Comedy Central has to be hungry for a win. Back in 2014, Broad City debuted to rave reviews with other popular network hits like Inside Amy Schumer, Workaholics, and Key & Peele running strong. Betting big on the cable original programming boom, Comedy Central appeared to be adding killer content to its library from some of the comedy world’s premiere talent, landing with critics and audiences alike. However, the well seemingly dried up out of nowhere. Broad City is ending this year and many of their high-profile series, not just the before-mentioned but others including Nathan For You, Review, and Detroiters, have met their end either on their own accord or due to dwindling interest. Of their current programming, only four shows (two being late night programs) have debuted since 2015 that still remain on the air, and it’s not the result of a lack of trying.
The Other Two, Comedy Central’s latest attempt to bolster its network with some new live-action comedy blood comes from the minds of former Saturday Night Live head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, and fortunately for the network, it looks like it may have the legs to stick around. Starring Drew Tarver (Seeso’s Bajillion Dollar Propertie$) and Heléne Yorke (Masters of Sex, The Good Fight), The Other Two centers on Cary and Brooke, the hapless older siblings of a YouTube-spawned popstar tween. You’d be forgiven if you initially think that the New York duo of Cary, a struggling actor, and Brooke, a former dancer, resemble the bitter, biting pair from Hulu’s Difficult People, but where that show went for vicious putdowns, The Other Two aims for jaded, yet sweet sincerity.
Not that Cary and Brooke aren’t bitter; they spend a lot of The Other Two dumbfounded and disillusioned by their brother’s sudden viral success. It’s just that one of the show’s core strengths is that the duo never loses sight of their love for their half-witted, yet well-meaning brother, who goes by the name ChaseDreams (Case Walker). Creators Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider are said to have been inspired by the hellish week leading up to a teenaged and very rude Justin Bieber appearing on SNL, but instead of making the Bieber-inspired character an insufferable brat, ChaseDreams remains pleasant and likable, complicating Cary and Brooke’s resentment. Hating your brother for being famous is easy if he’s a little shit, it can be more difficult if you genuinely love and are worried about him.
Ultimately, Cary and Brooke are interested in protecting Chase from the showbiz horrors that many child stars are subjected to, with Cary knowing Hollywood’s dark side all too well, being a gay actor in an industry that’s still unfriendly to those that identify as such. Besides being an unexpectedly touching family comedy, The Other Two is a scathing showbusiness satire. However, along with taking the usual shots at the industry, The Other Two is the first major cable comedy that I can think of that looks to lampoon the YouTube celebrity culture and Generation Z as well. When Chase makes a song celebrating his brother’s gay lifestyle, it’s a way to examine how 15 minutes of fame becomes 15 seconds of fame in our new digital age and how traditional celebrity and internet celebrity feel like completely separate, alien worlds. Cary and Brooke, though still technically “young,” are totally perplexed and alienated by the world of TikTok, the floss dance, and other signifiers of new “youth” culture.
Though the main characters are three-dimensional, there’s still plenty of whacky supporting players in the mix, like Ken Marino as Chase’s wannabe hot-shot manager, and Molly Shannon as the siblings’ painfully Midwestern mom, Pat. But even these characters are allowed to become less cartoonish as the series goes on. Along with a hefty dose of character development, The Other Two affords plenty of time to raucous sex and drug humor, is one of the best cringe comedies since Michael Scott was in charge of Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch, and features some of the most esoteric pop culture references in recent memory. But don’t worry, The Other Two is a joke machine, so if one goes over your head, there’s another coming in quick to sock you on the chin.
With a lightly serialized focus and unique sweetened cynicism, The Other Two is poised to be the heir to Broad City as Comedy Central’s flagship series. By keeping its family unit connected, yet painfully realistic, The Other Two takes an unexpected angle at the jealous sibling story and provides enough sharp cultural commentary and laugh-out loud jokes to sustain its 10-episode first season. Let’s hope Comedy Central can find another two series as good.
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.