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Every New Beginning
A closer look at the series finales of Barry, Succession, and Ted Lasso
Welcome to Deep Dives, a bi-monthly subsection of TMI! Here, I dive deeper into my thoughts about a topic that doesn’t fit in the weekly newsletter. Deep Dives will be more researched, informational, and opinionated. (And longer, of course!)
Please note: This post contains spoilers for all episodes of Barry, Succession, and Ted Lasso. If you do not want any of the content of these shows to be spoiled, this is not the post for you!
In the last seven days, three of my favorite TV shows have ended after 3 & 4 season runs. It’s kind of wild to consider that running for 3-4 seasons feels like quite a tenure these days, compared to the network TV golden days of 11 years for Cheers and Frasier, 10 for FRIENDS, and 9 for The Office. Alas; modern-day television has given us two things: the inability of a show to stay on for more than 1-2 seasons because they aren’t immediately bringing in tons of money for streamers, and more positively, control for creators to decide they want to go out still loved, at the height of their fans’ passion, rather than stringing them on for another 5 years on a journey nobody really wants.
These are three shows that managed to survive the pandemic, retain and even grow their viewer base. It’s nice to see artists end things on their own terms, and these are my thoughts on those endings.
When Barry first started in 2018, I was thrilled. I’ve been a huge fan of Bill Hader since his SNL days, and couldn’t wait to see his newest project. At the time, I was interested to see him in something other than a sketch imitating Al Pacino (which honestly, he’s really great at). But he is a much more talented actor and director than I’d ever imagined.
During the first season of Barry, I constantly recommended it to anyone I knew who had ever taken an acting class — mostly because it was able to pinpoint the overarching awkwardness of sitting in a room with people, trying to get in touch with emotions you really have no desire to experience in the hopes of corralling and controlling them for money. That’s art, baby!
So: a hitman falling in love with acting? An excellent fish out of water premise. We go in assuming the ex-military hitman will be serious, and he’ll be put in some silly situations. But it turns out he’s not just serious — he’s dangerous, he’s scary, and he is, without a doubt, an actual murderer. And where most sitcoms would generally brush away something like this in the guise of a joke, Bill Hader and Barry don’t shy away from the gravitas of what it might actually mean to take a human life, and how heavily that weighs on the soul. In an interview with Conan O’Brien for “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” Hader said:
“When you’re dealing with murder…it was very hard for me to be funny about it. …It could be strange, but you have the Janice Moss character get killed, and then kind of forget about it and I was like no no, when she dies that’s for the whole show. Like, you can never forget about her. Every episode she’s mentioned because I think that’s what happens when someone loses somebody.”
Over the final two seasons, Barry took a turn from what felt like a kind of sitcom to a dark, twisted, painful exploration of what it means to be a human — especially one with a past you want to erase. And yet, the shift felt natural. I remember looking over at my husband at one point during the final season, blanket pulled up to my nose on the couch, asking, “When did this show get so fucking scary?”
But the answer is — it always had been; we’d just been along for the ride on Barry’s full journey into darkness.
The final few episodes took a massive 8 year time jump into the future, where Barry now has a son with Sally and they’re trying to live a “normal” life (well, as normal as they possibly can). He’s tried to use religion to forgive himself of his past sins, and hopes that keeping his son away from anything dangerous or violent, he can spare him the life he had with Fuches.
I knew going in to the finale that there was no way Barry could survive. His chance for absolution was gone with his escape from prison (each and every time he’d had a chance to step back into the light, like the one on one scene with the prison guard in the bathroom, he’d chosen to damn himself further). There was nothing left for him.
Barry doesn’t just die; he’s killed by Gene Cousineau — arguably the biggest victim of the series (his only crime being his massive ego), who becomes the villain in the eyes of the public.
What a way to close. Burial with honors in Arlington Cemetery for the murderous Barry, and life in prison for Gene Cousineau. For Sally, loneliness and teaching at her son’s school. And the film about Barry — filled with half-truths; his son will never know the real story; only we do. Oh, and an honorable mention to NoHo Hank — his final resting place a Renaissance painting-style imagery with the man that he loves.
And even still — Barry managed to make social commentary throughout.
I have nothing but positive things to say about the end of this show — and oddly, I won’t miss it. It feels like it came to its natural conclusion; Barry couldn’t keep going this way, and neither could we.
Succession I found further in; something that filled the time during the pandemic. The first two seasons were already out and we flew through them just in time for season 3 to begin. I can’t believe I only got to watch two seasons live with everyone else!!
Going in, I was only familiar with Jesse Armstrong, the showrunner (of The Thick of It (the original, British version of Veep) and Peep Show). I expected Succession to be a comedy. And in a way, it is — but the humor is dark. Unbelievably, I did find myself laughing at some of the most tension-filled moments and at some of the characters’ choices. It felt like a dramedy with familiar family dynamics, just coming from a place of unimaginable wealth.
The final season wildly exceeded my expectations.
The “Connor’s Wedding” episode was particularly fantastic. Of course, I didn’t know going in to the season that we’d lose Logan, or when or how — and the way they filmed that episode, in one long take, just added to the intensity. As always, the siblings remained on their will they/won’t they track — friends one minute, enemies the next. Every step of the way this final season took turn after turn, deeper into the characters’ grief, confusion, and desire.
By the time we got to the finale, we hit the beautiful peak of the “meal fit for a king” only to come crashing down moments later, with the Roy siblings fully shattered. The vote goes forward, the company is sold to GoJo, Tom is the CEO and Shiv is uncomfortably left in the place her mother always was; the wife of a powerful man. (Likely the most she’d ever be able to amount to in the eyes of Logan anyway.)
Roman is free; Kendall was right that he didn’t want it. He’s so relieved at the end he’s sipping Gerri’s classic order, a martini, at the bar.
And Kendall — broken, alone; the way he always has been. He’s given up everything — Rava, his relationship with his children, his siblings, his friends, even his self-respect — to get to the one thing he thought he deserved. He’s a “cog built to fit only one machine.” He’s basically turned himself into Logan, with nowhere else to go.
And Connor will shove off for Slovenia, and Willa will write her plays on the cow-print couch.
One of my favorite bits of imagery throughout the show is Kendall and water — I think he’s left wishing he’d died the night of the crash during Shiv’s wedding (what is with this family and deaths during weddings!). The final shot of him staring over the river feels very apt.
“I tried to go into the water after we cut — I got up from that bench and went as fast as I could over the barrier and onto the pilings, and the actor playing Colin raced over.”
One of the really great things about this show was how fantastic all the actors are. They’re also so attuned to their characters that they often improvise scenes that make it in to the final cut.
Every moment of this season was perfectly placed, and well-fucking-earned. We’ve been on a road trip alongside the Roys for 4 seasons, and we finally reached the destination. I’m going to miss this show terribly, but — the characters have reached the end of this particular arc.
Succession has proven to be one of the most meme-able shows out there. I’m really going to miss seeing these every week after the show airs. I’m willing to bet they’ll still be around in 5 or 10 years, just with a lot less context.
At any rate, I’m looking forward to the eventual Christmas Special where no one is speaking to each other at their mother’s house after she’s served Peter’s “special cheese.”
And for some added fun: here’s some hilarious Kendall merch, a Tom and Greg fancam, a Tom Wambsgans CEO kawaii meme, a great Logan’s funeral meme, Jeremy Strong’s reaction to Kendall being called “babygirl”, and the “actual end credits.”
Such a pandemic sweetheart show, Ted Lasso was! This one I started when it began (Jason Sudeikis is another favorite performer of mine from SNL!) and have stuck with all the way through. That first season was truly a joy. This last season was…just…all over the place.
This final season felt like a wild ride on the Disney teacups. I wasn’t able to figure out where it was going, or why, and unfortunately the finale really didn’t answer any of those questions.
It felt, weirdly, like we were being taken on a tour by someone who was already lost. And also…kind of like Jason Sudeikis’s life fanfic??
Was this the way he wished things would have gone? That maybe he would have packed up his life in England and come home to his wife and children, and that Harry Styles — sorry, the therapist — would make a couple off-color remarks during a soccer game (his show) and be relegated to sitting at the bar in the back of the room, and later just…gone as Ted/Jason comes home with his suitcase and is welcomed home with open arms?
Also, are Ted and his wife back together?? I don’t know, I can’t tell, and I also don’t see it making any narrative sense at all. He’s learned about himself and changed…has she?
Which brings me to one of the oddest things about this finale — some of the characters’ massive growth over the seasons was suddenly stunted, particularly Nate, Jamie, Roy, and especially Ted.
Nate is clearly a talented and gifted coach — he’s the Wunderkid for Christ’s sake! And somehow he ends up willing to take on the role of Assistant Kitman just to get back in at Richmond. Why did he wait so long to apologize to Ted? And why wasn’t he brought back on to the coaching staff? Even in the final match when Ted encourages Jamie to run Nate’s decoy play — he’s just pulled off the bench to be used as a prop! And then Roy Kent becomes the coach. 🤷🏼♀️ Guess Nate can wash clothes and eat Greek food with Jade for eternity.
I’m still not fully clear on the reasoning behind Roy and Keeley’s breakup, other than to squeeze in her season arc with Jack and have an offscreen (SO many offscreen scenes this season) reunion with Roy. (Also, why does he ask his niece’s teacher if she was flirting with him for absolutely no reason?) And after all the growth Jamie has been through — suddenly the two of them are fighting over Keeley like a couple of schoolchildren. It just seemed like a massive setback.
And then Ted just felt so incredibly stoic throughout the episode. For a man whose character arc has been understanding himself and getting in touch with his feelings (even opening up with a “fuck you” to his mom in the penultimate episode), where is he now? Doc Sharon is just enjoying watching Richmond on TV — are they still talking? Is he just…cured now? And as the show began to wind down, every character and actor seems to be crying but him.
So many of their tears felt real — this show was truly coming to an end — but Ted just felt like he was happy he was leaving and going home to his son who was a bully for 5 minutes but got over it. Especially the scene where Rebecca approaches Ted in the stands. I couldn’t find any connection to that scene at all. There’s no weight for Ted. Of course he’s not staying. I knew he wouldn’t. And of course money isn’t going to change Ted Lasso’s mind about anything.
There was definitely some fan service, but it also felt to me like the show was working overtime to prove to the fans that they didn’t know what they wanted. Ted and Rebecca’s slight tension in season 1? Gone. Ted’s connection to Sassy? Gone. Sam and Rebecca, giving longing looks to each other all season long? Gone. All that time spent with basically no closure at all.
The season was the literal definition of this moment from Arrested Development:
Oh, you think you know what’s happening? Well guess what, you don’t!
Sure, we dropped that psychic’s predictions. Green matchbook next to army man? Means nothing! “Did we?”/“We did.” with the Dutch guy? “We did” just means, “we fell in love!” Gotcha again! And THIS?? The first time Ted refers to her as Rebecca? Cruelty. Rebecca at the airport WITH A TICKET TO KANSAS CITY? PSYCH! She’s only here for MISTER PILOT MAN whose name she didn’t know and who also somehow never saw her picture on all the newspapers that are INSIDE THE AIRPORT!
AFTER ALL THIS. Rebecca is the “mom” of all the team’s fans and this guy’s daughter. So glad that these people we only saw interact once get a happy ending. Is she happy? What is their relationship actually going to be like? Is she “settling for fine?”
WHO KNOWS because she’s barely talked about this at all onscreen! Are her and Keeley having secret chats? I hope so!!
And look — I can take it if things aren’t going to turn out the way I want them to. That’s fine. But make me believe it. Make me understand! So I can say, “of course, it was always meant to be that way.” (Did I think Tom was going to become CEO of Waystar Royco? No! But I believe it!)
This show left without any real closure, especially the confusing dream sequence. It just really didn’t hit for me.
One other odd thing — they have refrained from calling this the series finale, even though it really felt like the end. My guess is an upcoming spinoff, but what is Ted Lasso without Ted Lasso? (The Richmond Way?) 🤷🏼♀️
Y’know, as the wise sage Semisonic says — “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” Personally, I’m ready for some new beginnings and am excited to see what comes next from everyone involved with all of these projects.
So…Did you watch these finales? What did you think? And — are there other topics you’d like me to cover with Deep Dives in the future?
Until next time,
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