Friday, December 8, 2023

Will “Barry’s” Final Season Be Too Dark For Emmy Voters?

For the past five years, the HBO comedy series “Barry” hasn’t just been one of the best comedies on television but probably one of the best shows of the past few decades. Bill Hader and company have created one of the most entertaining dramedies that have engrossed audiences and critics alike. As we approach the final stretch of episodes in the series (the first two episodes aired last night), critics are pouring in their adoration for what is supposed to be a worthy departure for one of television’s prestige series. Is the praise from the critics enough to carry “Barry” to Emmy glory this fall? Or will it end up coming up short as the previous season did?

Season three of “Barry” was a massive success, taking the series to new and unexpected heights. It also might have been one of the biggest tonal departures ever for a series. “Barry” has always balanced its dramatic efforts with seamless comedic situations. Still, last season steered way more toward our titular character’s dark and tortured nature than ever before. The hit HBO show has slowly morphed into a quasi-surrealist nightmare, mainly focusing on the melancholic spiral of our favorite hitman’s personal and professional life. Season three went on to earn fourteen Emmy nominations last season (only winning two below-the-line awards). Objectively speaking, Hader’s work in front, especially behind the camera, was some of television’s highest moments of 2022. Hader delivered some of his most personal work of the series, but that profound darkness might have alienated Emmy voters. Remember when everyone thought Hader would win Outstanding Director for a Comedy Series for the episode “710N?” The infamous motorcycle chase scene alone should have sealed the deal. Instead, “Ted Lasso” won for a far less technically directed episode of television. It’s possible we could approach another year where “Ted Lasso” just easily checks the boxes all the way to the finish line and wins Outstanding Comedy Series for a third time.

As of now, you can probably expect the usual suspects from “Barry” to return to the Emmys. Hader, Henry Winkler, and Anthony Carrigan are looking good to repeat their nominations in the acting categories. It all depends on how well the Television Academy enjoys the final season for Sara Goldberg. She may have given career-best work last season, but she still ended up missing out on an Outstanding Supporting Actress nomination while receiving a nomination in the past. Hader also directed every episode for the final season, so expect the possibility of multiple directing nominations for a comedy series. Outstanding Comedy Series is another expected nomination, as it will most likely end up as one of the best-reviewed series of the year. Time will be the most significant factor in seeing if the show can rally enough supporters to get behind it for final voting to win Outstanding Comedy Series for the first time. “Barry” airing its final season at the same time as “Ted Lasso’s” final season is not ideal, as both will compete for the attention of audiences and Television Academy voters everywhere. It’s hard to use the final season narrative when there are about four series contending for Outstanding Comedy Series that end during this year’s Emmys award season (“Atlanta,” “Barry,” “Ted Lasso,” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel“).

Most likely, what hurt “Barry” last year and will probably hurt the series again this year (based on those two first episodes) is how incredibly dark it is. Voters in the Television Academy were either turned off by it or didn’t think the series qualified as a comedy anymore due to its drastic tonal shift. Now, most of us understand that comedy is subjective (and many thought last season was still hysterical), but it is hard to deny that opinion held by some. Compared to other comedy series in the running, the only show relatively close in tone would be FX’s new show, “The Bear.” Even that show’s freshman season had far more comedic levity than the last season of “Barry.” Overtly comedic series such as “Modern Family,” “Veep,” “Schitt’s Creek,” and yes, “Ted Lasso” are the ones that win Outstanding Comedy Series. There’s a reason why everyone’s favorite mustached soccer coach has been dominant the past two years and could possibly go for the three-peat.

Undoubtedly, this final season of “Barry” will be excellent. It sounds like everyone involved gave their absolute best to make sure one of television’s finest series ends on a high note. It might not be enough to get more Emmy hardware this September, but who knows? Crazier things have happened in Emmy history, and the quality is there to back it up. The only question is whether voters in the Television Academy will adapt to the series’ tonal change and go along for the ride. Or could voters just reciprocate last year’s love which led to no major above-the-line wins? Or will Hader at least be able to win Outstanding Actor in Comedy Series again, just as he did for the first two seasons before Jason Sudeikis came along with his quippy one-liners and smiling charm? Only time will tell if “Barry” can finally seal the deal and win a well-earned Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series.

Do you think this is the year that “Barry” will take home the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series? Will it overperform or underperform in nominations? Please let us know in the comments below or over on our Twitter account.

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Giovanni Lago
Giovanni Lago
Devoted believer in all things cinema and television. Awards Season obsessive and aspiring filmmaker.

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