Film & TV

HBO Max’s ‘The Other Two’ is the Peak of Peak TV

Greg Endries | HBO Max

The streaming era of television has led to an avalanche of shows covering the most minute topics which fill the tiniest niches — with “The Other Two,” peak TV has peaked.

Created by former “Saturday Night Live” head writers Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly, “The Other Two” follows Cary and Brooke Dubek (Drew Tarver and Helene Yorke) as they navigate life after their 13-year old brother Chase (Case Walker) becomes an overnight pop sensation. 

Adopting the stage name ChaseDreams, he moves to New York City — where Cary and Brooke live — and takes on manager Streeter Peters (Ken Marino).

Upping the ante is their mother, Pat (Molly Shannon), who rises out of the ashes of her dead husband to become an icon to moms everywhere with her own talk show “The Pat Dubek Show.” In the world of “The Other Two,” Pat’s show is in the same fame echelon as the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And unlike Rachael Ray, Pat greets her fans. 

Greg Endries | HBO Max Molly Shannon stars as Pat Dubek, a suburban mom-turned-talk show-host in “The Other Two.”

Cary, an aspiring actor, and Brooke, an aspiring aspirer, attempt to use their family’s newfound fame as a jumping board. While they often stumble and sprain an ankle, the siblings take viewers on captivating journeys of self-discovery.

The HBO Max original — which aired its debut season on Comedy Central in 2019 — wrapped its second season Sept. 23 and was renewed for a third the following day. After a phenomenal first season, the show soared even further with longer runtimes and a more defined cast dynamic.

“The Other Two” asks the question: what if every random pop culture moment could be interspersed in an unrelated television narrative? 

From Debra Messing sending Chase flowers with an offer to collaborate to Cary landing a role in the film “Night Nurse” — which is canceled due to lack of funding but later revived after a photo of Cary’s butthole makes the rounds and leads to Busy Phillips tweeting against homophobia —  “The Other Two” slices into the cultural zeitgeist with an exceedingly sharp knife.

Courtesy of HBO Max “The Other Two” has aired two seasons, with a third in pre-production.

Through two seasons and 20 episodes, “The Other Two” runs through enough plot for seven seasons, a movie franchise and a direct-to-DVD spinoff. The breakneck pacing exceeds even “30 Rock” as the show flies without the restraints of broadcast television. 

“The Other Two” does gay Twitter humor in fine form, opting out of low-hanging fruit and truly appealing to the highest common denominator.

Every side character builds a world of chaotic genius. No line is a throwaway and each is packed with impressive exposition. If there were a drinking game for the number of jokes in one episode, viewers would drop dead — even if the drink was just water.

In a season one episode, Cary wants to audition for a Ryan Murphy show but learns the casting team automatically rejects actors with less than 50,000 Instagram followers. He joins a group of Instagays™ in an attempt to make it into one of their meticulously timed selfies to gain followers.

Cameron Colby, head of the Instagays and an avid onesie wearer, doesn’t disappear into the void of forgotten characters. He reappears in season two as a rebranded HGTV gay who has a matching-flannel-wearing husband. Later, divorced after his TV pilot wasn’t picked up, he delivers the news to Cary that Julianne Moore tweeted in support of his butthole.

Greg Endries | HBO Max Helene Yorke and Drew Tarver star as sibling duo Brooke and Cary, the titular “other two” Dubeks.

“The Other Two” exists in a world more fantastical than the dreariness of reality. Every episode is an unprovoked acid trip. Some rapid-fire episode descriptions include:

Brooke is invited as a guest panelist for a woman’s panel where she flubs every moment. When she forgets the name of an audience member and is put on blast, the rest of the panel rally in favor of Brooke, in a show of feminism that argues: all women deserve equity, but some women can suck.

“The Pat Dubek Show” does a recurring segment where homophobic fathers come to accept their sons, which a gay age-gap couple use to their roleplaying advantage. After, Cary and his boyfriend decide to show the couple around New York City in an attempt to teach the alleged Kansans about gay life, blissfully unaware the couple is actively courting a third on Grindr.

Cary is asked out by Dean Brennan, an actor with a notoriously ambiguous sexuality because “he likes to keep his private life private” despite having paparazzi follow him everywhere. Dean’s plot is foiled when his ex, Jordana Brewster (“The Fast and the Furious,” “Fast & Furious”), reveals he’s a straight gay-baiter using Cary’s rising star as a cloak for fame.

An AI bot randomizer couldn’t formulate most of the show’s outlandish plotlines — “The Other Two” is a saga of comedic what-ifs. And a robot wouldn’t have the emotional intelligence to include deeply specific “Real Housewives” references within each episode. 

All episodes of “The Other Two” are streaming now on HBO Max.

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