I’ve been eagerly awaiting the return of “The Other Two,” the opus on fame-adjacency whose enjoyable first season aired 2½ years ago. Created by former “Saturday Night Live” writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, it’s about two siblings whose younger brother becomes a successful pop star named ChaseDreams (yes, one word) in the manner of Justin Bieber. That leaves Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary (Drew Tarver) hoping, but failing, to use his clout to help their careers in New York as a music manager and actor, respectively.
The second season has finally arrived — the show has jumped from Comedy Central over to HBO Max — and it’s even better than the first. The scripts are sharper and more focused — I’ve seen six of the 10 new episodes — and there’s more of Molly Shannon as their mother, which is a good thing. There’s also more character development, as we go further into the individual struggles of Brooke and Cary.
Oh, the pair still moan about their own careers, snarking together with tons of super specific pop references not unlike Julie and Billy of “Difficult People.” But we see even more of their individual efforts to break through, as Brooke scrolls through TikTok looking for teen clients and Cary — who now has a too-committed boyfriend — decides he must learn to write vehicles for himself. We also see them begin to grow, but shhh; that word is out of place in the context of the show’s spiky wit.
Shannon’s Pat isn’t just a doting mother this season. She has become a daytime talk show phenomenon, a variation on Ellen DeGeneres, leaving her two older children even more out of the mix and fame-adjacent than ever. They are so close, and yet so far. Since the entire family is now working in the entertainment business, though, the writers have more chances to take down the industry, with all its absurdities and excesses. One of my favorite gags this season — one that I find so very perfect — is about an event that will reveal “the newest Hadid.” Wanda Sykes returns as Chase’s label executive, and she drives the Hadid bit home and beyond.
HBO is releasing two episodes per week across five consecutive Thursdays.