The Rundown: Hey, Is ‘Barry’ The Best Show On TV Right Now?

The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items could vary, as could the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest, or from this week. The important thing is that it’s Friday, and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE – It’s not the point but it’s still worth noting that “Barry Timejump” would be a good fake name

Sometimes I like to think about the path Barry has taken so far. It started out as a fun little premise: Bill Hader plays a hitman who catches the acting bug and decides to go straight with the help of his classmates and teacher. “How silly!” I thought. “How goofy!” I continued thinking. “The SNL guy is making a goofy comedy for HBO! Even the mobsters are adorable! Hey, Stephen Root and Henry Winkler are in there! Cool!”

And it was that, mostly, for a while. But then, maybe sometime in the middle of last season but definitely here in the final season, things started taking a turn. There were still jokes, to be sure, and please stop here to remember Henry Winkler giving an interview about murders to a journalist via a one-man show in an empty theater. But everything also got… kind of bleak. Sad. Really just very heavy for a show that — while it had serious moments in the past — had leaned more toward comedy than, say, Breaking Bad-style personal destruction. I don’t wanna go too deep into the specifics on the off-chance some of you haven’t watched the show yet and are teetering with diving into it. (DO THAT.) But there have been multiple deaths in this final season that gutted me more than a little in the moment, and some that continue to gut me right now, as I type this paragraph.

And guess what: it’s kind of incredible! I’m a little in shock that a show can do all of this as successfully as Barry has, this change of tone and style as the series progresses, with the comedy-drama ratio almost flipping on itself. The only other show I remember doing it this well is Better Call Saul, which is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and not entirely a surprise given the thing where Hader shadowed Vince Gilligan and the writers of that show for a while. Turns out he’s a good student, in addition to being a good actor, writer, and director. Settle down, Bill Hader. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

The most recent episode cranked the stakes up even higher, too, rocketing the series eight years into the future out of nowhere. Again, tricky to pull off. Lots of loose threads out there. Lots of things to explain away. Or, you know, uh, not, based on this answer Bill Hader gave to a question about it all in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

The show didn’t address how Barry and Sally got past Jim Moss (Robert Wisdom). There also wasn’t a Robert Forster-type character to set them up with new identities and a new place to live. Did you still come up with those explanations for yourselves at least?

No, I didn’t care. (Laughs.) For me, once I get into that, it turns into this kind of a genre thing, and as the show progressed, I became more, like, “Well, where are they at?” So, I’m just not interested in that, and maybe that’s not good. With the Moss thing, I remember [the writers] went, “Well, how’d they get past Moss?” And I was like, “They waited a couple of days before they left.” (Laughs.)

God, I love this answer. Television shows and the people who watch them can get a little too wrapped up in the details sometimes. There are tons of shows that lose the plot trying to connect dots that don’t need connecting and lots of viewers who tie themselves into pretzels trying to theorize what every little thing means or could mean. This can be fine and fun and I would never take it away from you if you enjoy doing it, but it can also veer you into dicey territory. Sometimes you just need to sit back and enjoy and accept the simplest explanation for things. Sometimes that’s the best way to enjoy a very good show.

Which brings me to the question I posed in the headline up there: Do we think Barry is the best show on television right now? Some of this is subjective, I know. Maybe you don’t like the dark turn the show has taken this season. That’s fine. But also… god, it’s so good. I did not ever expect to be sitting here during the final season of Succession and wondering if it’s not even the best show that runs on HBO on Sunday night. Here we are, though. And it’s not an unreasonable question to ask. I really do like that Stephen Root is on both of these shows. Good for him.

There’s a lot that can and needs to happen before this all gets wrapped up in a few weeks. I have no idea how any of it is going to play out. Again, we just zipped into the future last week. Almost anything and everything is on the table right now. It’s thrilling, actually, in a way. I get legitimately excited whenever I get ready to smash the play button on each new episode. And sad, because I know I only have a few left. That’s a pretty good sign that you’re doing something good from a show-making standpoint. I’m still a little bit in awe of the journey this sucker has gone on. I’m kind of expecting/dreading the worst before it all wraps up. But, like, in a good way.

Is Barry the best show on television right now? I don’t know. Maybe. It’s definitely on the shortlist. I know I’m spending a lot of time thinking about it. And I can’t wait to see what happens next. All I ask is that, when this whole endeavor comes to a close, Bill Hader takes a break from being this good at so many things. I’m starting to get a complex about it.

ITEM NUMBER TWO – Meanwhile, on 9-1-1


A weird thing happened online this week. The internet — Twitter, mostly, but elsewhere, too — kind of “discovered” The Good Doctor, a network drama that gets like double or triple the viewers that a show like Succession gets. And people went nuts. Turns out a lot of wild stuff happens on that show, not all of it great, some of it kind of unintentionally hilarious. Which is fine. There’s a roundup of it all over at Vulture if you want more information, which you will not get here, because I — a connoisseur of bonkers-ass television — would like to talk about what happened in the first 10 minutes of this week’s episode of 9-1-1 instead.

I’ve talked about the 9-1-1 shows before. Kind of a lot, actually. Too much, maybe. But, I’m sorry, if you do an episode where a portable toilet flies away with a person inside it during a storm at a town fair, I am going to need to discuss it. This week didn’t reach those heights, but it was still… something.

Here’s the background:

  • A man — the guy up there in the screencap — is parachuting off the roof of a building
  • To deliver a surprise marriage proposal to his girlfriend

Already a perfect premise. He lands, safely, against staggering odds given what this show is and does, and drops to one knee, at which point…


Already a perfect scene. And it gets better.


The truck…

Is being driven by a bank robber…

Who is fleeing a crime scene.

Look at this.


It’s beautiful. I love the guy shouting “HEY” at the skydiver being dragged around the street by his parachute, as though it was a purposeful attempt to destroy his hot dog cart via shenanigans.

And it gets better. Again. Because the robber was captured by Angela Bassett. Who said… this… upon capturing him.


So, good news here, once again via bullet point:

  • The bad guy was captured
  • The parachute man survived, although he was mangled pretty good, with exposed bones and other gross stuff
  • He held onto the ring the whole time and gave it to his girlfriend, who said yes

And that is lovely.


The first responders asked her about it all after the boyfriend was hauled away in the ambulance, and…


To recap:

  • A man tried to skydive from a tall building to propose
  • He ended up getting dragged around Los Angeles by a bank robber when his parachute got tangled in the speeding getaway truck
  • His girlfriend only said yes out of guilt and plans to break it off once he heals up in a few months

My point here is twofold: One, network television is wild; two, The Good Doctor could never pull off something this incredible. Please have some respect for the greats.

ITEM NUMBER THREE – I am very happy that Edi Patterson gets to drive a monster truck

Here’s the trailer for the upcoming third season of The Righteous Gemstones, which premieres in June, right after Succession and Barry end. HBO is really just very good at this. And the trailer looks great. It’s wild that HBO has two shows about a powerful aging patriarch and his three dipshit children getting into little messes and Succession, which I enjoy very much, might be my second favorite.

I mean…


Succession is great but it has never — unless I’m blanking on it, which is possible – featured Edi Patterson in character as the spoiled daughter of a televangelist who has, for some reason, commandeered a monster truck and started laying waste to personal property that gets in her way. It’s a complaint I’ve had about television in general for a while now. Any show could have asked Edi Patterson to show up and drive a monster truck. I think it could really add a neat touch to, like, season two of The Bear. It’s nice that Danny McBride and company addressed this issue.

It’s also nice that they’re bringing back Walton Goggins and having him do… whatever exactly he’s doing here.


It’s a good show. It looks like it’s going to continue being a good show. I haven’t even mentioned the thing where Steve Zahn and Stephen Dorff are in this trailer, too. I’m really very excited. About all of that.

But mostly about the monster trucks.

ITEM NUMBER FOUR – I would pay $1000 for an unedited audio file of this conversation

Welllllll here’s a picture of Tom Cruise standing with Vin Diesel and Ludacris at an F1 race last weekend. It’s… it’s kind of wondrous. I need to know everything about it. I need to know every word they said to each other. What I’m picturing right now is Vin going on a long soliloquy about how the Fast & Furious movies are a story about family on par with the greatest films ever made and Tom listening very intensely — like, powerfully, aggressively listening — and then breaking into a huge smile and clapping his hands and saying “That’s fantastic!” without a single drop of sarcasm in his voice. I bet I’m pretty close.

Vin and Ludacris weren’t the only celebrities Tom hung out with this weekend. He also spent time with Shakira. And it looks like they — or at least their PR people — might have hit it off. From a New York Post article titled “Tom Cruise Is ‘Extremely’ Interested In Pursuing Shakira”:

“Shakira needs a soft pillow to fall on, and that could be Tom,” says our source — adding that Cruise has the benefit of being, “a nice-looking guy, and he is talented.”

A couple of things worth noting here…

ONE: lol

TWO: Shakira, if you are reading this (hello, Shakira, by the way), please consider setting the bar higher than “a nice-looking guy who is talented.” You are Shakira! There are lots of nice-looking guys who are talented! I know a few and I do not ever sit around thinking, like, “Dang, I bet my buddy Roger would be a great match for Shakira.” (Sorry, Roger.) (But you get it, right?) Go talk to one of those F1 drivers over there. They seem fun.

In conclusion:

  • I am now thinking about Tom Cruise asking Vin Diesel for advice about hitting on Shakira
  • Good for Ludacris, man

Great chat here.

ITEM NUMBER FIVE – Actually, ignore everything I said in the first section

I know I just wrote about how good Inside the NBA is last week and I know I burned off a lot of my favorite clips (Shaq discussing the moon remains undefeated) but, in my defense, it still is so good and I want to write about it some more. And I did not know my coworker Robby Kalland was going to publish this killer look at the inner workings of the show this week. This second thing is on me. I should have asked. Or maybe Robby should have told me. Or maybe I should have just, like, sensed it. But mostly I’m just happy it exists at all. Look at this quote from host Ernie Johnson — seen above pranking Charles Barkley with a pocket square, which is adorable — about his role in the show.

“I’m the rogue traffic cop, the guy who does want some collisions at his intersection,” Johnson says with a laugh. “I think after working with these guys for so long, I know that in my prep if I bring up this point, Charles is going to jump on it. And I also know that Shaq is probably going to broadside Charles when he says something. It’s that familiarity with each other and knowing how we all think, that’s what makes it work. And that’s what makes it possible to do that show without rehearsing at all. We never do that. We never sit down and run through a segment. It’s just whatever you see right there is genuine gut level reaction. And I think that’s been the key to the show for years.”

“A traffic cop who likes to see car crashes” is both a tremendous description of what Ernie does — don’t let the bow tie fool you, the man is a rascal — and a good idea for an opening segment on 9-1-1. I swear to God I am going to put this show on my Top 10 Shows of 2023 list. And not as a bit, either. This show and Barry might be my two favorite things on television right now. I feel fine about it.


If you have questions about television, movies, food, local news, weather, or whatever you want, shoot them to me on Twitter or at (put “RUNDOWN” in the subject line). I am the first writer to ever answer reader mail in a column. Do not look up this last part.

From Andrew:

Do you ever sit around and think about how lucky we are to be living in a time where Hollywood lets Jason Statham have a whole movie franchise about a really big shark? That was my main thought after seeing the trailer for the new Meg movie. There’s a part in there where the shark starts tearing up an entire pier and Jason Statham stops it by putting his foot out and on its nose. There’s another part where a lady gets eaten in the middle of a speech when a shark busts through the glass in her underwater laboratory. These are real movies, in the theater and everything! I was thinking about that a lot this week and figured you were the right person to email about it.

Andrew, I am honored. And I agree. It is a little incredible that we will now have two Statham v. Dino Shark movies and both of them will receive wide theatrical releases. I mean, look at this trailer, which contains all of the things in this email but also a massive prehistoric shark busting out of the surf to chomp straight through a T-Rex.

I am very proud of and happy for everyone involved here, starting with the people who somehow turned this into a multi-movie franchise and extending all the way to me, a person who had nothing to do with the making of either Meg movie but sure is happy they exist. I hope the third one features a time machine and Statham goes back to the age of the dinosaurs to learn important science things. I want to see him choke out a velociraptor. I consider this a reasonable request.

Thank you.


To North Carolina!

A group of cows helped Boone police officers find a suspect who fled a traffic stop.

Okay. Sure. I’ll bite.

“Due to the suspect’s fast and reckless driving our officers were not close enough to see exactly where the suspect ran,” police said.

That’s when cows joined the search.

Just a beautiful little one-two-sentence combo here. I’m not being sarcastic at all. It’s a really well-done piece of business. There should be awards for writing fun little articles about goofy stuff like this. Poo-litzers Prizes.


“Apparently cows do not want suspected criminals loitering in their pasture and quickly assisted our officers by leading them directly to where the suspect was hiding,” police wrote. “The cows communicated with the officers as best they could and finally just had the officers follow them to the suspect’s location.”

Please take a second today and think about the dude who got caught here, sitting in prison in a cell, attempting to explain “I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those damn chatty cows” to his cellmate. I hope they call one of the cows to testify.

Boone police said they will consider using cows in the future just as the department uses K9s.

I’m sure this is a joke but if you think I’m not going to spend a significant part of this weekend thinking about a loose-cannon cow cop named T-Bone who plays by his own rules but gets results… buddy, you do not know me at all.