There’s a pretty clever inversion at the heart of The Other Two’s second season. At the end of the first season, Chase Dubek (Case Walker), the show’s Justin Beiber stand-in who rose to superstardom as ChaseDreams, announced that he was quitting the music business just as mother Pat (Molly Shannon) landed an Ellen-style daytime talk show gig.
Season two is built more around Pat’s new stardom as her show skyrockets the Dubek clan into a new, different type of fame. Of course, given the show’s title, the focus remains primarily on Pat’s other two children – wannabe manager Brooke Dubek (Heléne Yorke) and struggling gay actor Cary Dubek (Drew Tarver). Even though the lives of both of the older Dubek siblings has improved in between seasons, the premise remains more or less the same: how do two less celebrated, less famous, but still mildly-narcissistic, fame hungry people struggle on the periphery of the limelight?
It will be a relief to fans of the show, which aired S1 on Comedy Central in 2019 before transitioning two and a half years later to a new home on HBO Max, that the show hasn’t suffered a creative slump or any significant personality changes during its hiatus. It’s just as silly and clever as ever, particularly in the moments when the wordplay and the satire turns The Other Two into a biting showbiz takedown (the fifth episode “Chase Gets Baptized”, in particular, scores points when it tackles homophobia and misogyny within a faddish celebrity religion in the form of ChristSong, complete with its own hot, shirtless, tattoo’d Pastor).
Shifting the celebrity focus onto Molly Shannon’s Pat is a wise decision that enables Brooke and Cary some incremental growth without losing sight of the fact that the siblings are still self-involved about their own fame. The Other Two smartly keeps the focus on Cary and Brooke, who spend most of the ten episodes (I’ve seen six) adjusting to their new small slice of wealth (for Brooke) and celebrity (for Cary).
Brooke spends most of the premiere trying to escape being tied to her family by finding new talent to manage. Naturally this involves randomly messaging pre-teens online and encouraging them to move to New York, tracking rising Tik Tok stars their homes in the suburbs, and recruiting promising talent at children’s birthday parties. Eventually Brooke caves and opts to represent Pat, which is a smarter comedic avenue for the series because it not only guarantees more Shannon, it provides Yorke more varied situations in which to showcase Brooke’s exasperation.
Brooke is actually really good at her new job, so the comedy comes from its ridiculous demands on her time and how badly mistreated managers are. In episode three, a never ending conference call strands Brooke outside of an exclusive no-phones Vogue party (the fete is celebrating the newest Hadid sister, whose features have finally “settled”) while in episode four “Pat Hosts Just Another Regular Show”, time-poor Brooke books a series of hot men on the show to audition their suitability for dating and/or sex.
Cary, meanwhile, is just as dependant on his mother and younger brother to remain relevant. As season two opens, he’s hosting a million interchangeable celebrity news segments (ranging from real-ish sounding ones such as ‘E!News Digital’ to plausible, but fictitious, ‘The Gay Minute by Advil’ to the absurd, ‘Age Net Worth Feet’, which exists to ask stars about those three specific characteristics). Although Brooke doesn’t believe it, Cary is flailing, wishing he was acting more and barely getting by financially (in episode 3 he resorts to filming Cameos for $18 a pop and seeks validation by crashing a recipient’s birthday party).
He’s also in a new relationship with Jess (Gideon Glick), a bland stay-at-home type who “likes sex” so long as it doesn’t conflict with their HBO schedule. In one of the funniest observational jokes of the new season, Jess drags Cary away for a romantic country weekend where they run into online celebrity Cameron Colby (Jimmy Fowlie). Cary’s acquaintance now lives a different kind of Insta-ready life: he flips houses in the country with his monogamous husband and posts inspirational home decor pictures under the handle @propertydaddies. It’s a spot-on critique of a certain breed of social media gays, building perfectly on Cameron’s S1 appearance in “Chase Gets A Nosebleed”; the gag winds up being one of the best callbacks in an episode that has already riffed on Brooke’s S1 tendency to sleep in the apartments she was showing.
The prominence of Pat! (the talk show) makes sense given that Case Walker has grown up a great deal in the last two years. As a result, Chase is slightly sidelined, which opens the door for more of Streeter Peters (Ken Marino), who continues to co-manage Pat and Chase alongside Brooke. Streeter’s desperation for relevancy as Brooke eclipses him professionally, especially in the eyes of Shuli Kucerac (Wanda Sykes), as well as his insistence on being an essential part of the Dubek clan, continues to amuse thanks to Marino’s elastic facial expressions and manic energy.
While Cary and Brooke are adjusting to their new situations, the show wrings plenty of chuckles out of Pat’s new fame. Now that Shannon is a series regular, there’s more Pat, though The Other Two primarily opts to use the character and her show to mock the antics of day time TV. One great (very mean) joke is that as a fifty year old host, her make-up takes five hours to apply and is administered by a carpenter.
Despite acting primarily as commentary, Pat does have an arc. As the show’s popularity skyrockets, Brooke keeps signing Pat up for more and more fan-service activities like meet and greets and contests. As the season progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that Pat is stretched thin (in episode six ‘Pat Becomes #1 In Daytime’, she keeps randomly popping up in Brooke and Cary’s adventures, but she is so busy she has no idea what’s going on in their lives). Her hectic schedule is clearly headed towards an inevitable catastrophe/break down before the season wraps, which should make for an interesting story line.
The Bottom Line: Despite a two year absence, The Other Two remains as clever and hilarious as ever. Featuring a deep bench of talented comedians and delicately acting as both a satire of celebrity and a comedy about family, The Other Two is absurd, witty and must-watch.
The Other Two airs two new episodes every Thursday starting Aug 26 on HBO Max