Although best known for long-running staples such as South Park and The Daily Show, or departed classics like Nathan For You, Chappelle’s Show and Key & Peele – Comedy Central has been quietly putting out some of the finest sitcoms on TV lately. Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson’s lively Broad City – currently in its final season – has become a millennial touchstone and bonafide cultural phenomenon. More recently, the earnestly goofy Detroiters, following the delightful misadventures of inept ad men, has grown into the best pure comedy on air.
Continuing their hot streak, the hilarious and heartfelt freshman season of The Other Two is proving to be the first great new comedy of 2019. Created by former SNL head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, this series begins with the meteoric rise of a 13-year-old who calls himself ChaseDreams. The cherubic Justin Bieber-type becomes an overnight teen pop sensation thank to his viral music video entitled “I Wanna Marry U At Recess”. That’s when we’re introduced to his hapless older siblings Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Heléne Yorke).
They are The Other Two, and they’re as befuddled by their little brother’s fame as we are. To make matters worse, both of them are failed creatives themselves. The 29-year-old Cary is a struggling actor happy to book commercial spots and rinky-dink plays. Meanwhile, 30-year-old Brooke is a directionless ex-dancer, whose only goal for the year is to “see 50 dicks”. They are hot messes, and naturally envious of ChaseDreams’ sudden success. The set-up for an acidic satire of resentment and showbiz is here, but this series is also so much more.
It would have been easy to make Chase an entitled jerk, whilst portraying Cary and Brooke as bitter millennial slackers who secretly mock the absurdity of Gen Z fame, but aren’t above using their brother’s status for their own benefit. That concept could have worked in an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia way. But The Other Two quickly reveals itself to be more sincere and less cynical than it’s premise lets on. These siblings genuinely care for one another, and they’re worried about a business that frequently chews up and spits out young stars like Chase.
That being said, this show loves to bare its teeth as much as it’s heart. The Other Two’s funniest moments take gleeful pleasure in making fun of everything from vapid red carpet interviews to the ridiculousness of Instagram celebrities. But these jokes are also carefully positioned to show that perhaps the only reason we enjoy mocking this lifestyle, is because we aren’t a part of it. And while Chase provides the humourous hook, the scripts are actually built around the small milestones and foibles of Cary and Brooke as they try to make something of themselves.
Sure, they suffer from delusions of grandeur (Cary boasts that he went to “the theater school where Patrick Wilson’s cousin went.”), and they’re more than a little misguided – but when faced with tough choices, they repeatedly show that they’re not bad people. In fact, their good-hearted support of Chase sometimes leads to them becoming exploited themselves. A particularly witty episode deals with Chase’s song about being proud of his gay brother. Within hours, the meme cycle turns Cary into an object of ridicule, then a gay icon, and then back to being ridiculed.
The Other Two is packed with hilarious asides about the artificiality of the media industry (“Shout out to our Lord Jesus Christ and Sony Pictures,” Chase says while live-streaming). But through it all, there’s a sweetness and vulnerability to every single one of these characters that fleshes them out beyond satirical caricatures. Laughs are mined from it’s spot-on cultural skewering and uproarious running gags, but it’s emotional core is what makes you root for them. The Other Two is an absolutely can’t-miss comedy that critiques, but is also forgiving of humanity.