Drew Tarver and Heléne Yorke at table

Warner Bros. Discovery/The Other Two

‘The Other Two’ is the new predictor of pop-culture absurdity 

The show’s also scathing in its takedown of social media and fandoms.

 

Audra Schroeder

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Analysis

I have yet to calculate the LPM (laughs per minute) that HBO’s The Other Two consistently delivers, but in season 3 it has figured out the formula

When the show premiered in 2019, it was initially about ChaseDreams (Case Walker), a young Justin Bieber-esque singer with a hit single, and his family’s struggle to adjust to sudden fame. His older brother Cary (Drew Tarver) and sister Brooke (Heléne Yorke) are the titular other two, and Molly Shannon plays mom Pat, who becomes a popular daytime talk show host.  

In season 3, which concludes this week, Cary and Brooke are in the spotlight as they desperately try to figure out how they’re going to get famous. Cary’s plotline is especially pertinent: He’s finally seeing some success with a string of middling TV and film roles, including a Netflix fantasy show he’s just accepted will be bad. When it’s 100 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, he can’t believe it: “My bad show is good?” he says to the camera, his voice taking on a demonic tone. 

This season, I’ve seen more people compare The Other Two to 30 Rock, a show that satirized the entertainment industry and the people who toil in it. 

More than a decade after it ended, some 30 Rock jokes have really not aged well, but the show also became secondhand for things that sound like they’re from 30 Rock becoming real-world events

Earlier this month, a live-action Bambi movie, directed by Sarah Polley, was announced. As noted on Twitter, The Other Two already parodied this announcement in season 2, when Chase is cast as Thumper in a Bambi live-action film, which Brooke assures will be like the original but “cost more and look worse.” Elsewhere, Cary is hired to be in a Disney animated film as its first queer character, and people found some timely parallels there, too. 

The 30 Rock comparison tracks: Lorne Michaels is a producer and former SNL writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider created the show. But The Other Two is now being referenced on its own in regards to real shows that seem like they’re from the Other Two universe, like a new Zooey Deschanel Max show called What Am I Eating? 

“I love how we have created a fake 30 Rock show to fake The Other Two show pipeline,” said one tweet

The show’s also scathing in its takedown of social media and fandoms. In one episode, Chase falls for a non-famous girl and his fans get upset, so label exec Shuli (Wanda Sykes) and Brooke suggest sending her to live in the woods so fans don’t “Dox her to death.” Elsewhere, they conspire to remake Chase as a “bad boy” to appeal to fans, and when that doesn’t work his transformation into a “bad man” is truly inspired. When Shawn Mendes released a new song during the Canadian wildfires, it got a lot of The Other Two comparisons.

The Idol, which is thankfully almost over at HBO, is supposed to be showing the toxic consequences of fame, but The Other Two is doing a much better job

Why it matters

The Other Two has been great all three seasons, but this current one is where it felt like it really found its rhythm. Unfortunately, a lot of shows get canceled before they get to that point now. 

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