Thursday, September 16 2021

The two others finally returns with his second season, more than two years since his first season created on Comedy Central. After all this time and a move to HBO Max, has this satirical take on show business retained its sharpness and relevance?

It absolutely is.

Season 2 of The two others, created by the old Saturday Night Live chief writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, remains as funny and edgy as ever, even uplifting what made Season 1 work so well. Much like its first season, it explores the effects of fame on the central Dubek family, with hilarious (and at times devastating) results.

Things have changed for the Dubeks: Chase (Case Walker), formerly known as ChaseDreams, has chosen to step back from his life as a pop superstar and go to college. As Chase leaves center stage, his mother Pat (Molly Shannon) invests heavily in it. Now a daytime talk show host with bubbly taglines like “give yourself a pat on the back,” Pat is a beloved name.

Despite Chase and Pat’s great breakthroughs in show business, older siblings Dubek Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Heléne Yorke) still hover on the edges of the entertainment industry. Cary has found some success as the host of entertainment news shows like Age, net worth, feet, but his real passion is to act. Meanwhile, Brooke tries to find and manage the next ChaseDreams, with little success. As it turns out, commenting “Move to NYC, I’ll represent you” on an aspiring singer’s TikTok isn’t the best way to attract a client.

The other two might be a satirical powerhouse, but at its core it’s a story about the Dubeks, who manage to be lovable, messy, and infuriating all at the same time.

Cary and Brooke may not have figured out their lives yet, but Kelly and Schneider know exactly what kind of show they want to do and deliver it in spades. Satire is always sharp and, impressively, pop culture centric jokes never feel out of fashion. The two others Pulls a lot of comedic material from Cary’s various hosting gigs and Pat’s talk show segments, but there’s a manic fun that comes from the hyper-specific name that drops throughout the season. Apparently everyone and everything from Laura Dern to the 2010 film Beginners at Bachelor Nation, get a scream. Even in times when a joke borders on the niche too much, it’s hard not to laugh thanks to the engagement of the actors.

While The two others leans heavily towards comedy, it always sticks to the landing when it enters dramatic territory. The first season didn’t shy away from the darker aspects of stardom, but this season turns the entertainment industry into a real dystopia. From a cult-like celebrity church to managers who work themselves sick (Wanda Sykes’ Shuli jokes that she has had pneumonia for 20 years), The two others is set in a landscape as insidious as it is outrageously funny.

Nowhere is this more evident than with Pat. As a celebrity whose brand revolves around being down-to-earth, every aspect of her life – from what she eats to who her date will be at a wedding – is treated like a commodity whose audience can benefit. Shannon does a great job this season, balancing Pat’s genuine enthusiasm for her show with her nerves gradually unraveling. You’ll find yourself wincing just as much, laughing every time she’s on screen.

The two others can be a satirical powerhouse, but basically it’s a story about the Dubeks, who manage to be adorable, messy and infuriating at the same time. As entry points into this family, Tarver and Yorke nail down every beat, whether it’s dramatic or comedic. They make sure we feel for Cary and Brooke through their ups and downs, accomplishments and mistakes. After two years of absence, it’s a treat to see this duo in action again, just as much as it’s a treat to watch this new season. Give yourself a pat on the back, The two others. You deserved it.

Season 2 of The two others starts airing August 26 on HBO Max, with new episodes every Thursday. Season 1 is also currently airing on the service, for those who need to catch up.


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