The Other Two Is a Winning Portrait of a Gen-Z World

Comedy Central’s new series is a warmhearted depiction of generational confusion.

Heléne Yorke and Drew Tarver star in The Other Two. (Comedy Central)

The Other Two, Comedy Central’s new series, has visual jokes so sharp that you could watch it with the sound off and it would still be funnier than many other shows. There’s Chase Dreams (Case Walker), a 13-year-old internet superstar whose look is Justin Bieber on mushrooms: harem pants, gold chains, leather jackets that seem like they’re made out of a multipack of neon markers. Chase’s mother, Pat (Molly Shannon), has an aesthetic that’s solidly Ohio-mom-meets-Kate-Gosselin, all fuchsia lace and tiger-striped hair. A running gag on the series is that Chase is subletting an apartment that belongs to the actor Justin Theroux, featuring a motorcycle toilet and a walk-in closet exclusively populated with black leather boots.

These moments are just sprinkles, though—added extras on The Other Two’s piquant serving of generational satire. The show isn’t really about Chase, who becomes impossibly famous overnight after a song he posts online, “I Wanna Marry U at Recess,” goes viral. It’s about his slacker Millennial siblings, Brooke (Heléne Yorke) and Cary (Drew Tarver), a former dancer and a struggling actor, respectively, who find themselves vaulted into a brave new world of Gen-Z celebrities. In art, as in life, the kids are deftly navigating the waters of Instagram fame, LLCs, online activism, and desperate brands. It’s the adults who can’t keep up. (Richard Kind plays Cary’s agent, whose many side hustles become one of the show’s more poignant themes.)

The crux of The Other Two is that, while Chase’s fame makes Brooke and Cary look even worse at life by comparison, the pair is determined to hitch its stars to his wagon. “We must live every day like it’s the last day Chase is famous,” Brooke determines. But as in any good fish-out-of-water comedy, the other two are totally out of place. Brooke, trying to network at a premiere after-party, gapes when she hears teenagers conversing about the benefits of LLCs versus S corps. Cary, trying to get enough followers to score an audition for a new Ryan Murphy show, cozies up to a group of self-described “Instagays” to leech off their fan base, but is completely befuddled by the dynamics of influencer life. The bigger Chase gets, the stronger his siblings’ thirst.

The series is acutely keen satire with a pantomathic cultural IQ, dropping references to the most-online personalities (from Logan Paul to Tomi Lahren), the indignity of post-internet fame (“Burger King is ripping him apart,” Cary says, wincing, after Chase’s botched performance is lampooned by the brand on Twitter), and the strange composure of Generation Z amid all this absurdity. It’s also notably dirty for a comedy airing not on HBO.

But what elevates The Other Two even more is its heart. Walker’s angelic Chase gets fewer scenes than his siblings, but he’s a sweet kid in such a weird and manipulative world that you long to protect him (Ken Marino plays Chase’s manager, a dubious buffoon in a white Kangol cap). So do Brooke and Cary, for the most part, who end up making the show one of the more endearing family comedies on television, internet porn and frozen penises aside.

Created by the former Saturday Night Live writers Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly, and executive produced by Lorne Michaels, The Other Two feels fully conceived right out of the gate. On the strength of its producers’ connections, there are cameos from Andy Cohen, Patrick Wilson, Mario Lopez, and Hoda Kotb. SNL’s Beck Bennett plays a flight attendant whom Brooke hooks up with, while Wanda Sykes plays Chase’s publicist, a woman constantly managing the vagaries of the internet’s attention span along with her client’s hormones (when Chase gets a pimple, she mutters, “We might have to transition to sexy sooner than I thought”).

It’s the rare show that can be edgily satirical without being cynical. It takes what could be an easy punch line—kids these days!—and inverts it, finding more to lampoon in the desperation of the grown-ups muscling in on tween territory than the actual youths with their airplane album launches, their million-dollar makeup tutorials, and their lives spent online. This is possibly savvy: Schneider and Kelly are making nice with the next generation of influencers even before they accrue significant industry power. But it also makes for a show that’s often smarter and more insightful than it seems.