How 'The Other Two' Made One of the Funniest TV Episodes of the Year
The series showrunners, Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, talk about the incredible Season 2 finale involving a sexting scandal and a special celebrity cameo.
Season 2 of HBO Max's The Other Two ends in a place most other series wouldn't dare go: talking extensively about a character's butthole. The comedy about the not-as-successful adult siblings of the Dubek family, Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Heléne York)—whose younger brother, Chase (Case Walker), is a teen pop sensation and mother, Pat (Molly Shannon), is the No. 1 talk show host on TV—wraps up its second season with a two-part finale about yet another fuck-up from Cary as a struggling actor. One minute the world is focused on Chase's upcoming fashion line and Pat's new game show, then the next they can't stop talking about, or looking at, Cary's "hole."
It all starts when he attempts to sext anonymously on a dating app, although things go awry before he even presses send. Trying to snap a shot in an airplane bathroom, he accidentally takes a "live" photo that captures his face, and given his minor celebrity status taking internet TV show and red carpet hosting gigs, it goes viral. It's Cary's worst nightmare, and it becomes a publicity blunder when the airline he flew releases a statement condemning his actions. That alone is mortifying for Cary, but then other celebrities start to speak out in support of him—leading to not only the internet embracing him, but a career-defining moment.
Series co-creators, SNL alum Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, actually always knew they were go to go there, and never had any reservations in making Cary's hole the focus of an episode. In fact, Schneider says that they had "Cary sends a hole pic on [their] whiteboard from day one in the [writers] room," even before the show moved from Comedy Central to HBO Max after its first season.
Because Cary has struggled with his identity throughout the show—from missing out on roles for not being "the right kind of gay" in Season 1 to being used by straight actors to queerbait fans and the media in Season 2—the story sees him face his discomfort with himself head-on. The writers, of course, did that in "the most absurd/humiliating way for him" that they could think of.
"He has had trouble in his career for both of these seasons because he hasn't really been comfortable in himself and, specifically, who he is as a gay man," says Schneider. "We really liked the idea that finally coming to terms of [his] sexuality would eventually help him out career-wise."
By the time the photo blows up, the movie that would have been Cary's first starring role, Night Nurse, had been canceled. That hasn't been publicly announced yet, though, which just adds to his embarrassment—especially as celebrities like Bowen Yang and Busy Phillips start to come out in support of his "hole pic" and vouch to buy out theaters once the movie is released.
"We had so many conversations about [what celebrities should speak out] and what order they should go in." Kelly says. Ultimately, they ended up being both people they're fans of, and "people when you saw their names, you're like I could see them doing that," says Kelly. "We also wanted it to build to a place that it would perfectly humiliate and frustrate Cary. So once it gets to the point of Julianne Moore, it's like, 'I, Cary, want to work with her. I had dreams as a child of one day meeting her on set and being her peer. And now she's seen my hole before my face. What the fuck?'" But thanks in part to Julianne, Night Nurse is back on, and Cary ends with a win in his corner that feels fitting to his awkward, self-loathing character.
The finale isn't just about Cary's butthole, though. His sister, Brooke, also finally makes career moves when a chance encounter lands her the opportunity to be pop star Alessia Cara's new manager. It's the ultimate pay-off from a season-long bit, as Brooke has been desperate to meet Alessia at every industry event. Schneider says they had wanted it to be the singer all along.
"We shot with Alessia as early as physically possible so that we felt comfortable doing the rest of the scenes where [Brooke] was casually mentioning her. She was game and great, and so funny on the day." When she does finally make an appearance, it's only because Brooke, who has been lying about working "in the industry" while in LA, injures her mouth in her hotel sauna and another guest finds a woman who said she was "a dentist" (aka Alessia, also incognito). "We have a lot of celebrity cameos on our show and sometimes it's really hard to find someone that's right for the plot, who's willing to do it, who's schedule works out, and would fly in a pandemic. So with [Alessia], all of those things just happened to fall into place all miraculously, and we felt really lucky that she could do it."
The finale also makes a point to turn to the other other two, Chase and Pat. Just as Brooke and Cary get a taste of success, it becomes all that they can think about—so much so that they ignore how overwhelmed their family is, which culminates in Chase as anger and exhaustion in Pat. Since the show is from the perspective of Brooke and Cary, it was another idea the writers had early on because, as Kelly says, zeroing in on Chase and Pam "was a good way to see, 'Oh yeah, they've been thinking this shit all along.'" Throughout Season 2, Kelly says Brooke and Cary have been "trying to get their own footing that they didn't stop to think about their mother and their brother and what they could be going through."
The season ends with the Dubeks in a better place—everyone having cleared the air and deciding to take a vacation together for some much-needed R&R. That is, everybody except Cary, who forgoes the trip because he's committed to finally focusing on his dream and making it to the first table read of Night Nurse. The show expertly throws one final, shocking laugh at us, though, as its built-in news program The Gay News announces Cary is headed to set on none other than March 2020, right at the onset of the pandemic.
What that means for the confirmed upcoming third season, Kelly and Schneider aren't so sure. They were sure, though, that the show—which is one of the smartest looks at the entertainment industry on TV today—is rooted in reality and that the pandemic has altered pop culture in such a way that it couldn't be ignored.
"It doesn't necessarily mean that his movie isn't happening," Kelly said. "Maybe it will, maybe it won't, maybe it will happen differently than you thought it would. That's sort of the crux of our show: It's like you get your dream and it's not what you thought, or there's no wins, there's no loss. It's usually somewhere in between." Sexting scandals and global pandemics definitely don't seem like they were written in Brooke or Cary's fame playbook, but thankfully the word-of-mouth success of the comedy means we'll get to keep seeing whatever "somewhere in between" their dreams do land.