The Other Two went on a forced, seemingly short-term break from production in March 2020. In March 2021, they finally returned to set, becoming one with nasal swabs to do their show their way, which means weaving New York City and its unique side characters into the mix. Not in the mix? COVID storylines. This isn’t that show. According to star Heléne Yorke, The Other Two (whose second season begins today on HBO Max) is meant to be a comfort. Just one where you feel better watching people poke fun at celebrity and social-first culture while speaking directly to the frustrations of trying to find your way through a world where everyone seems as outwardly perfect as you are internally awkward.
This isn’t the same show as it was in season 1, though. Well, not exactly. All of the above still factors in, but Brooke and her brother Cary (Drew Tarver) seem to be in a better place with their careers while no longer being attached to the hull of their Bieber-esque brother’s viral fame. Well, not quite as attached. But subtle evolutions can still be scary and the characters still fall flat, freak out, and hilariously misread moments and other people around them. “She’s still Brooke,” says Yorke when we spoke about the new season. “I think she’s trying to find her way through the surprise of being actually capable at something.”
We spoke with Yorke about Brooke’s growth, fitting in with the comedy cool kids who run the show, Tarver’s bold pandemic facial hair choices, becoming the patron saint of the put-upon Zoom call participant, and why falling asleep to her show is the ultimate compliment.
Is it intimidating to work with a pair of showrunners like Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, where they have so much experience working together and, obviously, an established pattern and dynamic?
It’s a great question. When I went in for it and had an audition, I met them, and I was like, “I’ll never get this. I’m not a cool …” Like these are the head writers of SNL, they have an arsenal of cool, funny people at their disposal. I was this theater kid that had run around and done some various other things, but it sort of felt like getting admitted to an amazing club, like being asked to come work with them. And what’s so amazing about Chris and Sarah is that they’re incredibly disarming. They’re lovely people. And so it doesn’t feel like, “Oh, I can’t put my own stamp on this.” They’re smart because they celebrate the actors they work with. And I think that they got so much experience of that through doing SNL, having all these wonderful comedians that they worked with and tailoring sketches to them… specifically Kate [McKinnon] and Aidy [Bryant].
I think Brooke was written with Sarah in mind. We had shot the pilot, and then what’s so incredible and flattering is that as it goes on, I noticed the character gets… It’s tailored to me, which makes it very easy to play. Like friends of mine, family, they’re all like, “I just feel like I’m watching you.” Which is both flattering for the acting accolades and also terrifying to know that I am actually this kind of a mess. That it’d be that believable that I’d be flailing in this way. Thanks, guys.
“It’s like a documentary. Wow!”
Yeah, exactly. But I think I spent the entire pilot terrified because I was a fan, and plus like Drew (Tarver) is an improviser, and everybody worked on SNL. I remember this one day Beck [Bennett] was on set, and it was like watching a ping pong match. And I’m kind of sitting there wanting to stick my hand in the spokes of the wheels and say something funny and just knowing that you’ll never step up to the shit that just comes out of their faces naturally.
Contrast that with how it is when you’re filming season two. How’s your comfort level?
That’s the thing, I think there’s a shorthand. Sarah will come up to me and she’ll just say, “You know, that thing that you do?” I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” So it’s just these notes that are non-notes that I just know how to interpret based on how they know. Sarah directed a couple of episodes this season, and she gave me a literal note, which was, “Can you do that thing that your face does?” And I knew exactly what she was talking about.
And so the shorthand, when you do a season two, is just so nice. Also Drew and I got so much closer. We were in touch all during the pandemic. He was down in Georgia refurbing an Airstream and growing mutton chops. I was in New York trying to force myself to ride my Peloton enough to burn off the booze and cheese. Trying to keep it tight for my career! [Laughs]
No mutton chops for you?
No mutton chops for me. Well, I shave them and wax them. I keep that shit correct.
I hope you screenshotted Drew’s mutton chops for blackmail purposes.
It wasn’t even a mutton chop. I’m sorry, it was a mullet and basically mutton chops. Then they made a T-shirt of his profile of that time. He loves it. He was very proud, he has a time-lapse of when he shaved it all off. Trash.
It’s a timeless look.
Yeah, timelessly bad. [Laughs]
Obviously, the nature with any show is to sort of evolve or die. When you’re reading these pages to start, is there any apprehension that they’re going to move away from the thing that you just got really good at?
What was great about reading the pages for season two is that it was a build on where she was and where she’s going. But what I loved about it is that it wasn’t a departure from who she is. She’s still kind of clueless. She’s still in a mode of trying to see 50 dicks, but it’s a little bit of a fancier situation now. [Laughs] So it’s Brooke, but in better clothes and actually being able to find somewhere to live. I honestly, and again, it’s flattering and also terrifying to realize that I get compared to this a lot. I think that you look at people that have status or are doing really well… That their lives are completely together and you’re like, “No, I still need to run out and figure out how I’m going to get fucking toilet paper, like a full pile of trash.”
I’m trying to put this eloquently: you’re always who you are. No matter where you find yourself, you’re always who you are. Your anxieties are the same. And I think that that’s universally true for everybody. And what I love about what Chris and Sarah did was, I think, what they touch on with the character is thinking like, “Oh.” You look at how evolved people are about stuff, like there is a journey for Brooke about figuring out her own place in feminism, you know what I mean? Like thinking, “Oh my god, I need to be this woman who’s totally realized, and really, I’m just trying to figure myself out.” And I think that it’s relatable, it’s like a meme that you’re like, “Oh my god, me too.” I feel that is how Brooke was written.
Do you realize how much of a folk hero you’re about to become because of the Zoom revenge scene this season?
The small talk that you all endure all the time. I know, I was telling a friend of mine who has what I call a real job. And I was saying like, “Oh my god, I’m on all these back-to-back Zooms on Thursday.” And she was like, “Oh my god, relax. You have Zooms on a Thursday. How dare you complain?”
I was on a call yesterday. It was like the first call of the day. And somebody asked somebody how they were doing. And they were like, “Oh, I’m good” in a sort of unexcited way. And the other person sarcastically said, “Wow. Way to bring the enthusiasm.” And that was the most offensive thing.
Oh my god, I’m doing my best to give you literally anything! You know, I keep getting sick of like… I got invited to Zoom baby showers. And everybody’s there trying to figure out who’s talking at what time. I find that I scream at the computer. I’m constantly losing my voice because I’m trying to emote and connect to somebody through a screen. So my voice is 10 times louder and I’m gesticulating wildly. I’m exhausted by the end of it. Yeah, trying to make jokes, like what am I doing? I once did a reading of a play over Zoom and the director was like, “Are you okay?” And I’m like, “I’m not,” I’m pushing everything, trying so hard to be funny.
They were telling me before that this is the first call of the day for you.
I’m literally yelling at you already.
You’re going to be burned out by number 10. The guy from TVFunWire or whatever is not going to get the same quality discourse that I’m getting. Oh well.
No, you’re dealing with me and my brain fog of like, “Who is Brooke? She is this for you. This is the show. Please watch. We like it. Doing my best! Please watch The Other Two. Please.” [Laughs]
That’s fine. Nobody ever really gives a full plug. That’s the full honest plug.
It’s so funny, friends of mine, or people that I meet, ask me what I’m doing. I tell them about it and I’m like, “Watch it, you’ll like it.” It’s the easiest thing I’ve been in to recommend to other people. Trust me, I have been in shit where I’m like, “You don’t have to watch it, or you don’t have to come see me in this,” or whatever. But with this, I’m like, “Oh, just fucking watch it, you’ll like it.”
A friend of mine paid the best compliment I’ve ever heard about the show. She was like, “It’s the thing I put on when I want to go to sleep at night,” which to me is not I’m boring, she’s falling asleep. It’s like she’s watched it so many times, it’s good, she has it on in the background. It makes her happy, it’s where she wants her subconscious to be in her dream state. It’s like people have been falling asleep to Seinfeld for 20 years. It’s like that’s the ultimate compliment. I told Chris and Sarah and they’re like, “She’s sleeping to it? That’s rude.” And I was like, “No, you don’t get it. This is the ultimate praise.”
‘The Other Two’ is streaming now via HBO Max.