In a modern television landscape that’s overwhelmed by viewing choices, the term “hidden gem” has all but lost meaning. Yet the criminally underrated comedy series The Other Two is exactly the kind of treasure worth digging for. The celebrity satire follows the coattail-riding siblings of a Justin Bieber type. The first season of the show aired on Comedy Central in 2019 and should have become a monster hit. Instead, it fell into streaming service limbo.
Fortunately, The Other Two makes the move to HBO Max for Season 2 and deserves all eyes on it.
This cynically funny saga about the fickleness of fame is exemplified by overnight sensation ChaseDreams (Case Walker), a teenager with a golden retriever-like personality. He’s cheerfully unphased by every PR stunt and cash grab he’s asked to participate in by his crazed manager, Streeter (a fantastic Ken Marino), and a record executive named Shuli (Wanda Sykes).
As Season 2 of The Other Two begins, Chase’s winsome mom, Pat (Molly Shannon), has just been catapulted to fame, too. She now hosts a daytime talk show that includes long-winded call-and-response bits and a slate of random guests she met while running errands and mistook for celebrities.
While Chase and Pat find wild success despite their aww-shucks attitudes, the titular other two — Chase’s siblings Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Heléne Yorke) — have to claw their way into the spotlight. This season, Cary is cashing in on his accidentally cultivated “gay brother” persona by taking degrading hosting gigs for segments like “The Gay Minute for HuffPo, Sponsored By Advil,” and the aptly titled micro-interview show “Age Net Worth Feet.”
Meanwhile, Brooke is attempting to make it on her own as a music manager. She sits in cafes and scrolls through TikTok, sending the same hastily typed message to every teen boy singer she finds. The Other Two Season 2 is as cutting and ridiculous as Season 1, but if it one-ups its predecessor in one way, it’s with Yorke’s performance.
This season, Brooke is desperate and power-hungry. And willing to strip herself of any last shreds of dignity if it means getting into a cool party. And Yorke plays her with hilarious intensity, grimacing through sticky situations while striking a power pose.
She calls her clothes a “manager costume” and tells everyone she meets that they should be able to tell she’s important thanks to her radical side part and single edgy earring. Brooke is a kid playing dress-up, but since The Other Two imagines showbiz as a place full of over-the-top phonies, her charade often works.
If Season 1 of The Other Two is a targeted parody of child stardom, Season 2 places the entire entertainment industry in its crosshairs. The series has had a 30 Rock flavor to it from the start, and some of its best bits continue to reveal the vapid, soulless, trend-chasing underbelly of the entertainment industry.
In one of Season 2’s most inspired bits, an exclusive party centers around unveiling the newest Hadid. The model stands on a pedestal under a white sheet, treated as a sculpture despite her obvious human discomfort. Guests aren’t allowed to bring in their phones because this “first look party for her face and body” is only a sneak peek of an unfinished product.
Unlike most shows, which obfuscate the targets of their satire with fake names, The Other Two takes direct aim at real people and brands. No one escapes the show unscathed. An incomplete list of the name-drops in Season 2 includes Kieran Culkin, Blake Lively, Shutterfly, The Bachelor, Anna Wintour, Noah Centineo, and Chex Mix.
In a moment of unparalleled comedic accuracy, a writer for a Riverdale spin-off pitches Cary on a scene in which Goldilocks kills his elderly teacher character. “As in the three bears?” Cary asks. “Yeah, they just let us do whatever we want,” the writer answers, perfectly summing up an actual, off-the-rails CW series.
Despite its swift and savage takedown of the industry in which its set, there’s an undercurrent of melancholy to Season 2 of The Other Two. Brooke is obviously lonely. She buys a huge apartment then auditions dates so she’ll have someone to share it with. Cary feels increasingly trapped in a relationship and longs to experience the gay rites of passage he missed while growing up.
Meanwhile, Chase just wants to make music again, but his team works to come up with a series of absurd branding opportunities after a disastrous live performance reveals he’s a bad singer. And Pat, in the most subtly sad plot of the season, spends every free moment with fans who relate to her struggles as a widow and single mom.
So much of the series works because its sideshow protagonists are game to go along with even the most outlandish showbiz demands in exchange for a glimmer of fame. Season 2 of The Other Two gives us a glimpse of Cary and Brooke’s inner selves, and it adds an emotional foundation beneath the chaos that Season 1 lacked. With clever, searing comedy and a cast that’s willing to go for broke, the show deserves more than fifteen minutes of fame.
The Other Two Season 1 is now streaming on HBO Max while Season 2 debuts on August 26th.
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