The Daily Stream: Laugh, Cry, And Cringe Along With The Other Two

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Series: "The Other Two"

Where You Can Stream It: HBO Max

The Pitch: "The Other Two" is a tale of two floundering millennials. Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke Dubek (Heléne Yorke) are typical 20-something siblings stumbling through the early days of adulthood. They're no different from the rest of us: unsure of their next steps and absently daydreaming about the better future that awaits them once success arrives. Except to make matters a million times worse, they have to live with the fact that their 13-year-old brother has become the next Justin Bieber. 

Seemingly out of nowhere, Chase Dubek (Case Walker) becomes an international superstar so famous and so ridiculously young that he doesn't even care. So we get to watch as the older Dubeks stand on the sidelines, caught between applauding with pride and seething with jealousy. Does this sound just a tad bit depressing? Allow me to clarify — "The Other Two" is a comedy, cutting, clever and absurdly self aware. Each episode comes tightly packed with hilarious commentary on everything celebrity and internet culture-related, including entertainment industry satire, thinly veiled caricatures of familiar celebrities, and an abundance of pop culture references.

Why It's Essential Viewing

Prepare to be roasted, because as far as "The Other Two" is concerned, nobody even remotely connected to internet culture is safe. Two seasons in and with a third on the way, this show seems determined to leave no ground unscorched. In retrospect, I should've seen this coming: The premise kicks into gear by hitting very close to home for those of us who grew up on the internet. In the opening episode, we meet ChaseDreams (Case Walker), AKA the 13-year old that "some in the music industry are already calling the next big white kid." Instantly a YouTube pop sensation, Chase launches his career with a music video entitled "Marry U At Recess" featuring deep and meaningful lyrics like:

Girl, since the age of 10

I knew that I would spend

My whole life with you

Cause girl you're the cutest girl

In the entire world

And I would die for you

The music video will give you a great sense of what this series has in store, and very quickly sent me flashing back to my own tween YouTube days with a terrifying shudder. But that's just the start. In a matter of episodes, "The Other Two" starts unloading commentary on everything from the music industry to superstardom to online gay culture (including a self-parodying cameo from Andy Cohen). And at the center of so much of it are the titular forgotten pair, Cary and Brooke.

These two are the crux of the series, because while Chase is a naive kid just riding the wave of fame, his older siblings are desperate for any grain of success. Brooke doesn't even have an apartment when we first meet her, she's somewhere between couch surfing and sleeping in the apartments she's meant to rent out as a real estate agent. As for Cary, he's a working actor — by which I mean a New York waiter who frequently goes out on auditions that he rarely hears back from. The rest of his time is spent recounting the tale of how he got into NYU (which he definitely, for sure did) but couldn't go (because of reasons). Their personal lives aren't much better: Brooke is stuck in an on-again-off-again relationship with lovable himbo Lance (Josh Segarra), while Cary can't stop sleeping with his roommate Matt (Andrew Ridings), who swears he's straight but keeps making the first move. But Chase's fame has the potential to change everything. And so the siblings walk a difficult line, searching for a balance between trying to carve out their own success and riding their kid brother's coattails as far as they can.

Equal Parts Cynical and Heartwarming

"The Other Two" shines for so many reasons — the sharp one-liners, the insane situational comedy, the mere existence of the Dubek matriarch, Molly Shannon's Pat — but most notable is its ability to jump between comedy and poignance, without one ever overwhelming the other.

If the show has a main priority, my guess is it's just making the audience laugh, and somehow, that never seems to come at the expense of dramatic tension. The characters end up in the most ridiculous situations, which are played for laughs more than anything else. Take, for example, the time Cary ends up in an endless hangout with some terrifyingly in-sync Instagays: He spends his whole night at a party in the hopes of being tagged in a photo that will win him hundreds of followers. Why is this important? Because the latest Murphy miniseries isn't "even considering anyone with under 50,000 Instagram followers."

"The Other Two" milks this situation for all the comedy it can offer — we get jokes about LGBTQ+ culture that are biting but never mean-spirited, plus the hilarity of watching Cary slowly lose his mind. But ultimately, the episode ends with a reminder that the Instagram-obsessed influencers are people, too. This is delivered via a cringy rant from Cary and an insightful exchange with the Instagays that never does us the disservice of looking us in the eye and explaining the Very Important Lesson to be learned. As much as the show has a cynical take on all things related to internet culture and is based entirely on the premise that fame is awful and the entertainment industry is soul-crushing, it's always oddly heartwarming. "The Other Two" has a warm, soft center: The Dubeks. For all their jealousy, desperation and frustration, these four are always rooting for one another, so it's easy for the audience to follow suit.