The comedy from Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider moves to HBO Max for its blithely hilarious second season.
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One of the (many) downsides of the peak streamer era is that viewers understandably have a finite appetite for subscription fees, so wonderful shows can get lost, especially if they're on fringe platforms. (See: Ultra City Smiths on AMC+, or We Are Lady Parts and Dr. Death on Peacock.) But one of the (many) upsides of the peak streamer era is that whenever a wonderful show is getting lost on its original network, there's a decent chance it'll be rescued by a content-hungry streamer: Netflix saved YOU from Lifetime obscurity. Hulu saved The Mindy Project from Fox's comedy dustbin. And now HBO Max has saved The Other Two — the exceptionally funny showbiz satire which last aired on Comedy Central in March 2019, where it will fit right in with the streamer's other sharp comedy gems, Search Party (saved from TBS!) and Hacks.

A lot has changed since we last saw the Dubek family — and technically, things are going great. Aspiring actor Cary (Drew Tarver) is working non-stop... but all his gigs are hosting online celeb news series like Bagel Bites TV and The Gay Minute. His mom, Pat (Molly Shannon), hosts a wildly successful daytime talk show and is idolized by viewers around the country... but she also has no life, nor does her music-manager daughter, Brooke (Heléne Yorke). Pat's youngest, former global singing sensation Chase Dreams (Case Walker), enters NYU with hopes of being a "normal kid"... only to discover that no one may ever see him that way again.

The Other Two
Drew Tarver, Case Walker, and Heléne Yorke on 'The Other Two'
| Credit: HBO Max

HBO Max will drop two episodes per week beginning Aug. 26. The half-hours play out like comedy nesting dolls, with jokes within jokes within jokes (a chyron on an Extra broadcast that reads "Chase Dreams on NYU: 'It's short for New York University'"; Ian Ziering pops up for a hilarious bit that ends with a plug for his next Syfy film, Frogpocalypse Now). The Other Two parodies the hypocrisy and inanity of the modern entertainment industry with blithe brilliance, and if a joke about an A24 biopic of Matthew Shepard starring Dave Franco seems too inside — well, creators Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider know that we live in a culture where everyone is all but forced to know everything about even the most fringe aspects of entertainment. Like it or not, we're all insiders.

The savage humor is tempered by the underlying sweetness of its characters. After watching the six episodes made available for review, my only quibble is that we don't get enough together time with the Dubek clan. The family is at their best when they remember that they have each other — and Brooke's effusively supportive ex, Lance (Josh Segarra, sublimely ridiculous) — to lean on. True, Cary and Brooke have their own things going on: After grappling with his sexuality for years, Cary is finally letting himself enjoy the dating scene. Brooke, meanwhile, is growing into her latest career and beginning to develop self-confidence rather than relying on outside sources for approval. Still, as self-involved as the titular other two can be, it feels a little off that neither of them would notice how Pat is starting to crack under the punishing weight of her work schedule. And with Pat so busy, there's not much for Ken Marino's Streeter to do in the first half of the season, beyond fretting over his own potential obsolescence as a manager.

But I'm not worried, because everything else about The Other Two remains a total delight. There are well-timed callbacks to season one, a giant cardboard check with the words "Being Gay" written in the memo, and a scene where Wanda Sykes (as Shuli, the exec from Chase's record label) fills Brooke in on "the newest Hadid." This is a show by entertainment obsessives for entertainment obsessives, one that never fails to remind us that celebrity is nothing more than a social construct. Grade: A-

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