HBO Max’s ‘the Other Two’ brings a dying comedy breed to life


Once upon a time, decades ago, my flatscreen TV very not stuck to channel 51 at all for at least an hour a day. In basic cable parlance, Channel 51 was Comedy Central, which was in the heyday of “Absolutely Fabulous” and “Kids in the Hall” reruns, supplemented by smaller upstart shows like “South Park” and “The Daily Show”.

Over the years since, Comedy Central has seen several rebranding and seen a few breakouts like “Key & Peele” and “Broad City,” but these days Trevor Noah seems to be the only thing keeping the network going. relevant (example, “Key & Peele’s translator Obama Anger’s sketch is always prominently displayed on their site).

It’s no surprise that the landscape of comedy has changed since the days when cathode rays ruled all around us. Dissecting the comedic aesthetic of each of this year’s Emmy nominees is pretty much the funniest thing anyone can do, so I’ll just explain why “The Other Two” isn’t like any of them. .

Helene Yorke and Drew Tarver play siblings Brooke and Cary in “The Other Two”.

Greg Endries / HBO Max

Written by a pair of “SNL” alumni, the first season of “The Other Two” debuted on Comedy Central before HBO took season two and called it Max Original. The title references Cary and Brooke Dubek, a pair of lazy twenties and siblings whose 13-year-old brother Chase suddenly finds fame thanks to a viral music video.

As Chase becomes the next Justin Bieber, Cary (Drew Tarver making a John Mulaney impression) and Brooke (Helene Yorke from “The Good Fight” and “Masters of Sex”) cling to his cock. Brooke begins to “manage” Chase’s career, along with her mother (Molly Shannon), who starts a daytime talk show. Cary, a struggling server slash actor, becomes an LGBTQ + poster after Chase released a single celebrating his brother’s sexuality.

Wanda Sykes and Ken Marino (“Party Down”) form the rest of Chase’s goofball management team, hosting mock celebrity romances, calling Code Red emergencies a sign of acne, and rotating his image from boy next door to the sex symbol in Hollywood Christian to make sure fans keep pushing that button. Sykes and Marino, as well as Shannon, are all completely off-leash and seem to revel in that freedom.

Wanda Sykes as Shuli Kucerac in "The two others."

Wanda Sykes as Shuli Kucerac in “The Other Two”.

Greg Endries / HBO Max

He received some major accolades from the Washington Post, which called him “The funniest show on television”, and Variety, who called it “A new standard for television comedy”, but I don’t think either of these titles is particularly precise. To me, it goes back to the old standard of TV comedy.

As much as I love the meta-zen schtick of comedy in “Hacks” and the exploitation of the intellectual property of “Cobra Kai”, “The Other Two” is a different beast. “Ted Lasso” shares some of the same old school DNA, but “The Other Two” is not concerned with teaching lessons. It brings me back to those afternoons stuck on Channel 51, when goofy situational comedies didn’t care about pesky concepts like ‘plot solving’ and scripts could just turn into a ‘stranger’ style farce with. Candy ”without the weight of a responsible building world. The scenes often play out like extended “SNL” skits (or the Comedy Central classic “Upright Citizens Brigade”), with the shifting winds of viral fame allowing the writers to erase the plot after each episode.

Drew Tarver and Molly Shannon as Cary and Pat Dubek in "The two others."

Drew Tarver and Molly Shannon as Cary and Pat Dubek in “The Other Two”.

Greg Endries / HBO Max

Of course, “The Other Two” does an admirable job of hooking up the industry’s vultures. It also captures the disappointment of pushing 30 with no career success. Her focus on LGBTQ + culture is fresh, and the crazed dysfunctional family dynamic gives flashbacks to “Arrested Development.”

These themes are all great, but basically the plot is all about the jokes. The show is primarily concerned with scoring lols, which makes it a rare Capitol C comedy at a time when so many other shows in the genre flirt with high-profile TV tropes. “The other two” isn’t trying to change your life – it just wants to make you laugh.

Case Walker as Chase Dubek in "The two others."

Case Walker as Chase Dubek in “The Other Two”.

Greg Endries / HBO Max

Helene Yorke and Drew Tarver play siblings Brooke and Cary in "The two others."

Helene Yorke and Drew Tarver play siblings Brooke and Cary in “The Other Two”.

Greg Endries / HBO Max

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