'The Other Two' Was Too Good To Last

Ending with allegations of on-set toxic behavior in its wake, the brilliant Hollywood satire is a reminder that absolute morality is a myth.
"The Other Two" ultimately showed how the desire for righteousness is often contingent on how it will make us look — not the actual act of being righteous.
"The Other Two" ultimately showed how the desire for righteousness is often contingent on how it will make us look — not the actual act of being righteous.
Greg Endries/Max

It’s kind of fitting that you’re reading this in the wake of reports that there have been HR complaints against Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly, the mastermind creators of Max’s “The Other Two,” and that the brilliant Hollywood satire has been canceled.

Because the pair, who also serve as showrunners, concluded their series with a sneakily acute storyline that proves that goodness, as the bombastic way it’s often defined today, is actually unachievable. This isn’t to offer lenience to Schneider and Kelly over the allegations of toxic behavior, of which they’ve both reportedly been cleared. (Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that staff complaints of verbal abuse and being overworked were not related to the cancellation after Season 3.)

Rather, this is to suggest that absolute goodness is a myth. And that Brooke and Cary (Heléne Yorke and Drew Tarver), the deeply flawed siblings at the center of “The Other Two,” exemplify throughout the show’s third and final season how the desire for righteousness is often contingent on how it will make us look — not the actual act of being righteous.

That’s a cynical perspective on a subject that has been ruthlessly dissected in today’s hyper self-moralistic culture. But “The Other Two” depicts it so well and lightheartedly that you can’t help but smile at the bleak truth behind it.

The season’s fictional story begins amid the real-life pandemic, right around when social media users were posting about all the positive changes they planned to make in their lives, and Brooke’s already super-nice boyfriend, Lance (Josh Segarra), had, of course, become a nurse.

Being a good person has never really been a priority for Brooke (Heléne Yorke). But she is nothing without her obsessive need to be admired by a bunch of strangers.
Being a good person has never really been a priority for Brooke (Heléne Yorke). But she is nothing without her obsessive need to be admired by a bunch of strangers.
Greg Endries/Max

As fans of the series know, being a good person has never really been a priority for Brooke. But Brooke would be the type of person who would manically descend down a path to goodness because that has now become as important as any social currency — and she is nothing without her need to be admired by a bunch of strangers.

And that’s exactly what she does. First, she quits her job as her pop star brother Chase’s (Case Walker) co-manager. She tells herself she wants to find a more meaningful career. But then she can’t really pull herself away from Hollywood because (1) wanting to be part of the Hollywood “in crowd” is about half of her personality and (2) she doesn’t have any other employable skills.

So, Brooke is drawn back into the Hollywood game and returns as Chase’s manager. But she’s determined to do something worthy in the position and decides to help turn Chase into a spokesperson for mental health when he says, as merely an aside, that he is a bit anxious about his rabid fanbase.

Never mind that, as it cheekily says in the dialogue, he’s only had anxiety for a few days. He is very passionate about it because Brooke tells him to be. And this is her chance to look good.

She goes as far to helm a telethon in Episode 7, aptly titled “Brooke Hosts a Night of Undeniable Good,” that encompasses a series of problematic things. Those include a homophobic sponsor, a Parkland survivor with Covid and locking the Covid marshal in a broom closet in order to see her night of good through to the end.

Lance (Josh Segarra), the good one, isn't actually good.
Lance (Josh Segarra), the good one, isn't actually good.
Greg Endries/Max

Despite all the odds, and there are odds aplenty, Brooke actually gets nominated for a Peabody Award for all her effort. Is she now good? That’s the kind of question that chronically online folks seem to argue about every time a celeb fave does something unsavory only to do something marginally good the following week. There is no real answer.

And that’s what “The Other Two” has known all along. A moral compass is impossible to determine on a show that has always planted each of its main characters in the gray area of morality.

That includes the wonderful Lance, who finally dumped Brooke earlier in the season and — on top of his professional altruism — has now been named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive. For the audience, it makes total sense that Lance would land the very popular magazine cover. He’s handsome, he’s nice and, most important, he’s always been good.

But he’s on the wrong show. No one is absolutely good on “The Other Two.” It’s a show that is keenly aware that most of us are at least a half dozen exits away from actually being good.

And that scale swings from teen idol Chase exploiting mental health to Brooke hosting a night of “good” that is anything but, and their mom, Pat (Molly Shannon), shading her boring suburban friends on the internet while being known as the nicest personality on morning TV.

Remind you of anyone real?

Even Pat (Molly Shannon), one of the nicest women on morning TV, can also be detestable at the same time.
Even Pat (Molly Shannon), one of the nicest women on morning TV, can also be detestable at the same time.
Greg Endries

One of the sharpest things about Schneider and Kelly’s show was that it is extremely cognizant of the fact that even at our best, we can be at our moral rock bottom. That reason alone made it an even more pointed satire about Hollywood.

Take, for example, Brooke learning about her Peabody acclaim moments after she accidentally set her now ex-boyfriend’s apartment building on fire looking for evidence that he hired a publicist to land the People cover. Not because that is something he’d totally do but because that’s what he needs to have done in order for her to feel better about herself.

Brooke finds no proof, of course, but her narcissism still gets a boost with the Peabody call.

Celebrities are certainly not the only ones capable of embodying multiple sides of morality at once. But they are the ones who get the most attention for it.

Just look at Lance, the good one. While Brooke didn’t find any proof that his People title was a fraud, he admits to Brooke that he did in fact hire a publicist in the series finale. Because, as he puts it, magazines like People aren’t looking for hot nurses to feature, no matter how good and necessary they are in society. They’re looking for celebrities. And they carve whatever story around that.

It kind of makes you wonder how many real-life celebrities have done the same thing as Lance…

Brooke and Lance realize by the end of "The Other Two" that their goodness has been fraudulent the whole time. And they make peace with it.
Brooke and Lance realize by the end of "The Other Two" that their goodness has been fraudulent the whole time. And they make peace with it.
Greg Endries/Max

The quote “We’re bullshit,” spewed by the morally bankrupt Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) on the series finale of Max’s other show “Succession,” comes to mind.

The moment has nothing in common with any storyline on “The Other Two,” but the “Succession” quote does share the same feeling at the end when Brooke and Lance meet on a bench and he tells her the truth she’s been so desperate to validate.

These are two humans whose flaws have both been exposed and who realize that none of the good they do, no matter how hard they try (or pretend to try), actually matters. And that sense of clarity is paramount.

That doesn’t mean either of them should stop trying ― or would have, had the show continued. It’s just important for them, and the viewers, to understand that celebrity clout for doing good is often a hamster wheel.

Though a satire at its core, “The Other Two” has never existed inside a bubble. Its conflicts were real. The characters were deeply human even at their most abhorrent. And in its final season, it gave us deft, laugh-out-loud comedy that even at its most depraved was filled with heart. It was perfect.

But like with many things, that was too good to last.

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