It’s been a long two and a half years since The Other Two debuted on Comedy Central. The ingenious show, from Saturday Night Live writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, was a sleeper hit in 2019, reveling in its mile-a-minute jokes, idiosyncratic-yet-familiar characters, and pop culture references. The first season offered a window into celebrity and internet culture—effortlessly generating laughter and memes—while also acting as an indictment of it. In its second season, which will stream on HBO Max, The Other Two feels more grounded and a bit more grown-up, without losing any of the heightened humor and charm. The series continues to capture New York City’s bizarre entertainment scene with scathing sass.
Heléne Yorke and Drew Tarver play siblings Brooke and Cary Dubek, a.k.a. the titular “other two,” so named because their teenage brother is popular singer ChaseDreams Dubek (Case Walker). They mostly fail to use his clout to advance their respective careers: Brooke as a manager, and Cary as an actor. The sophomore season unpacks what fame really means to all the Dubeks, as Brooke, Cary, and even their mother Pat (Molly Shannon) start getting a taste of it themselves. Yorke and Tarver both broke out as performers in the first season, but in the new episodes, it’s the former who steals the spotlight in just about every scene. Yorke plays up Brooke’s antics as she taps into her character’s emotionally charged moments, especially in episode four, “Pat Hosts Just Another Regular Show.” The new season really allows Yorke to dive into those aspects as Brooke learns how to center herself once her career thrives—and even becomes chaotic.
After acting briefly as Chase’s manager in the season-one finale, “Chase Performs At The VMAs,” Brooke is hellbent on making a living in the music business. With Chase out of the game—he quit music and is now documenting his way through NYU via Instagram—Brooke is in need of new clients. Her search basically entails scrolling through TikTok to find the next big teen sensation, going to a school event, and even showing up at a kid’s house to try to recruit him. Brooke partly does all this so she doesn’t have to represent Pat, who has become an Ellen DeGeneres-like daytime host. Actually, in the show’s universe, Pat might be more renowned than DeGeneres or Rachael Ray, which is no surprise considering Shannon is an utter delight as the doting mother of three.
Meanwhile, Cary is on a string of random hosting gigs. His trajectory offers a pivotal way for The Other Two to inject its pop culture commentary, as it follows his time as host of The Gay Minute to an actual foot-cam network, to appearances on Bagel Bites TV and Thrillist TV, the latter capturing incongruous corporate collaborations in real life. While looking for a new agent, Cary realizes that, in order to be taken seriously, he must become a writer, too. Instead of actually sitting down and putting pen to paper or pecking away at a laptop, he dresses up like Riverdale’s Jughead Jones, buys a Moleskine, and strolls through Central Park with notebook in hand. In the spectacular fifth episode, “Chase Gets Baptized,” the siblings almost join a Scientology-like cult so Brooke has easy access to Hollywood’s perks and Cary can connect with a producer making a Riverdale spin-off about Goldilocks (“They really let us do anything,” the fictional producer says at one point).
The Other Two smartly deploys these references—including some to Fleabag, Ozark, celebrities using Cameo, and Noah Centineo’s dick pic scandal —to underscore just how plugged into these cultural trends its characters are while trying desperately to fit in. But as Cary and especially Brooke become insiders, they realize that being on a higher rung on the social ladder comes with its own problems. The siblings adjust their goals and find moments of public relevance, and the characters finally start to evolve. Their bond has always been front and center, even as The Other Two puts them in amusing situations; the surprisingly tender dynamic helps anchor the absurdity. As onscreen siblings, Tarver and Yorke share an easy sibling chemistry, but the addition of Shannon further livens up their scenes. The show’s other Saturday Night Live alum demonstrates her skill and range in the transition from her recent performance as a one-percenter on HBO’s The White Lotus to The Other Two’s kindhearted maternal figure. Pat’s daytime show is a hotspot for snarky hilarity, as she has a knack for inviting regular citizens whom she believes are her favorite personalities like Mandy Moore or Mayim Bialik, and there’s a great recurring gag about interacting with hardcore fans.
The Other Two’s takes on industry events are just as biting as its interpersonal relationships. Brooke’s roller-coaster connection with dopey ex-boyfriend Lance (Arrow and Orange Is The New Black’s Josh Segarra, who’s perfectly cast) is an excellent opportunity to display her growth even when she doles out zingers without losing a beat. Cary finds himself with a new and overly loving boyfriend named Jess (Gideon Glick), a journalist who, in the show, was recently hired by The A.V. Club—yes, the very same—to do The West Wing recaps. The second season balances the two siblings’ moments of genuine sentimentality with off-kilter humor, as they grapple with professional opportunities. Regardless of how successful Brooke and Cary are in these new endeavors, The Other Two season two is a resounding win for Kelly and Schneider.