‘The Other Two’ Bosses on Cary’s Movie, the Variety Shout Out and ‘Gossip Girl’ Cameo in Season 2

Drew Tarver, Helene Yorke in 'The
Greg Endries

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched “Pat Becomes #1 in Daytime,” the sixth episode of “The Other Two” Season 2.

Right out of the gate, the second season of “The Other Two” expanded the fame within the Dubek family to include matriarch Pat (Molly Shannon) in addition to youngest child Chase (Case Walker). But the sixth episode, titled “Pat Becomes #1 in Daytime,” also saw major advancements for the titular other two siblings, Cary (Drew Tarver), who finally got an agent to send him real acting auditions, and Brooke (Heléne Yorke), who was named one of Variety‘s “30 Under 30.”

(Variety had no knowledge of this plotline during production on the HBO Max comedy, but now that the episode is out, for the record our annual survey of up-and-comers to watch is called “New Leaders.”)

“When we started talking about this season — and we knew Pat, their mom, was going to be famous this season — Chris [Kelly] and I, just as writers, were like, ‘We just don’t think these characters would have another full season of business as usual being the other two, feeling like losers.’ They would now be galvanized in the second season, the way that Chris and I were, to tell different stories, find a little bit of footing in their lives, to find a little bit of their own success,” co-creator and co-showrunner Sarah Schneider tells Variety. “It was all about finding new ways for them to feel left behind or like an imposter or have new goals now that they’ve reached that first level. They’re still comparing themselves to the world around them, but in this new phase.”

Here, Schneider and co-creator and co-showrunner Chris Kelly talk with Variety about selecting us for such a spotlight moment in the episode, as well as what to expect for the back half of the season.

It seems like things are finally, truly looking up for Cary and Brooke now, so how do you strike the balance of how big their accomplishments can be, given that they are still the titular other two in their brother’s — and now their mother’s — shadow?

Chris Kelly: It’s weird because it’s never full succeeding or full failing, and so I think that’s why we’d never really run out of stories to tell. There’s never going to be, at the end of Season 3, they make it and they win — because there is no such thing as making it and winning. It’s all like perspective. And so, that’s a little bit of what we’re playing with in the back half of the season — that idea of getting a win and then being like, “Is it enough of a win?” In Episode 7, this agent does get [Cary] a movie, but it’s not like, “And now I’m a movie star!”

Sarah Schneider: We always joke that if something good happens in the first act of our show, it ain’t good.

Kelly: It’s finding the little gradations within wins or in losses. So in the back half of the season, Brooke does start to get things. She starts the season pretending to be a manager and throughout the season is actually a manager. And so, what happens when the way you want the world to look at you, the world does start to look at you that way? I don’t think you realize this thing you keep saying you want, you have. We always come it from that drama of the thing you feel as you start to get a little bit of success and then, what’s a good event to put them at where things can happen that can exacerbate that?

It certainly seems like that is happening for Pat as well right now. How do you approach whether she, or even Chase, has to stay in the spotlight once they’ve made it there?

Kelly: We come at the title in different ways, so what does it feel to feel “other”? You see a little bit in Episode 6 that Pat desperately wants to see her children and so she feels a little left out. So, we try to find new ways to hopefully not repeat ourselves, and it’s like a see-saw in the second season where Pat and Chase have it all, but it’s a little exhausting and not exactly what they want.

Schneider: And Brooke and Cary see them and assume they’ve reached the quote-unquote end, like we were talking about, and then we start to show what the end looks like in the day to day and the grass is always greener.

How specifically are you pulling from your own experiences within the industry for such moments, or moments where Cary is struggling to write, for example?

Schneider: That was easiest thing to write, a montage of how hard it is to write.

Kelly: That’s definitely a good one. That’s based on a friend who is a great actor and she went to a new agent, and the agent was like, “Do you also write? You should write a web series starring yourself to show that you’re not just an actor.” And it’s like, “Why do I need to be a writer to be an actor?” We just thought that was a funny thing that sounds like bullshit and then revealing that it is actual, literal bullshit when he pretends to write and [the agent] pretends to read was funny to us.

Schneider: It was Chris fully trolling himself when Cary was on the bridge writing in his little notebook.

Kelly: When he was working on the screenplay about being gay with a mean dad, that was, unfortunately, the very rude plot of my own movie that I wrote. But there are also things where you aspire to do something and then you’re there, and the very fact that you got to be there changes the equilibrium. People are looking at me as if I’m someone, so are they not someone? You always wanted to get to the mountaintop, but then you’re on one of the peaks and you’re like, “Well I shouldn’t be allowed to be here, so is this not as cool as I thought it was?”

Which seems the perfect lead-in to talk about the Variety feature and party in Episode 6. What made you pick us?

Schneider: It felt the cleanest, saying, “Variety‘s 30 Under 30″ on the tongue.

Kelly: In Episode 7 Cary gets a movie and he’s equally excited about being in the movie as he is that he has a Deadline article. That is such an indication to all of us that it’s real. And that is a little bit how Variety sounds, too. Being in Variety, it felt like Brooke would feel, “Wow, I made it.” It’s a good signifier — a helpful, real thing that made it legitimate.

You guys threw out a lot of names for people who made the list and had a cameo from Tavi Gevinson, the timing of which felt perfect because of “Gossip Girl,” but you guys have been working on this season for so long due to the pandemic pause, so what is the process to make sure the references and appearances still hit how you want months later?

Kelly: For someone like Tavi, we went out to her because we were fans of her and she lives in New York and was the right age, and she was down, so we lucked out.

Schneider: That was a very short grouping of people that it even could be because it had to be someone in New York, someone who was the right age. We wanted it to be a woman, we wanted it to be an actor. So we were pigeonholed for story in a way that’s sometimes really tricky, but we like to have people in the real world because it just legitimizes it so much. Brooke feeling jealous or second fiddle to a fake celebrity doesn’t have the same power.

Kelly: After the year we were off, we opened our scripts back up again and had a true panic meltdown being like, “This is irrelevant! There’s an episode that takes place in a hospital and we can’t be in a hospital now!” And then it was like, “No, let’s just do the show we wrote. We wrote it in 2019, so there was some of the [timeliness] concern, but it’s by and large pretty much the show we wrote. We shot four episodes before we shut down [due to the COVID-19 pandemic] and we had shot a little bit out of order, so story-wise we couldn’t really change anything because it’s so serialized. But we also try not to write any joke that’s too time-specific. We try to do something in the ether in the year, like celebrity churches are a thing — ish — but it’s not one specific story, so we have a little bit of wiggle room.

Chase’s arc of rebranding seems to fit this, too. He’s asking to sing again, though, so will he?

Schneider: He’s a singer who doesn’t need to sing anymore, like Rihanna. Singing is such a small part of what any extremely successful singer does; it’s more about building your empire and branding and stuff. And we liked that idea so much, but we were a little sad because we originally pitched the show so we could like write more music videos — we loved doing that on “SNL,” It was one of our favorite parts of the first season, so we were like, “Oh man, we don’t get to do that? And we did this to ourselves!” But this season he pivots to a new piece of an empire in a way that was fun to brainstorm and juggle and pull out different parts of what this young kid would be doing from culture. But yeah, in his heart of hearts, he’s a singer and he wants to sing, but everyone around him knows he can’t go back to that so it’s like this machine around him, just propping up a vessel with no substance. And there is a sadness in that because the two shall never meet — his desire and his talent.

But so far his desire isn’t outweighing his respect for what everyone else wants from him. It’s not like he’s going rogue and making new music on social media.

Schneider: Basically it’s his sister who’s in charge of him and she joined the team to protect him. It’s coming from a good place, and so he does have this trust in her, but it’s just this simmering want that will certainly start to go somewhere.

Kelly: He’s starting to ask for a reason.

His new fashion line with Lance (Josh Segarra) sounds like it will keep him busy for a while, though. Lance has had such a rich off-screen life. How did you decide how much Lance was enough for this season and why did you want to keep so much of his success off-screen?

Kelly: Well, you just watched Episode 6 so it is safe to say he’s back now for the rest of the season. But it was tricky because we wanted him back in the show as much as possible because we love the actor so much, but for story it made sense for him to go away for a little bit. We needed to think he was gone; we needed Brooke to be like, “I wanted to get back with you at the end of last season, you said no, I’m not going to be a dumb ass; I’m not going to fall into traps.” So the first half of the season is a lot about, “Hey girl, you wanted to be a manager, this is what it’s like: you don’t really get to go to fun events — you’re outside of them. You don’t have a personal life — you can’t really date, you don’t have a lot of friends.” We wanted to get her to her lowest so then it was nice and sweet that when she was in a bad mood at “30 Under 30” he would be at her table. When she needed a friend the most, he would reappear and be her friend — because in the first episode she says, “I don’t want to be your friend and I don’t need friends” and it’s clear she does in Episode 6.

And hopefully going forward we will see his hoodie that is also a sleeping bag because we all need one after a year and a half of a pandemic.

Kelly: You will see some clothes from Lance!

“The Other Two” streams new episodes Thursdays on HBO Max.