Type keyword(s) to search


The Other Two Emerges From Lockdown Weirder and Wilder Than Before

Season 3 takes a turn for the surreal as Cary and Brooke seek fulfillment in an undignified industry.
  • Brandon Scott Jones, Drew Tarver, Molly Shannon, Helena Yorke, Josh Segarra (photo: Greg Endries/HBO Max)
    Brandon Scott Jones, Drew Tarver, Molly Shannon, Helena Yorke, Josh Segarra (photo: Greg Endries/HBO Max)

    It's been two years since we were last graced with new episodes of The Other Two, but in the show's universe it's been even longer. When the Season 2 finale aired in September of 2021, Cary Dubek (Drew Tarver) had finally gotten his big Hollywood break with a coveted role in the indie drama Night Nurse, which was set to begin shooting on March 13, 2020.

    That gut punch of a final gag left the show on the precipice of the COVID pandemic, but if you were worried that Season 3 would pick up where the show left off and plunge into its lockdown season, fear not. In fast-forwarding to the present day, The Other Two emerges — like many did after lockdown, frankly — wilder, woolier, and weirder than before. It's an evolution that requires some adjustment from the viewer, but opens the show up to creative risks that really pay off.

    For reasons both artistic and logistical (i.e., Case Walker is now eight feet tall and a full 20-year-old who can no longer believably play Chase Dubek as a young teenager), the series resumes in 2023 with the debut of The Night Nursefinally back on track after years of COVID delays and production shutdowns. True to form, Cary's big moment ends up a good deal shabbier than he'd dreamed (goodbye theatrical premiere, hello streaming). Still, he's in a movie, having achieved a stratum of success and low-grade fame he's been striving for. Now he needs to capitalize on it.

    However, in The Other Two's lovingly bruised take on the entertainment industry, indignity lurks behind every promise of success. So Cary's Night Nurse triumph also leads him to become momentarily unbearable about it on social media. His determination to find his next big role then becomes a hell of self-taped auditions.

    Cary's counterpart in entertainment-industry striving is his sister Brooke (Heléne Yorke), who is going through an existential crisis when it comes to self-worth and her job as a talent manager. She’s good at the gig, but she’s distressed that so many people around her responded to the pandemic by doing something more fulfilling. Chief among them is her boyfriend Lance (Josh Segarra, Hollywood's greatest on-screen himbo), who pivoted from fashion design to nursing. Now, Brooke feels implicitly judged by everybody's newfound goodness while she manages a Chase Dreams armpit photo shoot and approves programming for her mother’s new Oprah-esque TV network

    Yes, after burning out as a talk-show host last season, Pat (Molly Shannon) is now a brand empire unto herself, worth nearly a billion dollars and living in a mansion accessible only by helicopter. Pat handles obscene wealth with the same sanguine attitude she's always had — "It really is so convenient to be powerful" — but she also finds herself suffocated by her security detail and her inability to enjoy the world as a regular person.

    “Rich lady isolated and lonely by her richness” isn't breaking any new ground, thematically, and Pat's extreme wealth raises more questions than it answers if you bother to pull at the thread (why is Cary not nepo-babying his way to his next big break?). That said, pulling at logic threads is probably not the best way to enjoy The Other Two's third season, not with the show taking such a purposeful turn toward the surreal.

    While the first two seasons featured a heightened and silly take on fame and "the industry" (that shadowy Jordana Brewster cameo!), these episodes frequently and enthusiastically shake off the bonds of reality. The season premiere features a runner in which multiple characters spontaneously sprout vampire fangs when prompted with Chase Dreams' impending 18th birthday. Cary embarks upon a whimsical journey to Brooklyn for a brand endorsement opportunity, then ends up in a relationship with someone who very intentionally seems like a character imported from another kind of TV show altogether. Brooke's anxieties about possibly leaving the industry behind have her feeling invisible, both figuratively and… not.

    In terms of tone, The Other Two veers closer to the way Broad City would let the surreal bubble up around its characters, as opposed to an Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt level of constant lunacy. Still, it's jarring at first. You half-expect the first episode to end with Cary waking up to realize he's been dreaming or hallucinating all this time. But the more the tone settles in, the more the show's ventures into the fantastical pay off. The first five episodes feature not one but two extended parodies of '90s movies that are committed and confident enough to earn special dispensation for adding yet more '90s parody into the TV ecosystem.

    What's more, these detours into the absurd still don't take away from the essential groundedness of the show’s two most crucial characters. Cary's career striving and dating woes take him to some bizarre places, but they’re rooted in a character with genuine and relatable wants and desires. Brooke, meanwhile, remains the show's strongest emotional compass. As close as she gets to the precipice of becoming yet another tragically vapid Jenna Maroney clone, both the writing and Yorke's performance ground the character in foibles and frustrations that cut to the bone, with a core of decency that's always visible, if often just out of reach.

    The supporting cast is as strong as ever, anchored by Ken Marino, whose overbearing Streeter feels all the more spiritually aligned with Party Down's Ron Donald in the wake of that show's recent revival. Wanda Sykes is a more regular presence as Chase's career-shaper, Shuli, bringing her gift for making the most shameless aspects of Hollywood star-making sound matter-of-fact. Some old favorites are back again, including influencer nightmare Cameron Colby (Jimmy Fowlie) and Pitzi Pyle (Kate Berlant), who in the span of one scene delivers an entire episode of The Characters. And with both Segarra and Brandon Scott Jones (as Cary's best friend Curtis) bumped up to series regulars, the show provides Brooke and Cary with more consistent sounding boards and counterpoints to their industry-pilled tendencies.

    So while The Other Two has gotten significantly stranger, it hasn't lost sight of its best qualities. It's still frighteningly on the pulse of the most specific (some might say niche, but if you know, you know) industry trends, from gay guys being into Australian Survivor now to the cultural demands of multi-part queer Broadway shows. And it's still about the hopes, dreams, and doubts of its characters as they volunteer themselves again and again for the undignified churn of the entertainment industry. That churn opens the door for some serious weirdness, and The Other Two walks right in.

    The Other Two premieres its third season on May 4 on HBO Max, with new episodes dropping every Thursday. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: The Other Two, HBO Max, Brandon Scott Jones, Case Walker, Drew Tarver, Helene Yorke, Josh Segarra, Ken Marino, Molly Shannon, Wanda Sykes