Entertainment

TV: Comedy Central’s ‘The Other Two’ is 2019′s first great new show

Hunter Ingram More Content Now
Posted: Jan. 18, 2019 12:32 pm Updated: Jan. 18, 2019 12:43 pm

Poking fun at the absurdity of the fame machine that churns out “celebrities” from viral YouTube videos and social media prowess isn’t what it used to be.

Gone are the days when the Justin Biebers of Hollywood were easy targets because, frankly, they’ve been satirized time and time again.

Fortunately, Comedy Central’s new series “The Other Two” takes a different, incredibly effective approach with a more timely focus on the rippling effects of instant fame.

Premiering 10:30 p.m. Jan. 24, the show follows two adult siblings, aspiring actor Cary (Drew Tarver) and aimless former dancer Brooke (Heléne Yorke), as they come to terms with the snowballing success of their 13-year-old brother Chase (Case Walker), who’s been plucked out of Ohio obscurity after his YouTube music video “I Wanna Marry U at Recess” goes viral.

Now taking a backseat to “The Next Big White Kid,” as he’s been dubbed, Cary and Brooke are left to process both a genuine confusion as to the preposterous nature of what’s happening and stave off the simultaneous twinge of envy at how easily he stumbled into stardom.

Created by Kelly and Sarah Schneider, former head writers of “Saturday Night Live” and scribes on “Broad City,” “The Other Two” is the year’s first legitimately great new show, aptly blending a genuinely hilarious indictment of modern fame with the surprisingly resonate and tender moments of a smart family comedy.

Along for the ride is their just-excited-to-be-here mom, played by the wonderfully endearing Molly Shannon, who teams again with Kelly after a stunning performance in his directorial debut “Other People.” Although well-meaning, she too sees Chase’s success as a means to live out her “Year of Yes.”

Tarver and Yorke have a naturally engaging chemistry as the kind of siblings who get each other, even if the rest of the world doesn’t. They forgive each other’s flaws, even if they still judge the other; they are brutally honest when it’s needed; and yet, they are still two distinct people who react differently to Chase’s fame.

Tarver brings a charming sincerity and deadpan voice to Cary, a gay actor struggling to get parts beyond humiliating commercials. The career stalemate is made all the more frustrating by his confusing love life of occasional hookups with his totally straight roommate and an inability to find common ground with the Instagays that our social media-drenched society tells him will bolster his credentials and land more parts.

Brooke, meanwhile, has decided to finally find out what she wants to do with her life, a narcissistic mission she attaches to Chase’s rising star and one that Yorke mines for some truly great comedic moments.

They are what helps “The Other Two” avoid the pitfalls of the well-worn pop culture satire. Kelly and Schneider aim to skewer the Hollywood star system, pricking the pop culture bubble with such sharp, witty barbs it’s hard to recognize just how scathing they are before they are onto the next. But they’re also interested in telling an endearingly human story about how people within that orbit cope with being feet from fame.

For all the faults and opportunistic antics they prescribe them, Kelly and Schneider wisely ground Cary and Brooke by making sure they - more so than anyone else in his life - never forget that Chase is a kid. He’s being subjected to the kind of undiluted fame and attention that “E! True Hollywood Stories” used to point to as the moment when it all went wrong for child stars.

Skirting maturity in their own lives just to muster it in caring for their kid brother balances out their wayward paths. They are lost, but they aren’t lost causes.

We are all Cary and Brooke dismissing instant fame while also being jealous of how good some people have it.

It’s a cruel cycle we subject ourselves to every day by logging onto social media and tuning into reality shows, but it’s a reality made just a bit more bearable when you can laugh at it.

Luckily, “The Other Two” is never short on those.
Hunter Ingram can be reached at Hunter.Ingram@StarNewsOnline.com. Hunter is a member of the Television Critics Association.

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