Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Other Two closes out a strong debut season with an unexpected reset

Heléne Yorke & Drew Tarver
Heléne Yorke & Drew Tarver
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The Other Two had a successful debut season because creators Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider focused on the fundamentals. Their main duo—Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary (Drew Tarver) Dubek—were fully realized characters with nuanced motivations from the jump. The other members of the ensemble, like manager Streeter (Ken Marino) and doting mother Pat Dubek (Molly Shannon), were quickly developed and grounded in solid emotional terrain. Chase (Case Walker), the young viral sensation at the show’s center, functioned well as the ingenuous golden boy that everyone wants to protect. Aside from characterizations, there were plenty of good jokes, contained episode premises, and a savvy worldview that understood condescension wasn’t necessarily required to take the culture to task. The Other Two balanced its bitingly cynical take on modern show business, especially in the ways that it intersects with the Internet, and a fairly earnest story about two siblings who break out of their respective personal/professional ruts by riding the wave of their younger brother’s sudden success. It had a specific identity since the pilot and followed that thread through until the end of the season.

In the finale, Kelly and Schneider push the partial reset button and send Brooke and Cary back into the world of relative obscurity. On the night of the VMA’s, Brooke wrestles control of Chase’s performance away from Streeter, who wants to dress him up in absurd outfits instead of committing to the subtler, stripped-down presentation. Streeter might have been a goofy goober with wacky, hit-or-miss ideas this past season, but this time his instincts were sound. Chase goes up on stage in an all-white outfit accompanied by a small choir and just tanks his hit song, “Stink.” It turns out that nobody has ever actually heard him sing before. Streeter, knowing that Chase needs a lot of smoke and mirrors, wanted to put him in a dumb costume so that no one noticed his terrible voice. Still, Brooke manages to pull a managerial position of the fiasco, mostly because of her unearned confidence, which is half the battle in show business. However, with every victory comes a disappointment: Lance declines to get back together with Brooke, who only now has come to appreciate his sweet charm.


Cary, on the other hand, receives some great news: he’s been cast opposite Chase in Netflix’s new Freaky Friday remake, only this time with brothers. (It’s currently titled Untitled Brothers-Switching-Bodies-But-Not-In-A-Sex-Way Project because every other name was already taken by a gay porno.) Cary’s arc this season has been about rediscovering his self-worth through his identity. He’s initially tried to carve out a space for himself outside of Chase, and then proceeded to copy him with disastrous result, only to come out the other side as his own person but within Chase’s orbit. At least he fired Skip (Richard Kind), who he learns has been driving cabs in between half-heartedly representing him in public. Now, for better or worse, Streeter calls the shots.

Meanwhile, Chase worries that he’s angered and disappointed everyone with his lackluster performance. One of the smartest choices Kelly and Schneider make over the course of the season is to highlight Chase’s general indifference to fame. It would have been such a cheap potshot for Chase to be a monstrous child star who feeds off success and subsequently falls down a Bieber hole. Instead, he’s a fairly normal Gen Z kid who just so happened to poke the cultural zeitgeist at the right time. He’s along for the ride, but never really gets caught up in the spotlight. Even though Cary reassures him that everyone is so impressed by his composure, Chase isn’t exactly psyched to continue down the pop star path. After all, he’s not really having any fun.

So, naturally, he wants to go to college. The Other Two gets a lot of comedic mileage out of the horrified reactions from Brooke, Cary, and Streeter after Chase announces his intention to attend NYU. (Streeter just blacks out after hearing the word “college” and he’s holding a knife to his throat when he finally comes to.) Brooke and Cary went to college because they needed to in order to exist in the world, but Chase wants to go in order to escape the harsh light of stardom. Still, Brooke and Cary readily admit that they’re mostly frustrated out of selfishness. Chase wasn’t their ticket to celebrity, but to stable careers and a sense of purpose. Now, they’re back at square one because Michael Che decided to preach the wisdom of higher education.

Or maybe not. Kelly and Schneider do a good job of burying the news about Pat’s daytime talk show, Pat! The Pat Dubek Show (“Her husband may have froze, but she’s just heating up!” says the promo voiceover), until the very last shot, which Brooke and Cary roundly ignore. At this point, normalcy for these two is a pipe dream. Chase might be headed to college, but his pop career will still follow him around. Streeter has hitched his wagon to the Pat train, professionally and personally. Brooke and Cary might be out of jobs and partners, but they’re still just outside of the fame machine, same as it was when Chase made it big. They’re still the other two, only relative to someone else this time.


Stray observations

  • Streeter lost his virginity to Kelly Clarkson’s “Behind These Hazel Eyes.” Don’t ask him if that was long enough ago.
  • There are some great reaction shots in tonight’s episode, but my favorite might be Cary’s utter disbelief that Chase got accepted into NYU just by tweeting at them.
  • I can take or leave Michael Che, but I did laugh when Brooke tells him he’s a good guy and he shrugs in response and says, “I mean, I’m fine…”
  • Great dig at Hollywood casting: in Chase and Cary’s Freaky Friday-esque Netflix remake, Anna Kendrick (age 33) will play their mother and Debra Messing (age 50) will play their grandmother. (“Oh, Debra,” Brooke says sympathetically.)
  • “This bitch’s Year of Yes has gone way too far.”

Vikram Murthi is a freelance writer and critic currently based out of Brooklyn.

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