×

‘The Other Two’ Bosses on Justin Bieber as Inspiration for New Comedy Central Show

After Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider’s tenure at “Saturday Night Live,” where they became the show’s youngest co-head writers and wrote music videos like the instant hit “(Do It On My) Twin Bed,” the two headed to Comedy Central to do more “big dumb broad stuff and make fun of pop culture,” says Kelly.

Their new comedy series, “The Other Two,” premieres Jan. 24 and follows two siblings (played by Drew Tarver and Heléne Yorke) who have to reexamine their own lives when their teenage brother becomes a pop sensation and dubs himself Chase Dreams.

Here, Variety speaks with the co-showrunners about teen influencers’ empires, their stacked cast including Molly Shannon, their time at “SNL” and making a comedy series that still has heart.

How did you guys conceive the show?

Kelly: We wanted to tell grounded stories with characters that we related to, that felt like versions of us, or had gone through things that we had gone through in our lives. But then we also wanted to also have our cake and eat it too and do big dumb broad stuff and make fun of pop culture and be at fun events and do music videos. So this premise allowed us to do both.

There’s a scene involving eggs that was inspired by your own interaction with Justin Bieber’s manager at “SNL.” How much of Bieber or real pop stars do you draw from on the show?

Kelly: That specific one-liner, we stole that. Other than that exact specific, we don’t really think that [young pop star] Chase Dreams is supposed to be like Justin Bieber or his manager is supposed to be Scooter Braun. That egg joke made us think about like, “Oh poor Justin Bieber.” He is one boy that an entire team of people is moving around the world and telling him what to do and when to eat and what to wear, so that got our brains churning. So we put that into the show a little bit. In the pilot he’s a sweet kid and then from that day on he never makes a single decision himself.

How much did you want to use this show to comment on the entertainment industry, such as the sexualization of teen stars?

Kelly: Watching any pop culture celebrity or any celebrity, you can see their phases as an artist, and you can tell there’s a team behind that. So we do that in the show, where it’s like: He’s sweet now. Now he’s doing a socially conscious song. Now he’s sexy. Now he’s a bad boy. Now he’s religious.

Schneider: It almost never feels authentic, it always feels like “Okay, well the response we’re getting from people is that you’re a little too risque now, so we should pull it back.” Or Taylor Swift’s songs are all about being in love and breakups, so that’s what I have to do, even though I’m 9-years-old and that’s a completely foreign concept, where I’m emulating these adult ideas. It’s really fascinating.

Have you watched musical.ly or TikTok videos for research?

Schneider: Yeah … we definitely deep dove into it.

Kelly: We wanted to make fun of it a little bit, but we also wanted to legitimize it. There is a full parallel entertainment industry of people that we’ve never heard of and they’ve never heard of us, but they have millions of followers. A lot of them have empires; they have a brand. We like showing both sides, that that world is insane and dumb and crazy. But we also think it’s insane and dumb and crazy because we’re old and don’t understand it.

Beyond satire, how deeply do you explore heavier things such as both adult siblings’ struggling careers?

Kelly: If Chase wasn’t in the show, all of these characters would still be having to go through the same things — like Cary [Tarver] would still be trying to figure out his identity. We just added this dumb pop culture celebrity fame on top of it, like how would these real dramas change because he’s famous? Chase in Episode 4 releases a song about Cary being gay and it’s just called “My Brother’s Gay And That’s OK” and he says Cary’s full name, he says “My brother Cary Dubek is gay.” That song forces him to deal with things that he had never really dealt with, faster.

Is it a relief not to talk politics on this show, versus on “SNL”?

Schneider: We went into it consciously with that thought, but we also loved writing stuff that just felt topical and political in a completely different way and so we couldn’t help ourselves with bringing up some things that felt timely, about sexuality, about identity.

Is there any pressure that comes with doing your first show together, post “SNL”?

Kelly: I don’t think about pressure so much as — this is going to be cheesy, but I just really trust Sarah and I think she trusts me. So all we can do is be like, “We like this and we think it’s good.” I hope people like it but we try not to get bogged down with expectations or anything like that.

How integral is former “SNL” cast member Molly Shannon, who plays the siblings’ mother, to the show and the process?

Schneider: She’s the best. She was so fun to work with. It’s very rare that you work with someone, who could be like such an a–hole based on their talent level, and isn’t.

Kelly: When you are casting a TV show it’s a little different than a movie because if this goes on for a couple of years, you really want the people you’re casting to be good actors, but you also want to want to see them at work. We’ve been very lucky that everyone in the show is so good and also like, a nice human.

More TV

  • Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce Writers

    Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce First Class of Writers and Mentors for TV Incubator

    Rideback, Dan Lin’s production company, and MRC have announced the inaugural class of writers and mentors for their TV incubator.  The new TV writers residency program, which was launched in February, offers a paid, eight-month residency program to a group of writers who have each previously been staffed on series and want to create their [...]

  • CBS Viacom

    CBS and Viacom Move Closer to Merger Talks

    The CBS Corp. board of directors is moving closer to initiating acquisition discussions with Viacom, according to multiple sources close to the situation. The move has been expected for months, although there may still be obstacles on the road to a reunion for the two sides of the Redstone media empire. Price could still be [...]

  • Santa Fe Studios Netflix

    Santa Fe Studios Competes With Other New Mexico Stages for Streaming Business

    Albuquerque Studios entered the spotlight last October when it was purchased by Netflix. While the complex is clearly the jewel in the crown of New Mexico’s production infrastructure, with eight soundstages totaling 132,000 square feet, 100,000 square feet of production offices, a large backlot and support space, it’s not the only modern studio facility in [...]

  • Wahlburgers

    'Wahlburgers' Renewed for 10th and Final Season at A&E

    A&E has renewed “Wahlburgers” for a 10th and final season. The reality series following brothers Mark, Donnie and Paul Wahlberg will debut the new installment at on May 15. A&E has also released a trailer for the season. Season 10 will continue to focus on the Wahlberg brothers as they balance family and their eponymous [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    From 'Game of Thrones' to 'Big Bang Theory,' Spinoffs Will Keep the Hits Alive

    By this time next year, many of the brightest lights in the current TV universe will cease to shine. Some of the most popular and acclaimed shows are set to air their swan songs this year and during the 2019-20 broadcast season. While programs come and go all the time, the sheer number of iconic [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    TV Ratings: Jussie Smollett's Final Episode of 'Empire' Season 5 Goes Low

    Last night, Jussie Smollett’s final episode of “Empire” season 5, and potentially his last episode on the show ever, went up in the ratings from previous weeks, but still posted low figures for the series. The episode, in which Smollett’s character Jamal Lyon tied the knot in TV’s first-ever black, gay wedding, returned a 1.1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content