Spoiler alert! This story contains details about “The Other Two” Season 1, Episode 9, “Chase Drops His First Album.”
If you’ve never ugly-cried about someone’s penis getting frozen to a roof, then you probably haven’t seen Comedy Central’s “The Other Two.”
Luckily for you, there’s still time to catch up on TV’s most absurd and affecting new comedy, which wraps its 10-episode first season March 28 (10:30 EDT/PDT), with a second already in the works. The show follows floundering thirtysomethings Cary (Drew Tarver), an aspiring actor, and Brooke (Helene Yorke), a former dancer, whose teenage brother Chase (Case Walker) becomes an overnight singing sensation on YouTube (think Justin Bieber).
Thursday’s penultimate episode tied up Season 1’s central mystery in a deeply moving way that still hewed to the series’ wacky, joke-a-second spirit. Cary and Brooke join Chase on an airplane circling JFK airport with dozens of screaming girls to celebrate the release of his debut album as pop star ChaseDreams (which is really just three songs and nine remixes).
Until then, Chase’s mom Pat (Molly Shannon) had told Chase that his dad had died of cancer months earlier. But when Chase announces to his fans his plan to donate album profits to cancer research in his father’s memory, Cary and Brooke pressure Pat to finally tell him the truth about their father’s death.
Tensions escalate as the family dashes in and out of bathrooms to escape Chase’s high-strung manager (Ken Marino) and publicist (Wanda Sykes) until Pat eventually has a meltdown in front of her kids – and everyone else on the plane.
“He was a (expletive) alcoholic and froze to death on the roof,” she reveals through tears, confiding she had to thaw her late husband’s testicles with a blow dryer. He struggled with Cary being gay, she says, “but he was doing the best that he could do. … You guys have such (expletive) memories of him and I just wanted Chase to have something different.”
It’s a devastating moment that “Other Two” co-creators Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider lighten with sardonic humor: Moments later, people start chiming in on Twitter with their own stories about how their dads froze to death, sparking the hashtag #MyDadFroze. Having each lost a parent in real life, the former “Saturday Night Live” writers wanted to convey the preposterous, often surreal moments that come with grieving.
“The circumstances are so bizarre; it’s almost funny that it’s so awful,” Kelly says. At the same time, “we didn’t want to undermine the revelation about his dad. We wanted it to feel like real people talking about something, so it was a tricky balance to make sure it was funny enough for a comedy show but also not just dumb or frivolous.”
That earned emotion and sincerity is what ultimately sets “Other Two” apart from showbiz satires such as “30 Rock” and “Difficult People.” While Cary and Brooke are cynical – scoffing at “Instagays,” backup dancers and anyone more famous than themselves – they also don’t openly begrudge their brother’s success. Instead, they look after Chase: Brooke becomes his assistant, and ensures he gets to enjoy normal “kid” things like school dances. She even carries him home on his 14th birthday when he gets too drunk at a club, where he partied with fictional heiresses Tiffany Glad and Natalie Kleenex.
“It’s set in this pop-culture world and satirizes a lot of elements of that, but we really set out to make a show about a family,” Schneider says. “We like the idea that there’s this deep, family issue that they haven’t quite come to terms with, but then having to be thrust into this Chase world, they’re having to deal with it publicly.”
“Other Two” is also part of a recent shift in how TV comedies portray queer characters, joining other nuanced portrayals in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Broad City” and “One Day at a Time.”
Cary isn’t just a flamboyant sidekick, but a gawky, unconfident, occasionally self-absorbed lead character. In the season’s standout fourth episode, he panics when Chase’s song about him – “My Brother’s Gay” – goes viral, but soon warms to his new “icon” status when a closeted LGBTQ youth comes out to him. He has casual love interests and refreshingly candid conversations about sex that are rarely heard among gay men on TV, with relatable euphemisms about pizza and toilet paper that might go over many straight viewers’ heads.
“I’m gay and we had a lot of queer writers in the writers room, so when we were pitching stories, those are just the stories we came up with,” Kelly says. “But I am glad that people are responding to it and feel seen, and are hearing stories that they’re like, ‘Oh, I haven’t seen this before.’ That’s gratifying and also sad, because why haven’t we?”
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