All the TV Shows Similar to HBO’s Barry

Whether it’s an intelligence officer putting his complicated life on display in the form of various brutally honest folk songs or following a Nevada crime boss’ henchman as he tries his hand at producing films, the best shows like Barry have compelling stories at the heart of them.

The Righteous Gemstones (2019-)

Available On HBO Max

Created by and starring Danny McBride, The Righteous Gemstones first premiered on HBO in September 2019 and has now been picked up for a third season. The dark comedy centers on the dysfunctional televangelist family who run a megachurch. Thanks to the generous donations to the church Eli (John Goodman) and his three sons live a rich and lavish life that becomes under fire.

Like Barry, The Righteous Gemstones is a dark comedy that will have audiences laughing and then immediately feeling bad about said laughter.

Fleabag (2016-2019)

Available on Amazon Prime Video

It’s not often that British comedies translate to American audiences without adapting the content but Fleabag managed to be extremely successful “across the pond.” Described as a “tragicomedy” the series was created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge based on her one-woman comedy show. The series follows “Fleabag” as she struggles her way through life and love in London on the heels of tragedy.

Fans who love the writing of Barry and the quick wit of the show’s characters will love Fleabag for the same reasons. She might not be a hitman, but she is going through the same kind of identity struggle as Barry is.

Dexter (2006-2013)

Available On Hulu

When Dexter first began airing on Showtime in 2006, fans weren’t entirely sure what they were watching. Now the show has paved the wave for so many great mystery dramas. The series centers on a Miami-based blood splatter expert who is a serial killer in his spare time. However, unlike most serial killers Dexter operates on a moral code that makes him only kill people who are murderers themselves.

Both titular roles in Dexter and Barry have a lot in common because they’re not who they seem. They’re two sides of the same coin since Barry is a hitman who doesn’t want to kill people anymore and Dexter is a secret serial killer who kind of likes his job.

Fargo (2014-)

Available On Hulu

Fargo is arguably one of the best anthology series of recent years. The black comedy crime series was inspired by the 1996 movie of the same name ad follows a new cast of characters involved in different murder investigations every season. The series was recently picked up for a fifth season.

One of the biggest similarities between Fargo and Barry is that they both have found the perfect balance between drama and excessive violence and humor. It takes a lot of hard work to make a murder funny but both these shows have managed to do just that.

Mr. Inbetween (2018-2021)

Available On Hulu

Mr. Inbetween is a serialization of Scott Ryan’s 2005 movie The Magician. Ryan reprised his role as writer and lead actor for the FX series that airs both in Australia and in the United States. Set in Sydney, the series follows Ray Shoesmith as he tries to balance everyday life with his hitman for hire career.

The similarities between Barry and Mr. Inbetween are pretty easy to spot since both shows are about hitmen who have to juggle their personal and professional lives. Both main characters begin to question their choices as their personal lives begin to suffer due to their jobs.

South Park (1997-)

Available On HBO Max

While South Park may not have the most obvious link to Barry, upon closer inspection of the voice cast, fans will find that Bill Hader actually plays Ike Broflovski as well as some other minor characters.

So if for those looking for an excuse to go back over some of the great South Park episodes of the past, do so fully aware that Bill Hader is playing that foul-mouthed, intrepid, Canadian kindergartener.  It’s also a nice little factoid to drop on those less-than-in-the-know friends.

Saturday Night Live (Seasons 31-38)

Available On Peacock

If Bill Hader’s relatively small roles on South Park just aren’t cutting it, then boy, then there’s this great show that would be just perfect. It’s called Saturday Night Live. There are sketches, celebrities, and political satire. Maybe a bit less political satire than some of the more recent years, but it’s definitely still there.

SNL is where Bill really got the time to grow into a professional writer and performer. A great fast-paced, creative environment that practically forces the writers and performers there to sink or swim. It’s hard to imagine that Barry would even exist without Hader’s time spent at SNL.

Documentary Now! (2015-2019)

Available On Netflix

Another show that probably wouldn’t exist without Hader’s time spent at SNL, Documentary Now! sees Hader team up with fellow SNL alumni Seth Meyers and Fred Armisen. The trio takes their love of comedy and documentary films and combines them to create a series of brilliantly hilarious mockumentaries. Bill Hader is credited as a creator, writer, producer, and actor, so if SNL hasn’t satiated an appetite for Hader’s work, then this is likely the best bet.

Each episode pays homage to different styles of documentary films. Armisen, Hader, and Meyers infuse their signature humor while honoring classics in documentary film. While their work at places like SNL and Late Night With Seth Meyers is mostly meant to go week by week, their work on Documentary Now! is another series, like Barry, meant to last the test of time.

Wilfred (2011-2014)

Available On Hulu

Wilfred may not have anything to do with hitmen or the entertainment industry, but there’s certainly a shared (and dark) sense of humor that goes into making both of these shows. For those who haven’t seen Wilfred (the American version starring Elijah Wood), it follows Ryan, a depressed man who, after a suicide attempt, begins to hallucinate his neighbor’s dog as a man dressed in a dog suit.

It sounds ridiculous, but what follows is one of the weirdest, most hilarious, and outright odd series to ever be adapted for American television. So for those who haven’t given Wilfred a chance yet, there’s really no excuse at this point. It’s been off the air for a while. Time to get caught up.

Ozark (2017-2022)

Available On Netflix

When Ozark was first released it drew a lot of comparisons to AMC’s Breaking Bad. The similarities between Jason Bateman’s character (Marty Byrde) and Bryan Cranston’s iconic Walter White were too simply too hard to ignore. While Marty may have swiftly become the Walter White of money laundering there’s another key aspect of Ozark that the series happens to share with Barry. A protagonist that believes he can always fix the problem.

One of the key themes throughout the first season of Barry is his inability to handle situations as effectively as he believes he can. Despite his best intentions, the situation almost always ends up worse than it was before. But not to worry, things will get better “Starting now…”

Killing Eve (2018-2022)

Available On Hulu

While Barry spends most of his time throughout the course of season one trying to get out of the life, the protagonists of the BBC’s Killing Eve, Villanelle and Eve, seem to relish in the complicated life of a contract killer and the MI5 agent hunting her down.

As Villanelle seemingly kills without regard for human life all across the globe, Eve, the obsessive MI5 agent assigned to her case stops at nothing to get closer to the elusive killer. Barry follows a man very near the end of his career as a killer, and Killing Eve follows two women who are brought new life in their careers by the existence of the other.

Get Shorty (2017-2019)

Available On Amazon Prime Video

Apparently, there’s a pretty large overlap in the number of people who operate outside the law and those who aspire to make it big in Hollywood, who knew? Get Shorty follows Miles Daly (played by that amazing Chris O’Dowd) as he struggles to make the move from Nevada crime family muscle to big-shot Hollywood movie producer.

Much like Barry, Miles is a man simply trying to live a better life and escape the violence and criminality of his past. But it’s never easy trying to get out of the life.

Patriot (2015-2018)

Available On Amazon Prime Video

Patriot is an Amazon Prime Original and it’s absolutely amazing. While Barry is a hitman struggling to break free of his illegal life and find freedom in the art of acting, Patriot follows John Tavner, an intelligence officer struggling with deeply ingrained PTSD while trying to break free from his situation by creating all-too-real folk songs.

Whether he’s singing about the best way to fall from over forty feet or strumming along as he works through his guilt over pushing a prospective piping company employee in front of a truck for the “greater good”, the heartache and utter hopelessness that punctuates the dark humor of the series make it a truly magnificent series that might even have fans asking “Barry who?”


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Simon Costanza
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