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Review: The Other Two Trades in Millennial Stereotypes

The series operates in the same world-weary register as its superior predecessors.

The Other Two
Jon Pack/Comedy Central

With its stereotypical urban millennial protagonists and New York City-centric humor, The Other Two operates in the same world-weary register as Broad City, Girls, and Difficult People. The series follows two siblings, Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke Dubek (Heléne Yorke), as they flail into their 30s, dissatisfied with their careers, love lives, and the world they’re inheriting. The various disillusions of these underachieving twentysomethings are only heightened by the success of their kid brother, Chase (Case Walker), a YouTube star who’s quickly becoming a pop-music phenom.

Cary and Brooke are easily recognizable archetypes: he waits tables while nurturing an acting career defined by roles like “Man at Party Who Smells a Fart”; she’s a party girl turned self-proclaimed “social justice warrior” who’s fired from her real-estate job in the first episode. Brooke’s goal for her first summer—to see 50 dicks—is a lofty one. The pair has a warm rapport, and Tarver and Yorke possess an easy chemistry, but the show’s writers have trouble breaking the characters free from the stereotypical trappings that define them.

The Other Two plainly uses Chase to ape Justin Bieber, from the vapid YouTube music video that launches him into stardom (“Marry You at Recess”), to the tacky hoodies he wears in public appearances. Undoubtedly, the series keeps Chase a cipher to emphasize the façade of pop music and the calculated, curated nature of celebrity; Streeter (Ken Marino), Chase’s desperate, cynical manager, underlines that argument by doing things like binding Chase’s neck to “keep his Adam’s apple under control” and dyeing the young singer’s tongue pink. Yet, despite having a clear target, the premise of The Other Two feels strangely detached from time. Bieber debuted in 2009, so the show’s main target seems like stale, low-hanging fruit.

Still, there are resonant moments here, usually stemming from a geographic and generational vocabulary that the series owes to its predecessors. In a bit of narrow topographical humor, Brooke, despite needing a few dozen more dicks to reach her summer goal, refuses to travel to Midtown East; The Other Two is more concerned with defining her as someone who would instinctively sneer at Midtown Manhattan than it is with communicating her specific objections. And Cary’s career amounts to a series of in-jokes aimed at viewers familiar with the hegemony of the New York theater scene. Seasoned performers such as Marino and Molly Shannon (as the matriarch of the Dubek clan) inject an energetic absurdity to the show’s otherwise snarky portrayal of Cary and Brooke’s hilariously pathetic existence.

The siblings’ sadness is a recognizable strain of millennial ennui, which the series only rarely explores. Some notably long scenes unfold without jokes altogether, and those bits are distinguished in The Other Two from the restless, nervous dependence on punchlines that otherwise defines the series. In one such instance, Cary, who’s gay, finally rejects the advances of his roommate—who likes to make out but otherwise insists upon his heterosexuality. In another, Brooke and Cary have a frank discussion about whether they feel comfortable milking Chase’s success for themselves. In these fleeting moments, the series reveals qualities in Brooke and Cary which amount to more than mere generational punchlines. Mostly, though, The Other Two is determined to define the siblings by their age bracket, and amounts to yet another portrait of underachieving, navel-gazing ‘80s babies.

Cast: Drew Tarver, Heléne York, Case Walker, Molly Shannon, Ken Marino Network: Comedy Central, Thursdays, 10:30 p.m.

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