It’s strange to call toxic relationships the main theme of “Barry” now that it’s become so clear, but looking back at the series as a whole, one can see what clever sleight of hand Berg and Hader have played on their characters. and the public. When “Barry” began, it seemed to be the story of a tiger looking to change his stripes.
After Berkman made the fateful decision to pursue the goal that landed him in Los Angeles for Gene Cousineau’s (Henry Winkler) acting class, he found himself not only bitten by the acting bug and falling in love with both Gene and his fellow student Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg), but decided right then and there to make a complete life change. After all, that initial target, Richard Krempf neé Ryan Madison (Tyler Jacob Moore), ended up being murdered by Chechen hitmen, a circumstance that allows Barry and “Barry” to establish a narrative that he’s using acting and his burgeoning relationships with Gene and Sally to get away from their dark and deadly past.
Although the first few seasons of “Barry” seem like a classic tragic tale about how one can never truly escape their past, Berg and Hader cleverly hide the show’s real and deeper themes beneath it. Even though Barry’s surrogate father, Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root), refuses to let him go, it is truly Barry’s twisted soul that will never allow him to escape an idealized happiness, domestic or otherwise. There is significant significance in the choice of Barry’s stage name, “Barry Block”, the name signifying the killer’s futile desire to block the true self from him.