Living in the shadow of a younger brother is not ideal. But when does this younger sibling become a teenage pop sensation? Now that’s the stuff of nightmares.
That’s the concept behind HBO Max’s “The Other Two,” created by former “Saturday Night Live” editors Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly. In the series, millennials Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary Dubek (Drew Tarver) grapple with the sudden fame of their 13-year-old brother, Chase (Case Walker), whose adorable first song, “Marry U at Recess “, led to a huge success.
As the show’s title suggests, “The Other Two” revolves around Brooke, a former competitive dancer with lackluster career prospects, and Cary, a struggling actor, as the two older siblings trying to make a name for themselves in New York. While the premise of the series magnifies the infuriating concept of being upstaged by a much younger sibling, what’s refreshing about “The Other Two” is that there’s never a genuine sense of jealousy or of animosity. Brooke and Cary are really supportive of Chase — and supportive of each other. Plus, what starts out as a harmless attempt to ride Chase’s ponytails turns into a beautiful process of self-discovery for the older brothers.
When we first meet Brooke, she is working as a realtor and squatting unsold apartments. When she takes on the humiliating role of Chase’s assistant, she realizes she would make a good manager. At the end of Season 2, a running joke about wanting to portray Alessia Cara turns into a fruitful chance meeting with the “Scars to Your Beautiful” singer in a hotel sauna.
When we first meet Cary, he is auditioning for a role in a commercial called Man at Party Who Smells Fart. He quickly graduated to host internet shows such as “The Gay Minute” and “Age Net Worth Feet,” and eventually landed a role in a major movie. But Cary’s most interesting story concerns his sexuality. At the start of Season 1, his most intimate relationship is with his muscular roommate who insists he’s straight. In Season 2, Cary gets serious with her first boyfriend, Jess (Gideon Glick), but as someone who came out of the closet later in life, he begins to lament all those fun years he missed before. to settle down. He encounters a gaggle of Instagays and a hilarious and mortifying story about a “hole pic” that traces back to him and goes viral. This marks a surprisingly healthy turn (pun intended) for Cary, who learns to relax in a gay bar as he reaches new levels of stardom.
The series is greatly enhanced by supporting players Ken Marino, Wanda Sykes, and Molly Shannon, who plays Dubek matriarch Pat. In Season 2, Brooke and Cary are once again relegated to “The Other Two” as their mother also becomes a celebrity, hosting a daytime talk show.
The first 19 episode titles begin with “Chase” or “Pat” – a nod to the show’s name – making the season 2 finale, “Brooke & Cary Go to a Fashion Show”, all the more gratifying. Brooke and Cary come into their own, and not at the expense of their popstar brother and Ellen-esque mother.
While “The Other Two” is far from the first show to satirize the entertainment industry, its commentary on modern phenomena keeps the series bold and current. In one episode, Brooke poses as a Real Housewife in an effort to take photos on the red carpet, which Cary later photographs with a Getty Images watermark. In another, Brooke desperately campaigns for Variety‘s “30 Under 30” at 31. (For the record, our roundup of rising innovators in Hollywood is called New Leaders.)
While Brooke proudly states early on, “We have to live every day like it’s the last day Chase is famous,” the show generally eschews the kind of cynicism one would expect. After all, what keeps “The Other Two” grounded is the universality of chasing dreams, no matter how willing we are to compromise them.