Like any hitman worth their chops, Neon's dark comedic-thriller Barry has kept something of a low profile.
It's a bit of a mystery why. The show has an intriguing premise - a traumatised hitman wants to become an actor, big-name stars like comic actor Bill Hader and Henry "the Fonz" Winkler, a cabinet full of major TV awards and a fanbase that won't stop telling you how good it is if you ever make the mistake of admitting you haven't watched it.
I know this because I am part of that fanbase and I feel like I am constantly rambling on about how great the show is to anyone who will listen and, if I'm honest, a lot of people who won't. Look, I'm doing it again right now. But Barry is brilliant and if you're not watching it, you should start.
Despite its extraordinarily dull name - apologies to all the Barrys out there - the show is one of the best on right now. It's full of pitch-black humour, plausibly oddball situations and a lead character that's dancing right on the edge of keeping it together or crumbling entirely.
Having spent some time musing on why it remains a cult favourite but not a mainstream, hit I've come up with a couple of theories. Firstly, the name does it no favours, even though its violent ordinariness is the point. And secondly, the screenshots used to illustrate the show in print and online tend to match the excitement of its title, showing Hader looking either a) sad, b) confused or c) sadly confused.
So I get why people would think they were in for a viewing experience as dull as dishwater, when in reality the show is as fun and entertaining as a private spa with your significant other and as shocking as a cold shower.
As mentioned, Barry is about a hitman looking for a career change. But that need for change stems from the untreated PTSD from his time in the army and his life before enlisting. He sort of just fell into assassinating after his tour of duty, the same way people drift into jobs or careers that may not have anything to do with their dreams, hopes or goals.
As such, he treats it very much like a job, dispatching lives with the same glazed-over look that you'd have processing a report or Excel spreadsheet. Seemingly immune to ending a life.
But, of course, he's not. Over the course of its previous two seasons and, especially now in episode one of its long-awaited third, Hader has painted a picture of a man slowly, steadily losing it as his desire to make big changes in his life keeps getting shot down by those around him.
As a character study, Barry does not back from diving into the morality of its characters and the self-questioning and dawning realisations that goes along with that.
It also has a lot of bullets going into a lot of heads. Although, only some of these bullets are real.
While the show's violence is not glamorised in any way, it still jolts, especially as the show often leaves you hanging for a moment or two to wonder if that shock kill actually happened or if it was just a figment of Barry's increasingly unstable state of mind.
At the end of its second season, the show left us on a major cliffhanger that involved betrayal, more betrayal, yet another betrayal, a brutal murder and a cathedral full of dead mobsters. It was a helluva way to go out. Little did anyone know that Covid would leave us hanging off that cliff for three long years.
Now, finally, Barry's back and it feels even more on top of its game than it did previously. Barry is even more disillusioned, his acting prospects have slumped and he's not much more than a prop to his girlfriend, an actress whose star is rising.
The ramifications of last season's events have forced him to slum it as a hitman for hire for amateurs, something that leads to all parties being left either unsatisfied or quite dead. And, worst of all, his acting coach/father figure has pieced a puzzle together and is now murderously unhappy with his former protege.
It's all setting up for many more unpredictable explosions and outbursts and I can only encourage you again to get onboard. Like its main character, Barry is a show that just doesn't miss.