In its second season, the under-watched but excellent satire makes the leap from Comedy Central to HBO Max and is even better there.
By Valerie Ettenhofer · Published on August 22, 2021
Welcome to Previously On, a column that gives you an overview of the latest TV. This week, Valerie Ettenhofer reviews season 2 of the show-biz quirky comedy The Other Two.
In a modern television landscape overwhelmed by viewing choices, the term “hidden gem” has almost lost its meaning. Yet the criminally underrated comedy series The two others is exactly the kind of treasure worth digging for. The celebrity satire follows siblings riding in a coattail, 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 two others switches to HBO Max in season 2 and deserves all eyes on it.
This cynically funny saga about the instability of fame is exemplified by a nightmare ChaseDreams (Case Walker), a teenager with a golden retriever-like personality. He is cheerfully unnoticed by every PR stunt and cash grab he has been asked to attend by his insane manager, Streeter (a fantastic Ken Marino), and a record manager named Shuli (Wanda Sykes).
As season 2 of The two others begins, Chase’s victorious mother, Pat (Molly Shannon), has also just been catapulted to fame. She now hosts a daytime talk show featuring lengthy call and answer bits and a slate of random guests she met while running errands and making mistakes of celebrities.
While Chase and Pat find wild success despite their aww-shucks attitudes, the titular two other-Chase siblings Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Helene Yorke) – must scratch into the spotlight. This season, Cary is making money on her unintentionally cultivated “gay brother” persona by taking degrading host concerts to segments like “The Gay Minute for HuffPo, Sponsored By Advil” and the apt name with the micro interview “Age Net Worth Feet.”
Meanwhile, Brooke is trying to fend for himself as music director. She sits in cafes and rolls through TikTok, sending the same quickly-entered message to every teenage singer she finds. The two others Season 2 is just as cutting and ridiculous as Season 1, but if it one-ups its predecessor in a way, it’s with York’s performance.
This season, Brooke is desperate and power hungry. And willing to deprive himself of every last string of dignity if it means getting into a cool party. And Yorke plays her with funny intensity, grimacing through sticky situations while hitting a power bag.
She calls her clothes a “manager costume” and tells everyone she meets that they should be able to tell that she is important thanks to her radical side and a single angular earring. Brooke is a kid who plays dress up, but since The two others imagining showbiz as a place full of over-the-top phonies, her charade often works.
If season 1 of The two others is a targeted parody of child stardom, season 2 places the entire entertainment industry in its crosshairs. The series has had one 30 Rock taste it from the start, and some of its best bits continue to reveal the entertainment industry’s stupid, soulless, trend-chasing abdomen.
In one of season 2’s most inspired pieces, an exclusive party is centered around the unveiling of the latest Hadid. The model stands on a pedestal under a white sheet, treated like a sculpture despite her obvious human discomfort. Guests are not allowed to bring their phones because this “first look party for her face and body” is just a sneak peek at an unfinished product.
Unlike most shows that obscure the goals of their satire with fake names, The two others takes direct aim at real people and brands. No one escapes unharmed from the show. An incomplete list of names in season 2 includes Kieran Culkin, Blake Lively, Shutterfly, The bachelor, Anna Wintour, Noah Centineo and Chex Mix.
In a moment of unparalleled comic accuracy is a writer for one Riverdale spin-off places Cary on a stage where Goldilocks kills his older teacher character. “Like in the three bears?” Asks Cary. “Yes, they just let us do what we want,” the author replies, perfectly summarizing an actual CW series off the rails.
Despite its rapid and wild removal of the industry where it lies, there is an undercurrent of melancholy for season 2 of The two others. Brooke is clearly lonely. She buys a huge apartment, after which auditions go on a date, so she wants someone to share it with. Cary increasingly feels trapped in a relationship and longs to experience the gay rites of passage he missed when he was growing up.
In the meantime, Chase just wants to make music again, but his team is working on coming up with a series of absurd branding opportunities after a disastrous live performance reveals that he is a bad singer. And Pat, in the most subtly sad plot of the season, spends every free moment with fans relating to her struggles as a widow and single mother.
So much of the series works because its sideshow protagonists are games to go along with even the most bizarre showbiz claims in exchange for a glimpse of fame. Season 2 of The two others gives us a glimpse of Cary and Brooke’s inner self, and it adds an emotional foundation to the chaos that season 1 lacked. With clever, scorching comedy and a cast willing to go after soft, the show deserves more than fifteen minutes of fame.
The Other Two Season 1 is now streamed on HBO Max while season 2 debuts on August 26th.
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Valerie Ettenhofer is a California-based freelance writer, Scooby-Doo fan and scam enthusiast. As a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects, she covers television through regular reviews and her recurring column, Episodes. She is also a voting member of the Critics Choice Association’s television and documentary film. @aandeandval (She her)
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