Every week, we pick a new episode of the week. It could be good. It could be bad. It will always be interesting. You can read the archives here. The episode of the week for January 27 through February 2 is “Chase Goes to a Premiere,” the second episode of Comedy Central’s The Other Two.
“Shout out to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” the freshly minted celebrity walking the red carpet says into the camera. Then he remembers to add something: “And Sony Pictures.”
It’s a tossed-off joke, and not even the funniest one in the new Comedy Central series The Other Two, but it says a lot about the show’s fundamental worldview. It’s a series about aging where one of the main characters is a 13-year-old boy, and it’s a show about celebrity that features a star whose fame is almost inexplicable to anyone older than 30.
The 13-year-old boy who makes the Jesus/Sony joke is ChaseDreams (aka Chase Dubek), a kid who’s found himself at the center of a weird maelstrom of fame, thanks to his YouTube music video “I Wanna Marry You at Recess.” He’s immensely famous to a large crowd of people under 18, and the adults in his life are forced to keep up as his new career takes flight, even though they don’t really understand it.
Those adults try to get him to play by the old rules of show business — which include making sure to thank the studio that invited you to a movie premiere, and performing an incredibly anodyne version of Christianity — but he doesn’t really understand those rules, because at just 13, he’s a self-made celebrity.
And yet for as much satire of show business and the world as these elements suggest, The Other Two is surprisingly heartfelt when it comes to questions of family, of grief, and of struggle.
Oh, and it’s also the first TV show I can think of about millennials realizing they’re getting old.
If The Other Two has a satirical target, it’s not show business. It’s generational turnover.
There’s an element of The Other Two that feels like a barely disguised thinkpiece about the differences between millennials and their younger siblings in Gen Z. The main characters who are millennials are all constantly hustling to keep their heads above water and debating whether they actually are millennials (a classic millennial thing to do!). The Gen-Z teenager is an entrepreneur who’s as comfortable with the surreal nature of fame as with anything else in his adolescence.
One generation grew up amid economic uncertainty; the second grew up seeing their rough peers become YouTube superstars, shrugged, and said, “Why not me?” In its own wicked way, The Other Two is a companion piece to Bo Burnham’s wonderful 2018 movie Eighth Grade, which captures the exact flip side of this experience — the young kids who see others in their cohort attracting millions on YouTube and have no idea how to communicate the contents of their own heads in a way that will connect.
What keeps The Other Two from being a lame “Millennials be like this, but Gen Z be like this!” standup routine is the way it grounds these ideas both in character and in family. Its central three characters are all siblings. The oldest two, Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary (Drew Tarver), are in their early 30s and flailing. Cary still wants to be an actor, but the best offer he’s gotten in ages is for a commercial where he’ll play the role of “Guy Who Smells Fart at Party.” Brooke, meanwhile, left behind her past as a dancer to become a real estate agent, a job she promptly loses in The Other Two’s pilot because she’s been crashing in the luxury apartments she’s supposed to be selling.
In contrast, 13-year-old Chase (Case Walker), their younger brother, is serenely confident in his ability to, well, chase his dreams. His song, his stage name, and his façade — they’re all completely vacuous, but they sell. On some level, The Other Two is a cynical story about a dumb teenager who’s ruthlessly exploited by an industry that intends to wring him dry and the family members who see him as their ticket to the stars.
But on another level, The Other Two isn’t that series, not exactly. Chase is vacuous because he’s 13, and who among us wasn’t vacuous at 13? (I’ll share some poetry with you someday if you’d like.) And even if his relationship with Brooke and Cary isn’t as strong as it might have been if the three siblings were all closer in age, they still have that bond, especially as the show slowly teases out the story of how this family is mourning the recent loss of its patriarch. (Molly Shannon appears occasionally as the trio’s mom, and she’s note-perfect as what can only be described as “a kindly narcissist.”)
What ultimately keeps The Other Two from collapsing into the weakest version of itself is the way writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider keep one eye on how this story isn’t particular to this moment in time. People in their 30s are always looking at teenagers and saying, “Holy shit. I’m getting old.” Teenagers are always fundamentally a little inexplicable to those of us who’ve crested 30, and yes, someday, they’ll be just as old as we are and baffled by the teenagers of the future.
None of this is new, but it always feels new, because you only get the one life, and you live it chronologically. The Other Two just makes jokes about it.
But, okay, yes, “Chase Goes to a Premiere” is very funny about Hollywood, too
The most hysterical thing about “Chase Goes to a Premiere” is that the movie premiere Chase gets invited to is one of those low-level pictures, something that was probably paid for with the spare change in some Hollywood executive’s couch cushions.
It’s an absolutely terrible animated movie called When in Gnome that apparently involves a gnome who travels to Italy, meets a bunch of offensive Italian stereotypes, and then makes a number of puns involving the word “gnome.” If you were forced to watch this movie, you might give up watching movies forever. We never actually see any portion of the film. We just hear its characters’ over-broad accents emanating from the screen as our main characters cringe in horror at what they’ve been forced to watch.
But The Other Two knows Chase isn’t going to be invited to the next Marvel premiere, not yet. He’s going to be stuck at the lowest levels of Hollywood fame, attending movie premieres like the one for When in Gnome. And yet he’s just a kid from Ohio for whom the entire experience is all still a little bit exciting. And for his siblings, who’ve never been so close to fame, it’s a chance to network, even if it’s a somewhat depressing chance. (Amusingly, Brooke wears all white to the premiere, so everybody assumes she and Cary either just got married or are about to.)
The episode also captures the slightly desperate air of any Hollywood event at this level of fame — where the attendees are just famous enough to crave more fame but also not entirely sure how they’re going to get to the next level. Chase might just be having a good time, but his manager, Streeter (a very funny Ken Marino), sees his new client as a meal ticket and works the red carpet with a feverish need to keep pushing Chase higher and higher and higher.
The story of Hollywood is too often vaguely vampiric — with the older (and by that I mean “anybody over 30”) preying on the younger in ways designed to extend their own career. Sometimes, that’s wholly professional and transactional, if still kinda gross, as shown by the relationship between Streeter and Chase. Sometimes, as reality has shown us many, many times, it’s far, far worse than that.
The Other Two’s sly genius lies in how it understands that this vampirism is true in families and all other human relationships, too. We’re all just here to make sure those younger than us survive to a point where they, too, are as old as we are, blinking in confusion at those kids today.
The Other Two airs Thursdays at 10:30 pm Eastern on Comedy Central. Previous episodes are available on the network’s website, to cable subscribers.
Correction: ChaseDreams’s hit is “I Wanna Marry You at Recess,” not “Kiss You at Recess.” We literally have no idea how we made this error, and we dearly apologize.