‘The Other Two’ Stars Talk Roasting Hollywood (and Rolling Stone!) in Season 3
Drew Tarver and Heléne Yorke — the titular stars in the HBO Max comedy The Other Two — are joking about the time they first met one another.
“We did a screen test together and, Heléne…, “ Tarver begins, “Remember you touched my face? Was that what it was? It was a sibling-esque touch.”
“It was nonconsensual,” Yorke says. “I didn’t ask. I just did.” She quickly shifts into pretending to be an outraged Tarver: “This one put her dirty paws all over me!“
“‘I was like, ‘Get her away from me,’“ Tarver laughs, picking up the joke. “And they were like, ‘We’re casting her.’“
Indeed, Yorke and Tarver give “sibling-esque” vibes in their performances as Brooke and Cary Dubek, the fame-hungry older siblings of a social-media-made teen pop star, making it easy to believe they grew up together. During a recent interview with Rolling Stone, they earnestly gassed each other up, gently teased, and finished each other’s thoughts. It’s a dynamic that clearly fuels their performances, but even comes across when Yorke is in Brooklyn and Tarver in Los Angeles and a pesky reporter is asking them questions on a three-way Zoom call.
Created by Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, former Saturday Night Live head writers — The Other Two became a cult favorite when it premiered on Comedy Central in 2019. It then moved to HBO Max in 2021, and the third season, which begins this week, continues to roast the entertainment industry (or simply The Industry, as the characters call it), but also explores the struggle with what celebrity means in 2023, where the dopamine hits of social media praise, sudden fame, and even the glamorous perks can quickly turn toxic.
When last we left the Dubeks, it was March 2020 and the Covid pandemic had forced the entertainment industry (and most of the world) to shut down just as Cary was about to start filming a movie. We know of course what came next: Pushes to get “back to normal,” detailed Covid protocols to follow: Working, while also trying to avoid a highly contagious, potentially deadly disease.
Season Three time-skips to three years later. Cary’s movie, Night Nurse is finally set to premiere after “the most Covid delays of any movie,” and he is struggling with the less-than-dreamlike experience. “Just no part of making it was how I thought it would be,” he confesses. Their mom, Pat (a brilliant Molly Shannon), is now an Oprah-like mogul, experiencing the loneliness of her bonkers fame, and chafing under her constant Secret Service protection. ChaseDreams (Case Walker) is about to turn 18 and seems destined to be marched through a kind of Stations of the Cross for child stars entering adulthood.
The way the show skewers social media, streaming, and other changes in The Industry is side-splitting, but also poignant, as the characters achieve fame only to then wonder, “Now what?”
“I think the writers have done such a great job each year of leveling up,” Tarver says. “Making these characters struggle, but in new ways, where they’re like, ‘Wait, they’re technically succeeding, but they’re struggling. How does that look? What does that look like?’”
Yorke’s Brooke especially seems to struggle with an existential crisis as she worries that everyone is doing more meaningful, “good” work, while she is still kind of a self-absorbed mess. Even her partner, lovable himbo Lance (Josh Segarra), quit fashion to become a nurse during the pandemic. Yorke’s Brooke, feeling attacked by his selflessness, picks arguments to show he’s not “that good.”
“I hope to god your piss isn’t all over the seat again,” she scolds him in one scene, as she stomps around their apartment.
“I really don’t mean to fight, B, but that is one hundred percent your piss,” Lance patiently responds.
“Brooke is an exercise in self-sabotage,” says Yorke, during our interview. “It’s a classic thing of, ‘I have this stuff, but it’s got to be wrong, so I’m going to run around like a bat out of hell and fuck it up for myself.’”
Yet the show is more delightfully surreal than ever. The latest episodes take a lot of “wild swings,” say Yorke and Tarver, which include some fun celebrity cameos and pitch-perfect parodies of Pleasantville, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, Love, Victor, Angels in America, and at least one weepy teens-in-a-hospital romance.
Episode Two evokes the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit. Now that he’s 18, ChaseDreams and his handlers are thrilled that a fictionalized version of this very organization, Rolling Stone, is going to pay $8 million for exclusive rights to a photo showing off “his full, adult man’s armpit.”
“Now that he’s an adult, we can get that big beautiful pit out there,” explains manager/stepdad Streeter Peters (Ken Marino). “This is one of the most beautiful moments in a male singer’s life. Surely you remember the first time you saw [Justin Timberlake’s] pit!” (Editor’s Note: The real Rolling Stone does not pay artists for photo shoots or articles. Not even never-seen-before armpits!)
The fictional Rolling Stone editors are terrified this pit pic is gonna leak, so Brooke is asked to drive a FreshDirect truck with the photos on a server from Los Angeles to New York and avoid road thieves from “GQ or maybe Men’s Health.” Even more absurdity follows.
Meanwhile, Cary, in pursuit of his own publicity, ends up taking “1 to the L to the very, very last stop on the F” to a place called Brooklyn Burrito Dot Com, which a publicist assures him “is pretty much the Rolling Stone of websites about burrito spots in Brooklyn.”
With the characters regularly off on their own adventures, Tarver and Yorke are often in scenes where they are talking on the phone to one another — something they have mixed feelings about. “I get really pissed when all the scenes they write for us are phone calls, which means we’re not in the same place at the same time” laughs Yorke. “You get to see the cuts later of us having a scene together, but you don’t realize that we’re not having a scene together.”
Tarver adds, “It does feel like a little bit of a reunion when we get to do a scene together. It’s like, ‘Oh, I get to do a scene with you next Tuesday. That’s going to be really fun.’ I feel like we bring that energy. We’ve been split up doing these long days, and then we’re back.”
“I’m such a fan of Heléne, and the way she plays this character just delights me,” Tarver says.
But as on The Other Two, the sweet sincerity is quickly leavened with jokes, and soon Tarver and Yorke are offering tongue-in-cheek pitches for improving this article.
“I guess we need to answer our top 50 albums of the decade? Is that what we need to do?,” says Tarver. “‘Drew Tarver Goes Into Depth About the Coolest Jam Bands’ or something?”
“I thought you said Drew Tarver goes into debt, and I was like, ‘Ooh,’” says Yorke.
“Yeah, that would be fun,” he says. “I would read that article.”
As the interview ends, Yorke makes one final suggestion: “We want a cover with the whole cast with our pits out!”
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