By Gen Terblanche25 May 2023
Starting … now! Rosie Molloy Gives Up Everything and Barry S4
You want to change your life, but how? Just make a resolution, starting … now.
Alas, any advice that begins with the word “just” can go straight in the trash. Just get up earlier. Just get a job. Just eat less and exercise more. Just save more money. Just stop doing drugs, smoking, or drinking. Just go to therapy. Just leave him. Just stop killing people. Life would be a doddle if we could “just” handwave complexity.
Small lifestyle changes sustained over time – that’s one short phrase, but a towering wall of effort, motivation, diligence and discipline – is something that humans are notoriously bad at. And when we don’t understand how we came to be as we are, or how to resolve the conflict between the things we want, there’s little hope of changing at all.
It’s certainly not hopeless, though. Since laughter is the best medicine, two brilliant comedy-drama series on Showmax – Rosie Molloy Gives Up Everything and Barry – are here to help show us how to get change right … and how to get it terribly, terribly wrong.
Barry: “Just” want it
Dark comedy series Barry revolves around a depressed hitman who wants to leave his past as an assassin behind and find a new purpose as an actor in Hollywood. In one of the pivotal scenes in the show, Barry’s (Bill Hader) vain, combative and self-absorbed acting coach Gene (Henry Winkler) tells him, “I pray that human beings can change their nature. Because if we can’t, then you and I are in deep trouble.” As of the series’ second last episode, the show’s answer to that prayer seems to be, “LOL, you thought!”
Throughout Barry’s four seasons, the moment that temptation is waved under the nose of any of the key characters, they revert to their problematic behaviours. Barry murders to get rid of all obstacles and to protect himself, down to shooting an old army buddy in the face. Traumatised, abused and narcissistic actress Sally (Sarah Goldman) either falls into appeasing her abusers, treading on her allies, or pitching a fit that gets her blacklisted. And Gene tramples over everyone in his path as he gives in to the toxic allure of his own ego and the spotlight. Given a shot at renowned actor Daniel Day-Lewis playing Gene in a movie about Barry, Gene will tell his conscience to kiss his wrinkly butt.
As Barry shows us who its characters are as children, parents and lovers, it reveals that the things that are wrong with them are deeply rooted in their upbringing and environment. And that these issues poison every part of their lives.
Are they doomed? Well, no. Barry also exposes all three characters’ overarching problem, and it’s one they could fix. Barry, Sally and Gene only ever try to make huge, sweeping, all-or-nothing changes. There’s no reflection, no working out how and why they are the people they’ve become. At no point do any of them try to find those little steps that will help them work their way onto the right path. They want to “just” jump to the solution – which works as well as trying to get out of gridlocked traffic by deciding that you have a flying car. With each attempt to start over, Barry utters the fateful words, “Starting … now.”
There’s only one character in Barry who actively tries to change his life, and that’s smooth criminal and self-help psychology addict NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan), a fan of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. If Hank survives the series, self-help wins! But then again, we’ve also seen Hank break all four “agreements” in strategic and awful ways. Self help is hard, guys. Watch Barry now on Showmax
Rosie Molloy Gives Up Everything: Try, try again
You name it, 30-something Manchester party girl and high-functioning addict Rosie Molloy (Sheridan Smith) is addicted to it. Terry’s Chocolate Orange? She’ll smash the whole thing in one sitting. Cocaine? She’ll snort it off a tombstone. Alcohol? Just a handbag full, please – it’s a dry wedding.
When Rosie wakes up in hospital following her little brother Joey’s (Lewis Reeves) wedding, though, she realises that she has to change. But determination is not enough, and the series explores all the ways that Rosie tries to wiggle out of the promise she made herself, from backtracking, to escaping rehab, and attacking everyone who tries to call out her behaviour until she gets it together to go back to rehab. Even then she’s not quite ready for the terror of having to leave it all behind. Rosie already has one failed intervention under her belt before the story begins, although she jokes that she thought it was just a really dreadful birthday party theme.
While there’s plenty of silly fun to be had, especially if you love cringe comedy, we’re shown that the reality that Rosie has created for herself is one she can’t bear examining in the harsh light of sobriety. Rosie’s story reveals how living with shame and guilt of what she’s done forms a nearly insurmountable obstacle in her struggle with addiction, and how the fear of going through life without the help of the things she’s addicted to leads to a series of relapses on her road to recovery.
Along with all her addictions, in an effort to cushion herself, Rosie has curated a world in which she’s surrounded by a world full of people saying, “Oh, go on then, what can it hurt?”
In the opening scenes of the show, while Rosie’s hiding a cocaine nosebleed, she’s told that her father, Conall (Ardal O’Hanlon) has terminal heart disease, partly thanks to a lifelong habit of smoking, drinking, and pounding back the daily bacon. Does he stop smoking or drinking? He’d rather die!
Even in her own flat, Rosie’s housemate Nico (Oliver Wellington) is all too willing to join her in sneering at her sister-in-law Ruby’s (Adelle Leonce) attempts to help Rosie to abandon her A-Z of abuse, from alcohol to Z-drugs (Zopiclone, eszopiclone, zaleplon and zolpidem). And when Rosie assigns her co-worker Monica (Leah McRae) to help her get clean, it’s immediately clear that this isn’t a task you can delegate, especially not to a suck-up like Monica who’s happy to cheer on Rosie even when she’s trollied during a party celebrating her own promotion at work.
Family, home and work: if Rosie really wants to change, she won’t “just” be working to change herself. But she wants to try. Really. Starting … now. Watch Rosie Molly Gives Up Everything now on Showmax.
Enlightened Seasons 1 and 2: A self-destructive corporate executive (Laura Dern) returns to the workplace following time at a rehabilitation clinic, and struggles to fulfil her promise to herself to help herself and those around her.
In Treatment Seasons 1-4: In this star-studded drama series, a psychologist (Gabriel Byrne as Paul in Seasons 1-3, and Uzo Aduba as Brooke in Season 4) turns to their own therapist to help process the emotional impact from the patients that they treat during the week.
Euphoria Seasons 1-2: This drama series is one of the first to seriously challenge the conversation around black teens, drug addiction and recovery. It takes us inside how drug abuse devastates Rue’s (Zendaya) family and wrecks her life, and why, despite that, she struggles to pull herself out of the abyss.
Here And Now Season 1: Modern life is messy. This dark comedy (starring Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins) dives into the complex web of issues a therapist faces in dealing with one family who are dealing with multiracial adoption, infidelity, gender identity, and mental illness.
Rosie Molloy Gives Up Everything S1: Fighting Addiction
Barry S4: If I get out of here, I'm coming for you
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