Bill Hader Had No Interest In Fan Service While Writing Barry

This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of "Barry."

As one of the greatest dark comedies of the decade barrels towards its very last episode, viewers have watched in equal parts horror and curiosity as "Barry" has killed off beloved characters, unexpectedly jumped forward in time, and kept making certain fans voice one consistent concern: where has all the comedy gone? For many productions, taking these many risks in so short a time would've felt like tempting fate. It's not every day, after all, that a series earns such a great amount of trust in its viewership that it can afford to defy expectations. For "Barry," this is simply par for the course.

So what's the secret sauce behind such bold and fearless writing? For star and co-creator Bill Hader, that boils down to one guiding light. Rather than trying to take all the opinions and wants of the audience into account (who, by the way, aren't exactly a monolith), it instead comes down to doing right by characters such as Barry, Sally (Sarah Goldberg), and even NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan) — despite being responsible for the ruthless killing of his beau Cristobal Sifuentes (Michael Irby).

It's that point-of-no-return moment for everybody's favorite Chechen gangster, however, that became the central talking point for both fans and the cast alike during this final season. But for Hader in particular and his writing process, that meant following Hank and Cristobal's trajectory down to its inevitable end ... regardless if that meant throwing fan service out the window.

'I've done fan service, and the show immediately spits it out'

In an extensive interview with the L.A. Times, Bill Hader, Sarah Goldberg, and Anthony Carrigan sat down to discuss the final season of "Barry," especially Hank and Cristobal's shocking scene from episode 4.

According to Carrigan, faced with Cristobal's unwillingness to go along with his plan, Hank's main priority came down to a need for "safety." As he puts it, "After almost being mauled in the previous season, almost having the love of his life taken away, safety becomes the No. 1 priority. But then getting what he really always wanted butts up against that and sets a course for disaster." Calling it "great f***ing writing," Goldberg echoes her co-star's thoughts and describes how, when it comes to Hank, "You think you know someone, but nobody really knows what they're capable of, depending on what the stakes are. You don't know how you're going to behave in certain situations."

The real money quote comes from Hader, detailing the tricky balance of writing for what audiences want versus what the characters actually need:

"You're always just trying to write what's honest for these characters, as opposed to fan service. I've done fan service, and the show immediately spits it out. We did something, I can't say what it is, in the finale; I wrote it and Sarah said, 'Why are we shooting this?' But that's good; hopefully you create an environment where people can come up to you and go, 'This stinks.'"

The "Inside the Episode" featurettes included at the end of several episodes reinforce Hader's thoughts here, where he frequently reveals insights into following his characters' journeys to the bitter end. In other words, expect the unexpected when "Barry" comes to a close May 28, 2023 on Max.