How The Other Two Perfectly Encapsulated the State of Show Business in 2021

Sharp writing and fine-tuned central performances made the HBO comedy an essential watch this year

the other two
The Other Two (HBO Max)

    Our 2021 Annual Report continues with a look at one of the year’s best television shows. As December rolls along, stay tuned for more awards, lists, and articles about the best music, film, and TV of 2021. You can find it all in one place here.

    If you’re already watching The Other Two, welcome to the right side of history.

    There’s so much content to be consumed right now — living in the era of prestige television can be both incredibly rewarding and incredibly time-consuming — but for anyone that hasn’t yet jumped into the world of the Dubek family, consider this a sign to start.

    The Other Two premiered in 2018 on Comedy Central and returned for a second season on HBO Max this year. (When the trailer was released, this writer sent it to a friend with the caption, “New reason to live just dropped.”) The story centers on siblings Cary (a remarkably consistent Drew Tarver) and Brooke Dubek (Heléne Yorke, who should be part of every major awards conversation), who are siloed into the roles of “the other two” when their younger brother Chase (Case Walker) becomes a Bieber-style star overnight via viral video.


    The show is sharp and pointed in its observations, no matter where the writing turns — but its focus is primarily on the entertainment industry. When we meet Cary in Season 1, he is a Sisyphean figure, scraping through the humiliation of existing as an auditioning actor day in and day out — Season 2 takes him to new places, but he faces many of the same predicaments.

    Meanwhile, Brooke is a former professional dancer who has lost her way, clinging to the allure of fame-adjacency as a music manager, while Season 2 sees Molly Shannon take on an expanded role as their Pat, who stumbles her way into the top hosting slot on daytime television.