I had never heard of this show before Ricky Gervais recommended it. It’s rare for Gervais to recommend any show that’s not on Netflix (the home to his many series and stand-up shows), so I knew this one had to be worth checking out. And, boy, is it.
Mr. Inbetween is an Australian black comedy/crime drama that aired from 2018 to 2021 on FX (currently available to stream on Hulu). It claims to have aired here in the States, but I had never heard of it, which is crazy, because once I started watching, I literally couldn’t stop.
Mr. Inbetween was created by and stars Scott Ryan, an Australian actor/writer/producer who has virtually no credits to his name and broke out with this show (at least in Australia), a late bloomer at 50. Whatever life experience Ryan had before becoming an actor certainly informs his performance as Ray, a freelance fixer/hitman by night, a divorced dad by day.
Mr. Inbetween is certainly not as comical as that logline would seem, as he is definitely more hitman than dorky dad, but it is in the juxtaposition of Ray’s two allegiances that the show gets its depth and allure. Ray is clearly more at home with the gangsters and lowlifes of Sydney’s underbelly, but it is seeing him interact with his teenage daughter, his terminally ill brother and his civilian girlfriend where Ray’s vulnerabilities are revealed, and where we recognize his dark is only barely lessened by the light. While he is a good father, and, basically, a good person, there is a darkness lurking underneath, one that gets to come out and play when duty calls.
Ray completely reminded me of Mike Ehrmantraut, the beloved character played by the inimitable Jonathan Banks in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. Both Ray and Mike have a nobility to them, an underlying decency and desire to protect the vulnerable. But they are both severely broken, drawn to the darkness, believing it’s what they deserve. But in both, audiences are innately drawn to their wounded imperfections and their noble intentions.
Ray is a bit darker than Mike, and a little less likeable, but, as played by Ryan, Ray is captivating and absolutely impossible not to root for. Ryan plays Ray with a matter-of-factness that is incredibly appealing. There is no ego, no bravado, no showmanship. As a character and as an actor, he just goes about his job, making the extradordinary seem mundane—just another assassin’s day at the office.
If I try to figure out why this show was so addictive, I would say it’s the character of Ray that kept me hooked, plus I just love stories and characters like this–the short, 26-minute episodes also helped. It probably got lost in the shuffle because it is so much like Breaking Bad, and I get that. But Mr. Inbetween totally has its own vibe. It’s got a darkly comic sensibility, and it at times goes darker (and more violent) than Breaking Bad ever dared to go. But it is the overall underdog charm of Scott Ryan’s performance that hooked me and never let me go.
If you loved Breaking Bad, you must seek out Mr. Inbetween. Even if you’ve never seen Breaking Bad, but love a good crime series with a great character and lots of dark humor, Mr. Inbetween is for you. I can’t recommend it highly enough.