Sarah Goldberg on the ‘Barry’ Finale and Bad Decisions

Was this really a comedy, especially in this final season?

It was definitely a comedy when we started. The tone became really expansive. This season, particularly in the latter half, we changed genre almost every episode: thriller, horror, drama. I was surprised that the show could hold that. I laugh out loud, still, watching the show, but “comedy” doesn’t sum it up.

How much say did you have in shaping Sally?

I had a lot to say, which I never took for granted, because it’s rare. I’ve always said that with Sally, you don’t have to like her. You just have to know her. Likable? Dislikable? That’s a barometer we really only use for women. I wanted her to be as morally bankrupt as the men on the show. I wanted her to remain complex. I asked for that from Season 1. I find it interesting to play characters who are making bad decisions. I’m not interested in playing nice people.

Sally attracted a lot of online hate, which reminded me of the reactions to female characters on other series. Why do people hate these women so much?

I wish I had an answer that made any logical sense. I feel like there’s just this undercurrent of cultural misogyny — the sexism involved in how we view those characters is wild to me. “Barry” was no exception. I was curious how that would go. My hunch was correct that we were met with the same type of misogyny, but that only made me want to double down and go harder.

Did any of it feel bad?

Only in the way that every single day as a woman can feel bad. When I was growing up, I was taught that we lived in an equal world, and I believed it. When I went to theater school, in my year, there were 20 boys to eight women. We were told: “Well, this is a model of the industry. It’s representative of what kind of roles are available to you.” And we all just nodded along like, “Oh, that makes sense.” I have a lot of latent rage around those things. Some of it I was able to channel through Sally’s outbursts, but I felt so frustrated as an actress when I was starting out at what was available. I’d have this litmus test of like, Does she only ask questions? Does she say, “I’m so worried about you, babe”? Does she have a point of view? Does she have a job?

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