empathy and guidance from the normally inept and self-absorbed character. Them hugging afterward seals the deal. Doubles as a Tear Jerker due to the Dramatic Irony at play during it (Cousineau is unknowingly excusing Barry for killing his girlfriend by telling him it).
    Barry: Do you think I'm a bad person, Mr. Cousineau?
    Cousineau: I think you're deeply human. You did a terrible thing. But do I think that defines you? No.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Bill Hader does an incredible job throughout the show (with him managing to convincingly play an efficient and sometimes scary hitman) but in Season 1 Episode 7 he's downright phenomenal, showcasing Barry's emotional turmoil at being forced to kill his friend Chris. The episode won him an Emmy award. He further shows this at the end of Season 2 during his rampage at the temple where he's at his most terrifying.
      • Also from Season 1 Episode 7 there's Chris Marquette as Chris who is able to convincingly portray someone slowly freaking out and losing it completely.
    • In the Season 2 premiere, Anthony Carrigan gets to show what he's really made of as NoHo completely drops his usual Affably Evil demeanor and tells Barry in a dead serious tone that he'll give him up to Goran's family as the real killer if Barry doesn't kill his new rival.
    • Henry Winkler really shines in episode 4 of season 2 by surprisingly showing genuine empathy and guidance when Barry talks to him about his incident in Korengal (see Heartwarming Moments above)
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Cousineau is a pathetic has-been whose only chances at true success are long gone, while the role got Henry Winkler the first Primetime Emmy of his legendary TV career.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Barry. A deadly and efficient hitman and former marine suffering from depression and PTSD who truly doesn't like or want to kill people. He desperately wants to leave the business to live a normal life only to fall deeper due to having people like Fuches. Episode 7 and onward has him in a downward mental spiral from killing Chris and Moss, encountering Sally's abusive ex Sam, being abused by Sally herself, discussing his guilt of the Korengal incident to Gene, Fuches' continued manipulation, etc.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Some people believed Barry had already crossed this before the first episode (what with him being a hitman and all), but the one event people can unanimously agree on is when Barry murdered his innocent friend Chris in episode 7 to prevent him from going to the police. It gets worse from there.
  • Signature Scene: In the penultimate episode of Season 1, Barry reluctantly kills Chris after a solid couple minutes of begging, and trying to give him every chance to get out of it. It's a major He Really Can Act moment for Hader and a chilling statement on how far the show is willing to go in depicting its darker side. Made even moreso is his emotional breakdown afterwards, which is what really cements that moment.
    • From Season 2, the rampage at the Burmese monastery is a good candidate.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Sally due to her abusive behaviour towards Barry that makes her just like her abusive ex Sam. She's incredibly aggressive to Barry while they're acting out a domestic abuse scene. She does things like harshly berating him because he didn't call her a "whore" and choke her, grabbing his face and shoving him repeatedly, saying some truly nasty things about him, and even cruelly flings a deep insecurity Barry has in his face. And she does all of that in front of their friends and repeatedly ignores Barry's visible pleas of discomfort. Barry understandably had every right to angrily storm off afterward. Come the night of the showcase, she up and slaps him out of nowhere before screaming at him and shoving him again in the actual performance (all in front of their friends and an actual audience) while once again ignoring his visibly hurt feelings. Keep in mind that while Sally may not know that Barry is a hitman, she does know that he was an army veteran who is now struggling with PTSD and depression and that at this point they're in a romantic relationship. Sally is a deeply damaged person with serious trauma but she's also shown herself to be both manipulative (her S1 attempts to turn the group against Barry, the S2 reveal she embellished her story of how she came to leave the abusive Sam) and now, pretty hostile when she's frustrated. And Barry is, by definition, incapable of recognizing her behaviour as at the least, deeply problematic. An argument could be made that while Sally isn't a bad person by any stretch, in the long run, she's bad for Barry.
  • What an Idiot!: Fuches smugly tells the cops he doesn’t have to give them his DNA and walks out...leaving behind a soda can with his saliva.
  • The Woobie:
    • Chris. Poor, poor Chris. A former marine who was able to adjust to a normal life and have a family after his service in the war, he had never killed anyone (and freaks out completely when he's eventually forced to do so) and in short order finds himself in a deadly situation that's hardly of his own choosing that ends up killing two of his (admittedly unhinged) fellow marines and is subsequently murdered in cold blood by another man he counted as a friend sometime after he forcefully saved said friend from getting killed.
    • Gene Cousineau in Season 2, who's struggling with denial and grief in the wake of Janice's disappearance, clinging desperately to little shreds of hope while he tries to reconnect with the son he abandoned and is actively deceived by his surrogate son (Barry). Also, he finds Janice's body thanks to Fuches (and Gene can only watch in shock before sobbing profusely a few moments later) who then falsely reports to the police that Gene murdered her leading him to be briefly arrested before his son bails him out and is notified by Fuches that it was Barry who actually killed her.
    • That poor man who was killed in Korengal after Barry mistook him for an attacker. Same for his wife who watched and screamed in horror as his husband was shot to death for no reason.
    • It's kinda hard not to feel bad for Mayrbek. He becomes Barry's protege only to be scared shitless when Barry shoots him near his ear and yells at him out of anger for losing focus during target practice. He eventually toughens up, thanks Barry for his help and even becomes the leader of the Chechan/Burmese gang only for it to be utterly destroyed when Barry goes on his rampage at the Burmese monastery to kill Fuches. And then he's shot dead by his own mentor in the process.
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