“You’re my only brother, except for those other ones,” Dale Baskets says in a heated talk with his brother Chip in the explosive fifth episode of the show Baskets’ second season. The scene depicts a funny, bizarre and emotionally poignant heart-to-heart between twin brothers, both of whom Zach Galifianakis portrays.
Baskets returns to FX for a third season starting January 23rd.
Playing twins is not a new Hollywood challenge——its been explored by a range of performances that stretches all the way from Nicholas Cage in Adaptation to Lindsey Lohan in Parent Trap to Armie Hammer in The Social Network. There are also a number of other stars taking on two characters on the same show, and championing it today. Ewan McGregor just won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Mini-Series for playing twins on Fargo, James Franco had an excellent first season playing Vincent and Frankie Martino on David Simon’s enthralling project The Deuce, and J.K. Simmons is playing two characters (who won’t quite be twins) in a highly anticipated Starz drama named Counterpart premiering later this month.
So, with all this stiff competition, how does the often-goofy Galifianakis play a pair of characters who are as compelling and entertaining as any of these other duos?
He simply does it with exceptional performances depicting a pair of guys whose parallels to true human personality types are written with a moving balance of humor and honesty. Their comedy begins with their names——Chip & Dale——and their relationship with their mother Christine——depicted by an Emmy award-winning performance from Louie Anderson. In the first season, we spent more time with Chip, whose clownish struggle to be a clown is the crux of the show’s thematic exploration of American naivety and an outsider’s passion. After cheating his way out of his home and marriage, Dale’s personal struggles come to a head in season two, where he implodes with a mimosa bender and a breakdown that leaves his mother’s house in shambles.
In addition to the twins’ bizarre features——which help the show utilize artful imagery, and slapstick humor with the best of them——they also find laughs, tears, and hard-hitting notes of humanity by struggling with social awkwardness, out of control egos, and the constant embarrassment of how much each of them really needs their mother. These are common struggles amplified by outlandish personalities, helping a wide range of viewers connect with their stumbling delusions.
There are a ton of moments where Galifianakis strikes truth and beauty by exploring all the corners of these strong-willed and brazen twins’ respective imaginations. And if you’re unfamiliar, you can catch up on Hulu before the season three premiere on FX on January 23rd. .