Other than FOX’s The Masked Singer, Comedy Central’s The Other Two might just be the biggest surprise of 2019. Yes, there are still 11 months left in the year, but since those months aren’t happening yet, the point stands.
Created by former Saturday Night Live head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, The Other Two tells the story of Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary (Drew Tarver), older siblings to a YouTube viral sensation named ChaseDreams (Case Walker). Brooke and Cary are both about to be on the wrong side of 30 and have little to show for it. Brooke was a professional dancer when she was Chase’s age, but now she’s floundering in both her professional and personal lives. Cary, on the other hand, is a waiter/struggling actor who has to contend with being deemed either “too gay” for straight parts or not social media famous enough for gay parts, alongside his general feeling that he deserves more than he has right now. Once, Chase breaks out, Cary’s often just called “gay brother,” which is definitely not a timesaver compared to “Cary” but is arguably easier to remember. (He’s got some serious middle child issues.)
Based off the original announcement about the series and even its trailers, you could say its easy to see where this all goes: Brooke and Cary resent Chase but ultimately try to use him to advance their own careers, their mother Pat (Molly Shannon) is a stage mom caricature, Chase is a secret monster, and it all exists amongst the backdrop of mocking YouTube stardom and influencer culture.
But the funny thing is, that’s not the show at all. Well, the last part is a component of the show’s DNA, but that’s just because the series is a satire. It just so happens to be a satire with a ton of heart, like the underrated feature film Josie and the Pussycats. The series technically takes place in the real world, but it’s just askew enough that you might question it. Technically, there’s nothing askew about the world of The Other Two at all; it just heightens the idea of people being “famous for nothing” or “only being famous to Gen Z-ers.” It’s also apparent that, while Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider certainly aren’t experts on this particular world — unlike Case Walker, a 15-year-old who broke out on Musical.ly, amassing nearly 2 million fans on that platform — they did the research to make the joke more than two-dimensional. Because of how seedy and dark all of this is, it’s for the best that The Other Two is more concerned with keeping the family dynamic strong and these characters trying to keep each other afloat, whatever that means. In fact, despite how low things are for them, Chase still looks up to his siblings and even attributes the entire concept of chasing your dreams to them.
Like any good/bad viral YouTube sensation, ChaseDreams’ songs are upsettingly catchy, especially one called “Stink.” (The lyrics are absolutely bonkers.) But while these songs and their accompanying videos reach varying degrees of absurdity, the series isn’t punching down to mock Chase and his viral contemporaries. Instead, The Other Two smartly lampoons how ridiculous it is that a kid who decides to make a fun video (Chase’s breakout video, “Marry U At Recess”) can become a manufactured brand, existing in a bizarre bubble detached from reality. While Shannon’s Pat (and her “year of yes”) represents the surprising fun that can come out of a situation, Ken Marino’s manager character Streeter is the gateway to seeing all the people who don’t have Chase’s best interests at heart and only see dollar signs — people like Wanda Sykes’ publicist character, Shuli.
Instead, while the Dreams (aka Dubek) family are in a messy place — a point that is also exacerbated by the fact that Papa Dreams passed away just a year ago — The Other Two regularly reinforces how much they love each other and root for each other to succeed. The feelings of jealousy and incredulity are definitely there on Brooke and Cary’s parts, but that never steps on the genuine love between the family. And it’s key that Yorke, Tarver, Walker, and Shannon truly do come across as a strong family unit, with Marino as the obnoxious interloper who only thinks he’s a part of the family (in the strangest way possible). As Brooke tells Cary early in the season, “We must live every day like it’s the last day that Chase is famous.”