The Other Two has been having a fantastic third season. It’s as gay as ever, with the theater experience ‘8 Gay Men With AIDS’. There’s Pat’s rise to the echelon of the idle and over-sheltered rich. There’s more shirtless Josh Segarra than we could’ve hoped for. As zany and hilarious as it’s always been, The Other Two focuses on Cary and Brooke in a new way: as anti-heroes. Brooke and Cary are portrayed as flawed in their ways throughout the show’s run, but season 3 finds striking ways to deepen and explore the flaws we already know.
Helene Yorke’s Brooke is flying high as a manager representing her mother Pat (who now owns a TV network) and her brother Chase (famous despite his singing career lapsing), but she struggles with feelings of inadequacy. She worries that she isn’t doing enough “good” in the world, the sort of high-minded, lofty good she sees done by the likes of her now-fiancé and perfect partner Lance (Segarra). He left the glitzy world of streetwear design behind to become a nurse, whose dabs are the delight of all patients and coworkers who meet him. It seems as if every fame monster and celebrity Brooke knew has turned over the same noble leaf, when she runs into Stephen Cofield Jr’s basketball star Damian Davis (who sued Brooke for violating a post-sex NDA) and Kate Berlant’s “worst person in the industry” Pitzi Pyle both of whom are now nurses at the same hospital as Lance. All three describe their life change as a realization of a desire to “do more” in light of the pandemic. Brooke internalizes this and judges herself for staying a manager in “the industry.” Lance’s new calling in life threatens Brooke with its meaningfulness and sends her spiraling. She leaves her job to “do good” without defining what that means for her. Brooke changes her Instagram bio to read “Black Lives Matter,” and volunteers to plant trees on a New York median strip, but is that “doing good?” And is “doing good” what Brooke wants to do? The superb writing and phenomenal performances ensure that while Brooke repeatedly projects her self-judgments onto Lance to a ridiculous degree and instigates their break-up, it feels natural and organic. Yorke plays Brooke’s emotional journey perfectly, blowing up aspects to make you laugh, but never leaving the very human emotional space she’s in. While bitching about her fight with Lance, Brooke says, “He says I should be honest with my partner. Okay, TED BUNDY.” Yorke plays Brooke as seeming to realize on some level that Lance is right; she’s taking out her own insecurities on others, but she can’t speak that out loud and confirm it yet. Brooke’s character game is usually sailing into a situation, guns blazing with utmost confidence and an abstract idea of what she wants. Seeing Yorke play her growth in a way that feels true and hilarious is a treat.
On the other side of the coin, we have Drew Tarver’s Cary, who experiences a surge in his career and personal life. The film Night Nurse put his name out there and his burgeoning relationship with rising star Lucas Lambert Moy (Finn Argus) are both developments that, on paper, give Cary everything he wants. As is the way of this show, both are somewhat poisoned chalices. Lucas loves the Jared Leto-style Method of inhabiting his characters. Whether playing a teen coming out of the closet, a young man in the ’80s with AIDS, or a closeted man in a Christmas movie, Lucas can’t break character, so not only can Cary not have sex with his boyfriend but he never truly gets to know Lucas. As Lucas’ roles may hint, The Other Two continues to have insights to share about queer representation. The show understands and reflects how despite queerness enjoys more public support, the treatment of queer media is still dubious. Queer characters are defanged to keep them as non-sexual and non-threatening as possible. Enter Disney, with an offer for Cary: voice the new “unapologetically gay” green slime Globby character in the upcoming Haunted Buddies 4. It’s a direct parody of Beauty and the Beast’s “exclusively gay moment” that typifies the disingenuous Disney approach to queer representation. In each situation, Cary very nearly has a breakthrough and begins to reject what’s being offered before being pulled back in. Lucas is nominated for a Tony and Disney’s fantasy of making queer history proves too tempting. Cary has at times swallowed his better judgment and debased himself when fame was dangled before him. This is taken to new levels in season 3. Cary wants to be the face of queer culture, but not only does he not know much about it, he’s not interested in learning. He can’t name Marsha P Johnson in a game of Celebrity, but he knows Ellen, Ben Platt, and Neil Patrick Harris, a character detail I could write a dissertation about called “White Gay Blindness.” He condescends to his (only?) friend Curtis, spurning their friendship to engage in Disney press junkets. Curtis is experiencing success himself, landing a sitcom role that both he and Cary auditioned for. Cary, perhaps too comfy when Curtis had his old gig on ‘The Gay Minute,’ lashes out at Curtis in backhanded ways to balm his ego. All hail Tarver whose mad dash through an active set stripping off and tripping on his clothes as he tries to intercept Lucas while he’s briefly in character as a porn star is one of the best pieces of physical comedy I’ve ever seen.
Brooke and Cary aren’t monsters by any means; their darker sides have just been emphasized anew. They both hurt people who love them and are emotionally dishonest with themselves in believable, recognizable ways. There’s lots of time left in this season for them to work it all out, but so far, I’ve loved this anti-hero arc.
The Other Two airs weekly on Max.
Chris Revelle shouts into the media void with his pals on Why Did We Watch This?