Even though HBO’s Barry is named after the titular character played by co-creator Bill Hader’s titular character, an aspiring actor moonlighting as a hit-man, his love interest, Sally (Sarah Goldberg), gets just as much screen time as him. Sally made Barry want to become an actor, and she has been his only love interest throughout the series’ four-season run. Depicted as more of an innocent character, Sally still is not without faults. Over the series, we see how she is a very inconsiderate and selfish person, which is mostly evident through her “friendship” with Natalie (D’Arcy Carden).
Sally Is Not the Greatest Friend to Natalie
From the beginning, Sally has disregarded Natalie’s feelings as an actress and as a person. Barry meets both of them in an acting class run by Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler), which is where he becomes interested in Sally and inserts himself into her crowd. This includes attending a party that the whole class attends. Prior to the party, Natalie told the entire acting class about her crush on another aspiring actor who would be attending the party. When Sally rejects Barry at the party, though, she ends up leaving with Natalie’s crush, which deeply upset her.
Nobody ever calls Sally out on this, and she continues to disrespect Natalie. The acting class puts on various performances like Macbeth, and, usually, Sally would get cast as Lady Macbeth. When Winkler’s character decides to cast Natalie, Sally is as harsh as she can be and insists that she did it better. Eventually, Sally is re-cast as Lady Macbeth, and Natalie only gets the role back when Sally decides to take on Macbeth himself.
Taking on Macbeth kick-started her career, and following her decision to share her personal trauma through her acting made her character more likable. She eventually gets her own show titled Joplin based on her own life and briefly rises to stardom. But with new fame, Sally retreats into her old ways. Natalie works as her assistant on the show and supports Sally enthusiastically in any way she could, and though Sally found comfort in that, she still tried to silence her. She even tells Natalie to essentially stop talking while working on the pilot episode.
Despite all of this, Natalie still stood by Sally. To add salt to the wound of Joplin getting canceled, Sally discovers that Natalie is working as a showrunner on a series with a very similar premise. When she confronts her, she yells in her face using intense vulgarity. Unbeknownst to her, though, Natalie recorded her and the video went public destroying Sally’s career. Anyone would be upset by someone stealing an idea and getting fame from it, but Sally went above and beyond with her rage. She leans into Barry’s dark side and asks him to torment Natalie for her. In the same scene, someone attempts to kill Barry, and she kills the intruder after breaking free from his chokehold. This shows that Sally has always had a dark side in her, and it explains why she ran away with Barry after learning his true self.
Sally Has a Dark Side Just Like Barry
After the time jump, the audience learns that Natalie’s show, Just Desserts has done incredibly well and has earned the attention of the president. She wins awards for the show and during her acceptance speeches, she gives a very similar speech to Sally’s when Joplin premiered. Working as a waitress and living on the run, Sally obsesses over Natalie stealing her shine, and she also leans more into her dark side. After being an aspiring actress for so long and nearing the success from it, it is completely understandable that Sally would be depressed about the way her life changed. The thing is, though, she was given a chance to repair her career somewhat just before agreeing to run away with Barry.
For some unknown reason, she instead runs away with Barry into a life of anonymity and motherhood. But even before this, leaning into her anger led to her career ruin in the first place. Natalie stealing her ideas for a series called Just Desserts is poetic because Sally deserves this punishment. Yes, Natalie did steal her ideas and piggyback her success off of Sally, but Sally is also guilty of stealing from Natalie countless times. She stole her lovers, her roles, her attention, and her labor, all in pursuit of stardom.
After the time jump, it actually seems like Sally has completely taken on Barry’s dark side with her obsessiveness and general unhappiness. While she works as a waitress, Barry raises their son, John (Zachary Golinger), and his old anger issues are (apparently) gone. He is now filled with love and compassion, and on the surface, seems like a good father. It is very clear that John even prefers his father over Sally and seems distraught at the thought of being left alone with his mother who so clearly resents him.
In having a relationship and family with Sally, Barry got what he wanted and this allowed him to become a loving and compassionate person. But Sally blowing up her life led to a path of anger and resentment, and it does not even seem like she blames herself for this life. Her obsessiveness over Natalie’s success proves that she blames Natalie for the ruin of her career, and her resentment toward Barry and their son shows that she blames Barry for the life that she leads now.
Barry is filled with shady characters who are now getting their “just desserts” and Sally is one of them. Barry may be a hitman, but he is not the only person who has hurt others. Sally hurt Natalie over and over throughout the course of the series so her part in Natalie’s success gives her a little bit of revenge. If she had come to Natalie calmly, she may have also helped Sally by including her in Just Desserts, but she let her anger and selfishness control her instead.