Living in the shadow of your younger brother is not ideal. But with that younger brother of teen pop sensation? Now the material for them.
Such is the concept of HBO Max’s “The Other Two,” from former “Saturday Night Live” head writers Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly. In the series, millennials Brooke (Helene Yorke) and Cary Dubek (Drew Tarver) are shocked by the sudden fame of their 13-year-old brother, Chase (Case Walker), whose adorable debut song is “Mary U in Recess.” led to an enormous victory.
As the show’s title suggests, “The Other Two” centers around Brooke, a once-competitive dancer with a troubled career, and Cary, a struggling actor, as two older siblings try to make names for themselves in New York City. While the premise magnifies the infuriating concept of outshining its much younger sibling, what’s refreshing about “The Other Ones” is that there’s never a real sense of jealousy or animosity. Brooke and Cary Chase – and they are really supportive of each other. Furthermore, what begins as an innocent attempt to ride Chase’s coat turns into a beautiful process of self-discovery for older adults.
When we first meet Brooke, he is working as a real estate agent squatting in empty apartments. When he takes on the humiliating role of Chase’s assistant, he realizes that he will make a good manager. At the end of Season 2, a running joke about wanting to represent Alessia Cara turns into a fruitful chance encounter with the “Caricebus Pura Tua” singer in a hotel sauna.
When we first meet Cary, he is auditioning for a part in a commercial called The Man at the Party Who Smells Fart. He soon graduated to internet-hosted shows such as “Gay Minute” and “Age Net Worth Feet”, and finally landed a role in a major movie. But Cary’s more interesting story arc has to do with his sexuality. At the beginning of season 1, he has a very close relationship with a roommate who insists he is straight. In Season 2, Cary gets serious with her first boyfriend Jess (Gideon Glick), but like someone who comes out of the closet later in life, she begins to regret all those fun years she left behind. Grex stumbles upon the Insagays and hilariously tells a mortifying story about a “pickle hole” that brings him back and goes viral. It turns out to be surprisingly beneficial (pun intended) for Cary, who learns to loosen up on the ropes as he reaches new levels of celebrity.
The series is largely enhanced by supporting actors Ken Marino, Wanda Sykes and Molly Shannon, who plays Dubek’s matriarch, Pat. In Season 2, Brooke and Cary are once again relegated to “The Other Two” as their mother, too, becomes a celebrity, hosting a daytime talk show.
The first 19 episodes begin with the title “Chase” or “Pat” — a nod to the name of the show — which makes the season 2 finale, “Brooke & Cary Go to the Fashion Show,” all the more popular. Brooke and Cary are coming into their own, and not at the expense of their popstar brother and Ellen-esque mom.
While “The Other Two” is far from the first show to satiate the entertainment industry, its commentary on modern phenomena keeps the series weird and current. In one episode, Brooke impersonates a Real Housewife in an attempt to take photos of the redhead, who Cary later designs photos with Getty Images. In another, Brooke is desperate for money Variety30 Under 30 at age 31.
While Brooke proudly declares in the morning, “We have to live every day like it’s Chase’s last day,” the show avoids almost the kind of brutality one would expect from it. After all, what keeps “The Other Two” grounded is the universality of chasing dreams, no matter how we choose to arrange them.