Brooke Dubek (Heléne Yorke) wasn't exactly the most promising character in the pilot episode of The Other Two. Presented as the trainwreck woman that’s been prevalent in pop culture since, well, Amy Schumer's Trainwreck, Brooke was a worrying sign that Comedy Central’s new series was content to rest on a stereotype. Brooke was living in rentals she was supposed to be leasing, sleeping with a pilot in his motel near the airport, and taking only sporadic care of her hygiene. She was a mess, and a cliché.
Compared to everything else in the series, from Drew Tarver’s charming-but-unlucky gay actor Cary, to sudden viral sensation “ChaseDreams” (Case Walker), to the siblings’ eccentric mom-turned-momager (Molly Shannon), Brooke couldn’t help but feel a step behind the curve. There were flickers of hope in the first couple of episodes — moments where Brooke appeared surprisingly wise, or revealed a kind of moral compass were -- but they were mostly overshadowed by jokes about her stealing from Starbucks and other bad behavior.
Then The Other Two revealed its master plan, and Brooke quickly become the ensemble’s most competent member. Taking on a gig as Chase’s assistant gave her opportunity after opportunity to save the day. No longer the disaster, Brooke solved the disasters in both of her brothers’ lives. And Yorke, a veteran stage performer, sold the transformation with such authenticity, I was instantly taken from Brooke skeptic to Brooke champion.
It was the fifth episode of the first season, “Chase Goes to a High School Dance,” that featured Brooke’s most prominent adjustment. A viral stunt sent Chase to a high school dance on a date, but he soon revealed that the event meant way more to him than that. See, he’d never been to a dance, nor would he likely ever get to go to one of his own, due to the fact that he graduated high school via phone app. This news infuriated Brooke, who put her foot down with Chase’s manager, Streeter (Ken Marino). She insisted on Chase’s right to a childhood, and took control of his schedule to make sure he could stay and have this seminal school experience.
What worked best about this story is that it didn’t require Brooke’s character to change at all. She’s still impulsive and a little selfish. But Yorke makes Brooke’s flaws her strengths, using that impulsiveness and self-interest on Chase’s behalf. She does the same thing when she pushes Cary to use Chase’s fame to advance himself — a plan that goes a bit awry in the back half of the season, but is nonetheless rooted in Brooke trying to help her brother. She’s not suddenly a wise sage, but she’s active in trying to make her siblings’ lives better.
By season's end, Yorke’s Brooke was the star of the show. BWhether she was reconnecting with her old flame, Lance (the perfect Josh Segarra) or spouting off instantly quotable lines like “In this climate?, she became the preeminent reason to look forward to another episode of The Other Two.
The Best Lead Actress in a Comedy category at the Emmys is stacked with terrific talent, and will almost certainly be won one final time by Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Veep. But as Louis-Dreyfus says goodbye to Selina Meyer, voters would be hard-pressed to find a more magnetic, appealing performer than Yorke.
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Kevin O'Keeffe is a writer, host, and RuPaul's Drag Race herstorian living in Los Angeles.
TOPICS: Comedy Central, 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, The Other Two, Helene Yorke