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‘Barry’ Takes Not So Subtle Dig at Superhero Films

Is it terrible that I kind of want to see Mega Girls?

Sally sits in a chair on a movie set, with women in armor standing behind her. "Mega Girls" is written on two empty chairs.

When the trailer for Barry season 4 came out, I spotted Sally on a film set and hoped it meant that her career might make a comeback. Alas, that’s not actually the case: after a failed attempt as an acting teacher, in which Sally replicated the very abuse she suffered at the hands of Gene Cousineau, she’s now working as an acting coach for a model named Kristen, who has landed a part in a movie called Mega Girls.

When Sally arrives on set, though, she recognizes the Mega Girls director: it’s Sian Heder, director of the movie Coda. Before you Google it—yes, that’s actually the real Sian Heder, director of the actual movie Coda, making a cameo appearance in Barry.

Sally dutifully gushes about Sian’s work, but it quickly becomes clear that Sian doesn’t want to be there. She wrote and directed Coda! She won an Oscar! She never thought she’d be helming a cash grab starring models in Halloween costumes!

(A fun note about the title Mega Girls, by the way—according to the official Barry podcast, series star and creator Bill Hader was looking for the laziest possible superhero movie title. The suggestion for Mega Girls came from his girlfriend, one Ali Wong.)

A lot of people have been tossing around the phrase “superhero fatigue” lately, and with good reason. Ant-Man: Quantumania and Shazam! Fury of the Gods were both critical duds. The upcoming Flash movie seems to be DC’s frantic attempt to catch up to Marvel’s Multiverse Saga, by mashing together a bunch of nostalgic cameos and time travel. Marvel itself has spaced out its Disney+ series, dropping the number of 2023 releases from six titles to two.

Is Barry making fun of all the superhero movies? Yeah, I think that’s pretty clear. More specifically, though, Barry is making fun of the movies that bring critically acclaimed auteurs on board to direct them. Sometimes, these kinds of collaborations work out very well. When Taika Waititi took over the Thor franchise, the result was Thor: Ragnarok, one of the best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, when they brought on Chloe Zhao, director of the Oscar-winning Nomadland, to direct Eternals, they ended up with a bloated, boring mess. It’s no secret that Marvel producers exert a lot of control over their films—after all, each film has to tie into the overarching saga—but it means that directors don’t always have the creative freedom they need to tell a really good story.

However, the satire wasn’t the only interesting thing about the Mega Girls scene. Let’s talk about Sally’s acting career.

What’s next for Sally in Barry?

After Kristen freezes up on set, Sally tries to scoop the part for herself, delivering the lines in front of Sian. However, there’s no way the studio is going to give up a six-foot-tall model for a blonde who’s only conventionally hot. Sally looks like a normal person, not an Amazon. There’s no way she’s getting that part.

Later, though, Kristen’s agent approaches Sally, offering to help her get her career back on track. Even before Sally finds out that Barry has escaped from prison, though, she seems lukewarm on the idea of trying to rekindle her career. After all, what’s the point of trying, when Hollywood is looking for models and she’ll always be known as “Entitled Cunt Girl”?

Then there’s the time jump.

After Sally tells Barry that she wants to leave with him, we catch up to them several years later. They’re living in a house in the middle of the desert. They’ve got a kid. What on earth is going on?

We’ll find out next week, in episode 5—but it looks like Sally is leaving the world of Mega Girls behind for good.

(featured image: HBO Max)

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Julia Glassman (she/they) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at