This article contains spoilers for the "Barry" series finale.
I have a soft spot for Sally Reed (Sarah Goldberg), the aspiring diva starlet of "Barry." Sure, she's selfish and has poor judgment, but from all the past abuse she's suffered, you understand how she got like this. Unlike the rest of the cast, there's always a feeling that Sally could truly learn to be better, so it's extra disappointing that she rarely does. To paraphrase her forming teacher Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), "She's deeply human." So, I was pleased that the series finale, "wow," gave her as happy an ending as possible.
It's important to remember Sally's backstory when viewing the finale. She fled from her abusive first husband Sam (Joe Massingill) by leaving in the middle of the night. In "wow," she repeats this after Barry declines to turn himself in. Sally had previously sworn she'd never be with a violent man again, and the tragedy of her going back to Barry was in part that she fell back into old patterns. She again repeats the past, but this time it's different because she has a son, John (Zachary Golinger).
In an interview with Vulture, Goldberg said that Sally's distance from John up until the finale has been because he's "a living manifestation of the biggest mistakes she's ever made in her life. It's impossible not to reject him." Sally leaving Barry is as much about escaping as it is about her finally deciding to do right by her son. Sally told Barry that he "makes her feel safe," but in the finale, she's finally confident enough to leave him behind.
Eyes Straight Ahead
What happens to Sally after she and John walk out? Another time jump reveals that she's become a high school drama teacher. She follows in Gene's footsteps; her ego kept her from being a star, but she managed to find a way to keep her passion alive. However, I think Sally's choice represents growth on her part and is not her falling into the next chapter of a cycle.
We saw Sally trying to be an acting teacher earlier in season 4, back in "you're charming," and it didn't go well. Sally's flaw has always been her selfishness and teaching is an inherently selfless career; you give yourself over to others to help them succeed. Sally, though, tried to steal her student Kristen's (Ellyn Jameson) part in the blockbuster "Mega Girls." Previously, the idea of not being a star was Sally's view of rock bottom. Now, though, she's fine living more modestly. Sarah Goldberg agreed, telling Vulture:
"She's not rich and famous, but she's getting to do what she loves and that's actually enough. I love that there's this simplicity and purity of passion, I thought that was so lovely."
Sally says no to a coffee date with one of the school's history teachers, wisely deciding single parenthood is the life for her. The last we see of Sally is her driving home, alone, and turning to the passenger seat, filled only with a bouquet of flowers. Is she thinking of Barry? It doesn't matter, because a moment later she puts her eyes back on the road. After spending the series falling back into old habits and wasting opportunities, Sally is finally moving forward.
"Barry" is streaming on Max.
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The post The Barry Series Finale Brings Sally Reed's Story Full Circle appeared first on /Film.