Most of us have to had to live in the shadow of a sibling who outshined us, who made our lives by comparison look unimpressive and disappointing. The new Comedy Central series “The Other Two” explores those anxieties to great effect.
Created by former “Saturday Night Live” co-head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, the series follows a pair of 20-something siblings whose shortcomings as adults are brought into focus when their 13-year-old brother Chase becomes a YouTube celebrity.
Drew Tarver plays Carey, a fledgling actor who can’t seem to get a break. In his late 20s, he’s beginning to wonder if he’s not destined for anything greater than getting a call-back for a commercial role where he plays “guy who smells fart at party.”
Meanwhile, his sister Brooke, played by Heléne Yorke, is a former professional dancer, who now aimlessly floats from job to job and couch to couch as she struggles to make ends meet.
Both siblings are also adrift in their love lives. Carey pines for his straight but maybe gay roommate, while Brooke attempts to make a clean break from her hambone ex-boyfriend.
While both Tarver and Yorke use subtle melancholy to humanize their characters, there is no shortage of laughs either. This is a joke-dense show, but the humor is more low key than laugh out loud, mostly coming in how Cary and Brooke engage with the various other people in their lives.
When Chase’s goof of a video goes viral, the siblings are pulled into a surreal and off-putting orbit of their brother’s new reality full of incompetent and predatory hangers on. Even their sweet mother Pat — played with goofy guilelessness by Molly Shannon — is transformed into a naive teen-celeb mom, who’s easily bamboozled by those looking to exploit Chase, now called ChaseDreams, for their own gain.
One of such hangers on is Chase’s manager, Streeter. More of a bumbling idiot than a bad guy, the character is cartoonishly stupid in a way that almost feels out of sync with the show around it. Luckily, it’s saved by the great Ken Marino (“Party Down”), whose terrific line delivery adds a silly layer of sad self-awareness. You get the sense that Streeter knows how out of his depth he is.
As Chase’s viral fame continues to expand into Justin Bieber territory, both Carey and Brooke decide to stick around. Their motivations are both self-serving and altruistic. Being status-obsessed 20-somethings with their own aspirations of fame, they see an advantage in drafting on their brother’s celebrity. Their opportunity to walk the red carpet at a movie premier turns into a cringe-worthy farce when they show up overdressed and find the afterparty overrun with teenage titans of industry whose accomplishments only amplify Carey and Brooke’s disappointment and self-pity.
However, with more sharks circling every day, they feel responsible to look out for Chase. With their mother too starstruck to make good decisions, Brooke steps in to serve as Chase’s assistant, landing herself a paying job, but more importantly, putting a barrier between her brother and those who might take advantage of him.
The conceit of the series is a novel way into what is very much a satire on fame and the entertainment industry. TV has had a lot of those over the years, but “The Other Two” find fresh, fertile ground for humor at the intersection of social media and celebrity, and how that phenomenon can impact the surrounding family.
There is a version of this show that could be nasty and cynical; however, Kelly and Schneider resist that urge. Instead, they have chosen to give it a warm heart by creating likable, flawed, human characters.
But while the overall result is enjoyable, the show isn’t quite there yet. Fortunately, it has potential. Given time to develop its characters and flesh out its weird universe, it could, indeed, be the great, funny show these early episodes have been hinting at.