Gene Cousineau And Sally Reed In ‘Barry’ Season 4, Explained

In the HBO series Barry, some of the nuanced characters present in the narrative had a big impact on both the plot and Barry’s personal life. Gene Cousineau and Barry’s girlfriend Sally were two of the most important characters on the show since their presence in this entertaining dark comedy raised the bar and added complexity to the show. Gene Cousineau was one of the most complex characters, with a contradictory nature and a hilarious comic approach. Every time he appeared on screen, he had the ability to change the mood of the story. Viewers could go from hating him to sympathizing with him, finding his character engaging and very human. In fact, all the characters in Barry were portrayed as very human, highlighting the basic nature of humanity and our propensity to make mistakes. However, Gene Cousineau excelled at creating perilous situations for himself, making him one of the funniest and stupidest characters in the series.


Spoilers Ahead

The Rise And Fall Of Gene Cousineau: How Did Gene End Up As A Villain?

Played by Henry Wrinkler, Gene Cousineau was first introduced as Barry Berkman’s acting coach. In his acting classes, Gene’s methods and teaching skills worked like a charm on Barry. Barry was drawn to Gene’s amazing ability to bring out the actor in anyone. Given Gene’s experience in the field, it was not surprising that he possessed these qualities. However, what set him apart and categorized him as a flawed character in the series was his constant hunger for attention and stardom. Gene Cousineau was indeed quite egotistical, grandiose, and flamboyant in nature. He had a larger-than-life personality and a strong desire for fame. After his girlfriend, Janice Moss, was killed by Barry, despite multiple warnings from Jim Moss, Gene spoke to a reporter. In a hilarious and attention-seeking manner, he performed a two-hour one-act show to depict how Janice Moss was killed by Barry and how he assisted Jim in apprehending the killer. However, Gene didn’t stop there. Even after eight years, when Barry was nearly a forgotten name, Gene approached Warner Bros. to make a movie about Barry, which was completely unnecessary. Although his decision to back off from making the film might raise questions about his motivation, it can be assumed that he was offended by the idea of Barry being portrayed as the protagonist.


However, Gene fell into Jim Moss’s trap when one of Jim’s men lured him with a false invitation, claiming that his role in the Barry film would be played by none other than Daniel Day-Lewis. This clearly demonstrates that Gene couldn’t resist falling into the trap due to his own greed and desire for publicity. Similar to Barry, Gene was an incredibly impulsive person. Without thinking twice, he acted, causing harm to himself and those around him. A humorous scene portrays his impulsiveness when he mistakenly shoots his own son, mistaking him for Barry. This incident created a rift between father and son, ultimately leading his son to turn against him. Even at the end of the series, when the blame for killing Janice fell on Gene Cousineau’s shoulders, he once again listened to his inner demons rather than seeking counsel from others. He fatally shot Barry, leaving the authorities with no choice but to arrest him.

Gene Cousineau’s character underwent a trajectory that showcased his rise as an effective acting teacher and his eventual downfall as a killer. During this time, the boundary between Gene and Barry’s mentalities became blurred, revealing that Gene was also capable of committing murder. As a result, the differences between Gene and Barry diminish, and it is revealed towards the end of the story that Gene could have had a better life if he had given Barry some time to surrender. However, Gene was always a reckless individual, which both amused and annoyed the audience. When the film was released at the end of the series, it laid all the blame on Gene’s shoulders, making him the antagonist of the story. Barry’s son learned to think the opposite of reality, just as Barry had wished. Gene was unable to defend himself after making such a careless error and was caught, getting a life sentence in jail.


The Complexity Of Sally Reed: Why Was Sally Separated From Barry?

Played by Sarah Goldberg, Sally Reed was depicted as the love interest and a central character, but it’s important to note that she was far from being a saintly character. Throughout the story, Sally displays a high level of confusion and contradiction. Sally initially met Barry, a new actor who didn’t even grasp the ABCDs of acting, at Gene Cousineau’s acting class. Although Sally already felt a connection to him, Barry’s undivided attention to her was the only thing that made it stronger. During the early stages of their relationship, Sally was seen using Barry rather than actually loving him. But over time, when Sally was almost trapped in her relationship with Barry, it became ultimately impossible for her to get out of it. She gradually realized that the person she was dealing with was nothing but a psychopath.

Sally was an aspiring actress with great talent and dedication to her craft. She had dreams of becoming a successful actor, but Barry’s presence in her life caused significant havoc. However, upon closer inspection, we see that Sally had deep flaws ingrained in her psyche as well. She had a short temper and often picked fights in her workplace, which led to the loss of significant support in her life. Growing up with a constantly complaining and taunting mother, Sally developed impatience and struggled to control her rage.


Eventually, Sally made a grave mistake in her life by killing an assassin in self-defense. Although Barry took care of disposing of the body, Sally couldn’t escape the guilt of taking a life. The weight of the crime traumatized her deeply, preventing her from living in peace. When Barry was arrested for Janice’s murder, it came as a shock to Sally, but she felt powerless to judge him since she had committed a similar crime. However, she could have chosen a different path for her life and moved on, but she couldn’t. When Barry escaped from prison and sought shelter at Sally’s place, Sally’s sanity was on the verge of collapse. Aware that being known as a killer’s girlfriend would hinder her acting career, she felt hopeless about her future prospects. She decided to stay by Barry’s side, believing she was a criminal who deserved punishment. Choosing the difficult path, she lived with Barry under a different identity in a hidden location. However, her inner demons tormented her, and she experienced delusions driven by guilt. The persistent feeling of being unsafe and the fear that her son was in danger plagued her mind.

Sally attempted to confront Gene in hopes of negotiating with him, but fate did not favor her. Finally, she made the decision she should have made much earlier. Realizing that Barry would never truly acknowledge his mistakes and give himself a chance at redemption, she separated from him, taking her son with her to provide him with a better future. After Barry’s death, she was finally able to fulfill her dreams. She became involved in the theater, reconnecting with her roots, and became a responsible mother who prioritized her child’s well-being, striving to provide him with a brighter future.


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Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda
Poulami Nanda hails from a medical background, yet her journey is to cross the boundaries of medicine and survive in the cinematic world. The surrealistic beauty of cinema and art has attracted her from a very young age. She loves to write poems, songs, and stories, but her dream is to write films someday. She has also worked as a painter, but nothing attracts her more than cinema. Through her writings, she wants to explore the world of cinema more and more and take her readers on the same ride.

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