The Other Two Creators & Stars on Season 3’s Comedy, Character Growth, and Existential Questions

TV Features the other two
The Other Two Creators & Stars on Season 3’s Comedy, Character Growth, and Existential Questions

When The Other Two premiered on Comedy Central in January 2019, its ratings didn’t quite solidify it as an original programming smash hit for the network. The behemoth Broad City was wrapping up its sixth and final season, and Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens would still be a year away from premiering. The Other Two was sort of just there. During its first season, the madcap satire about a pair of adult siblings sidelined by their younger brother’s sudden rise to fame seemed to get, well, sidelined.

Now, in its third season (and second on HBO Max/soon-to-be Max), The Other Two has finally found its own place in the limelight. The show’s uncomfortably relatable characters and salaciously funny commentary on the entertainment industry make it the ultimate word-of-mouth show for the type of audience that can appreciate its oddly specific pop culture references, off-kilter queer and feminine point of view, and surprisingly humane underdog narrative. It’s a show about the “others” in life for the others in life.

Season 3 kicks off a bit after the events of the second season, which ended with Cary (Drew Tarver) finally landing his big acting break on the wonderfully vague-titled Night Nurse, Brooke (Heléne Yorke) rekindling with boyfriend Lance (Josh Segarra) and reprioritizing her sisterly and managerial duties toward Chase (Case Walker), and Pat (Molly Shannon) earning a much-needed vacation before starting her own TV network. As their mother and brother’s fame climbs even higher, Brooke and Cary appear to finally find their own slivers of success in their chosen fields and personal relationships. But all that success finds them questioning… now what?

It’s no surprise then that The Other Two’s creators and stars are as equally zany, funny, and sharp as the show itself. We recently caught up with co-creators Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider as well as stars Drew Tarver and Heléne Yorke to discuss how Cary and Brooke have and haven’t matured three seasons in, what to expect from the remaining six episodes, and (most crucially) which store’s pants deserve their own advertisement on our site. If you haven’t caught up with the first four episodes of the new season on HBO Max yet, beware that spoilers await you below.

These conversations have been condensed and edited for clarity.

Paste Magazine: It’s very apparent in Season 3 that these characters have entered a new post-COVID world. Especially in the first episode with Cary’s experience on Night Nurse, I’m wondering how much, if any of that, is based on your experience with being interrupted by COVID while shooting Season 2?

Chris Kelly: Yeah… ish. You know, shooting during COVID is so wild and weird. So it was either based on or not at all based on how Season 2 was.

Sarah Schneider: Yeah, no, it was very smooth for us, so this is all imagination [laughs].

Kelly: We can only imagine this must have happened to other people.

Paste: When you’re crafting the satirical elements of the show in regards to Hollywood, how much of it are you drawing from your own personal experiences in the industry versus things you’re witnessing or hypothesizing about?

Schneider: It’s both. I mean, we obviously keep up to date with pop culture and what’s going on in the world and what feels satirizable. And then when it comes to our main characters’ experiences in the industry, we certainly draw from our own challenges and things that we’ve experienced. So it’s definitely a combination. But we always try and make sure that if we’re going to be working in the cultural zeitgeist that it feels like something fresh, or that we haven’t quite seen before, or something we’ve noticed and want to call out or make fun of. It’s an equation.

Kelly: The individual jokes might not be things we’ve experienced. Like we’ve never been to Ellen’s birthday party before, for example. But the insecurities, anxieties, worries, frustrations, or the things like those that are at the root of episodes are more based on things we’ve felt or experienced or wondered about.

Paste: Like the insecurity of running into Ellen at her own party.

Kelly: Yes, the fear of that, exactly. We’ve all experienced the constant fear that she could be anywhere, but never at a birthday party, specifically.

Paste: I know you both have talked about how Cary and Brooks stem from these slightly autobiographical places for you. Three seasons in, is that still the case? Or do you think that these characters have really started to take a life of their own?

Schneider: Yeah, I was going to say that. Drew and Heléne, who play Brooke and Cary, are so these characters that now, as we’re writing the third season, we were just writing for them—what we knew they would be funny doing, what we thought the characters would be funny experiencing or having to put up with or just spinning their wheels about. So, like Chris was saying, stuff that we’ve experienced or feelings that we’ve had root the stories, but those characters do exist now on their own.

Kelly: We sort of learned how to write for their voices a little bit more. At a very base level, we’ll be like, oh, Heléne is really funny when she does this, or we really want to do something where Heléne can just be a fucking bull in a china shop at this party, or we know how Drew is best humiliated. Things like that. They’re still sort of based on us, though. I remember when we were coming out of COVID and starting Season 3, we talked about what’s a big idea for Cary, a big idea for Brooke, or what’s a big want or season arc for each of them. And both of those are based on not necessarily Sarah’s as Brooke’s and mine as Cary’s [experiences], but two separate and complementary things that we’ve been thinking about post-COVID—what it’s like to still work in the entertainment industry, what we do with our lives, or what’s meaningful and all that kind of stuff. So a lot of the bigger questions that the characters are asking, we were asking ourselves, but then we still were trying to write for Drew and Heléne day-to-day.

Schneider: I mean, Brooke’s scene at [AOC’s office in Episode 4] was literally a conversation that Chris and I had because I was like, “I think I need to leave the industry and go work for AOC.” And Chris was like—

Kelly: Sarah was like, “I’m sick of it, I need to change, I want to just like do good and work for AOC.” And I was like, “Yeah, doing what?” She was like, “I could just be like a sounding board.” I was like, “What? A sounding board?”

Schneider: I was being authentic!

Kelly: And then, what, you would get paid? And you were like, “If AOC needs help or wants to bounce ideas off me she could.”

Schneider: Yeah, we’ll just be friends.

Kelly: That’s not a job! [laughs]

Paste: There’s truth to that because, culturally, the pandemic made people look at what they’re doing with their lives and what they’re doing for work and maybe realize, “Oh, this is not the path I wanted to go down.” It definitely seems like Brooke is having that crisis.

Kelly: I do think the pandemic was a reset for a lot of us. Also, I want people to watch this and not think this all takes place during the pandemic, it’s not as pandemic-y as it sounds.

Paste: We’ll move on from the pandemic after this. Lord knows we all want to.

Kelly: I do think during the pandemic a lot of people reassessed their lives and were like, “What do I actually want to spend my time doing and what’s meaningful? Or how do I add more meaning to my life?” But I think what was interesting about Brooke’s character is that she had just done that. So in Season 2, she really clawed and scraped to find meaning in her life and to find a job that she loved and was good at. And so she finally in Season 2 did the damn thing and was a manager and was successful, and it felt cool and powerful. I think now she almost feels like she should be reevaluating her life like everybody else, but she’s like, “No, I did and I’m all good. Am I bad?”

Paste: Something I’ve wanted to ask since Season 1 is how did you get away with making a show that is so gay? It touches on so many different aspects so specific to gay culture, between Instagays and discourse around straight actors playing gay roles and masc versus femme privilege, that I feel like might not resonate with a wider, straighter audience. When you went into the pitching process, how was it received?

Kelly: It was sort of like a non-issue. I don’t know. People might be surprised because it was on Comedy Central first, so we used to get those questions all the time. But [Comedy Central President] Kent Alterman, [Head of Comedy Central Content and Creative Enterprises] Sarah Babineau, and all the people who originally bought and really shepherded the show were like, “Great, we love it. We love the show. We think it’s funny. We think it’s good, we like the characters.” It was never a battle. We never had to be like, “And twist, guys! Now that you bought it, he’s gay.” [Laughs] It was just never really thought about or discussed that much. And like we said earlier, we just write a lot from our lives, and I’m gay and a lot of our writers are gay. We’ve been lucky that we haven’t had to think about a ton. It hasn’t been a thing to navigate or dial up or down based on “what they’ll let us do,” you know.

Schneider: It’s so ingrained in the DNA of the show. And when we sold the show, we’d already written the pilot and the pilot was already very gay, so we were sort of like, “Here is what it is and if you’d like to buy it, that is what it’s going to be.” So from the beginning, as Chris said, we just had the right partner, because they bought what they wanted to. We had other feedback like, “You could maybe tone this down.” And then we didn’t end up making it with them. So it just went to the right place, and that was the key.

Kelly: It’s so funny. I guess it is so baked in, because when you were like, it’s so gay, I was like, even four episodes into Season 3? I guess! I don’t think about it or not think about it, but I’m glad it’s still very gay.

Paste: There’s the scene at Ellen’s party where Curtis gets the role that Cary was going out for and they talk about this idea that being a “femme” gay actor is in right now. Where did that observation come from?

Kelly: I think it was Jimmy Fowlie? I could be wrong.

Schneider: Every season with our writers, we just want to talk about what feels like the new experience. A lot of our writers are actors, and a lot of our writers are gay actors, so it’s like, what’s the experience? What are you seeing or feeling that is happening more? And so we just rely on their time and their experiences. And yeah, I think it was Jimmy.

Kelly: It’ll get more into it later in episodes, but this season is a lot about the friendship between Cary and Curtis. And so that was one little story of what Cary’s success does to their friendship, or what is it like when you have two friends both on parallel journeys but at different stages. The way that Cary reacts to that situation is a tough little moment in their friendship. I think it was based on something that we felt was in culture, was in the conversation, what was the thing in the gay community, and we’ll see. Is it gay culture that my battery’s dying? Okay, sorry, keep going.

Schneider: To take on any one aspect of—I’m speaking for the gay community [laughs]—the gay community, because…

Kelly: Yeah, Sarah, take this gay question while I find a charger. [Kelly leaves to find a laptop charger]

Schneider: I was just gonna say, it’s not a monolith, like any group, you know. So you’re always like, “Oh, we want to do this story but we don’t want to say this is the only story, or this is the only point of view, or this is the only experience.” So I think, luckily, Curtis was a perfect character to have that experience. And Brandon Scott Jones is so funny and good and authentic in those scenes, I love them. But it doesn’t speak to everyone’s experience. It’s just there for these two characters in that episode. [Kelly returns]

Paste: At the end of the first episode, Cary winds up scrolling through Twitter [to see how fans respond to his movie]. It would be an easy laugh to have him go through Twitter and see it’s just people ripping the movie and his performance apart. But people were really positive about it, but that also doesn’t seem to make Cary happy. What was the conversation like going into that moment?

Kelly: Yeah, we talked about that a lot. Because at first people were like, “Oh, is Night Nurse good?” It feels like it should be bad. It feels like it should be what the joke would be. And then I think it felt more interesting for us to be like, yeah, it was good. It was 87% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and everyone was like, “This is good!” Otherwise then there’s obvious drama or something. But I don’t know. We liked ending the first episode with: Night Nurse came out, it was good, people liked it, he got everything he wanted, and… okay. Like that thing that’s on the script like, “Okay… now what?” It just felt like a more interesting place to leave him on. Because if it was bad, then he could be like, “Okay, well, I need to do something good.” But it was good, and so why does he still feel like not done or something?

Schneider: Sort of the thesis for the season is and yet. Like, “I have it, and yet….” That’s what we wanted to explore with him.

Paste: So, last question for you guys. You were a part of the, let’s say, sublime chaos of SNL for many years. And I’m wondering, what are the benefits of having the time to write and craft entire season-long arcs versus pumping out sketches on a weekly basis? And what have you both noticed three seasons in about that writing experience?

Schneider: Hmm, it’s tough. The grass is always greener, probably. You know, it’s really hard to make a show. And SNL was also hard, but you had a deadline, and so you just wrote for a week and then whatever it was, either good or bad, you moved on. So there wasn’t a lot of time to overthink or make sure everything’s perfectly crafted. Chris and I care about all the little details, so it’s nice to have the time to tell a bigger story, but then you actually have the time.

Kelly: It’s also weird because it’s not actually slower, or it’s not actually more time if you think about it. You have a week to work on three minutes as opposed to like a year to work on 300 minutes.

Schneider: True.

Kelly: So it’s proportionally just about as much of a damn rush. So yeah, that’s kind of been interesting. You have more time but you’re doing way, way more.

Paste: I talked with Sarah and Chris earlier this morning, and they were talking about how when they started writing Cary and Brooke, they started from very personal places but that three seasons in they have reached the point where they really know that you two will take off with the material they’re writing. At this point in playing these characters, how comfortable do you feel in embodying them and really knowing who they are?

Heléne Yorke: It’s funny, we went back to work about a year and a half after shooting Season 2, roughly, and I just remember the first day on set I was walking up to the FreshDirect truck and just saying whatever stupid thing that Brooke was saying—I think it was a voicemail she was leaving for Lance. It is just so fun to play characters that you’re so lived in. They’re just like those jeans you’ve been wearing for a long time and never had to wash. It’s the best.

Drew Tarver: Yeah, like anytime you get into the old wardrobe, you’re like, “Ah, yes, of course, these jeans…”

Yorke: Way to trample on my joke that was so good and then one-up me.

Tarver: No, no, no, I’m building on and supporting, I’m not one-upping.

Yorke: Uh-huh.

Tarver: You led me there, which [Yorke] does a lot in scenes. No, that does actually make me think: I do find this character a lot through scenes with Heléne and our dialogue together. I feel like the first time we did a scene together in our screen test, it felt right and it just felt very lived-in and truthful. And I feel like with Chris and Sarah’s writing mixed with the cast, it’s easy to just get right back in it. And it helps to be in some, you know, J Crew 770 chinos. [Laughs] Please definitely promote J Crew 770 cut chinos.

Yorke: I’m gonna start getting ads. My phone is listening.

Tarver: “Do you want stretch fit or regular cotton?” How did it know?

Paste: I think one of the funniest and most pointed pieces of commentary in the new season is about how when Chase turns 18, he’s automatically sexualized as an adult, which is disgusting but also kind of perfect. How do you think that the siblings are now viewing their brother who they were always very protective of but who is now an adult and being looked at in a new way?

Yorke: I think they sort of—and this has been the pitfall they’ve fallen into in both Seasons 2 and 3—is that they’re so concerned with themselves, and then by the time they notice that this is going on, it’s too late. I think getting consumed in your own bullshit really prevents you from being able to see what’s important or how the people you care about are being affected.

Tarver: Yeah, it does feel like they’re always two beats behind other people’s emotional revelations because they are so consumed with themselves, like Heléne was saying. They are protective of him, but I think it’s second to themselves a lot.

Paste: Definitely the running theme of the show.

Yorke: Absolutely.

Paste: Something really great about where the series is at is that both Brooke and Cary are starting to find success in their respective careers. With Cary in the Emily Overruled plotline, he starts to realize the not-so-glamorous aspects of becoming a working actor and then becomes a quasi-bootlegger for the “acting movement” on the set, which I don’t know if the Cary from two seasons ago would have had the gall to do. Where do you think he might have gotten this confidence from?

Tarver: I think his confidence in that specific episode—which I think is an amazing episode and such a great way to play out how he’s frustrated by the way some of his dreams are turning out and how they feel a little bit like, “Hey, this is just a job, some things about it are like a normal job.” I think Cary is always trying to control how his life is going and grab it and push it in a direction that he initially thought it would go. So I do think he’s definitely being bolder than he normally is in other seasons, but I think it’s coming from that same place of like, “No, no, no. My dream is not going to end up like this. I’m gonna grab control of it (even if it’s to the detriment of going over 5pm) and make it better.” And whether he does or not is shown in the season.

Paste: And with Brooke, she is a character who’s constantly comparing herself to others, and this season she starts to really question whether the entertainment industry is a force of good in the world, especially as she is spending so much time with Lance and other frontline workers. How much do you think Brooke’s new drive to do good is that she wants to do good versus how much she wants to be seen as someone who’s good?

Yorke: I think we have these expectations of ourselves to be something that we think would reflect well in the world and to the people we care about, but then you’re not able to look within and really be honest about who you are. It’s so funny because during the pandemic I talked to Sarah [Schneider] one day, and she was doing so much good. She was boxing up and bagging up tampons for her unhoused neighbors and driving kids home from protests and doing this and the other. And I was like bingeing Tiger King and upset about, you know, should I be getting Botox during the pandemic? Will anybody care? Like, this is where my brain was, and my friend is this selfless individual, and I am inherently selfish. And, you know, I ended up trying to pivot in ways where I volunteered at the church across the street and could be like, “I’m good!” And then I was so happy I broke my knee because then I didn’t have to do it anymore [laughs].

Tarver: “I’m gonna do good, but it best be across the street.”

Yorke: Yes, it better be across the street, so I can then text Sarah and be like, “You really inspired me.” [laughs] I followed this website that she told me to join that was like, you know, “Do good together!” And I recently was like, “Yeah, I can block these emails now though, it’s fine.” [laughs] I think so much of how we exist now in this world is how we look to other people and how what other people are doing looks to us and how good it looks, how fancy it looks, how great these people are, how great the situations they’re in are. And the closer you get to this stuff, the more you realize everybody’s basically a loser and also doesn’t know what’s going on. [laughs] We’re all losers, I’m including myself in this.

Tarver: Okay, easy, I’m pretty cool.

Yorke: Except for Drew.

Paste: “Everyone is a loser besides Drew.” Okay, noted.

Yorke: That’s the quote! That’s the pull quote for Paste by Team Drew and Heléne.

Tarver: He is the biggest loser.

Michael Savio is a freelance writer and former editorial intern at Pastebased in New York. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in cultural reporting and criticism at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin