The Other Two
Cary’s internal struggle with his homosexuality, which has been bubbling beneath the surface of the first few episodes of The Other Two, finally comes to a rolling boil in “Chase Gets the Gays.” Thankfully, this conflict comes to a head because of a new Chase Dreams song that goes viral the second it hits the internet. It was about time this show gave us a new song, as Chase famously only had one to date, and boy, does it deliver. The video — a shrine to a young, and very blond, Drew Tarver — delivers an incredible amount of laughs and represents the show in top form.
We’ve previously gotten hints of Cary’s relationship with his sexuality through the near-constant stream of microaggressions he’s faced. At first it was mostly Streeter referring to him as “gay brother,” even after having learned Brooke’s name, and introducing him to Shuli in the same vein. The topic was broached at the When in Gnome premiere as well, first by his agent asking him specifically to give a “straighter” read, then through Cary’s internalization of this kind of critique, and finally through the resulting shame when he denies it happened. Over just three episodes, The Other Two has clearly telegraphed Cary’s negative associations with his gayness.
So this is where we are when we first hear “My Brother’s Gay,” an ode to Cary’s sexual preferences; even his smallest wince is acutely felt. Throughout the episode, Cary deals with the fallout from this song, all while sporting an unfortunate pair of pajamas that expose his penis with the slightest movement. Based on what we’ve seen thus far, it’s no surprise that his first reaction is to demand Chase’s team take the video down. Streeter is conspicuously absent from this episode (as is Chase and their mother), but Shuli steps up to take his place as the primary high-strung opportunist exploiting Chase’s fame.
Cary’s tune begins to change, however, when he’s contacted by Pitsy Pyle (played by comedy empress Kate Berlant), an agent for a CAA–type agency. Although their meeting is ostensibly about growing Cary’s career as a living meme, the subtext offers much more. Pitsy, with her bright pink power suit and chevron-printed wallpaper, represents the kind of girl who worships at the altar of a TBS edit of Sex and the City, seeing gay men as accessories at best and pets at worst. Right off the bat she calls him a “faggot,” a slur she not only deploys with distressing frequency but also clearly relishes in saying, punctuating every syllable and putting it in places where it doesn’t belong (“ASAPF”). This is the world Cary has been conditioned to hate himself in, one where people who are distinctly not a part of his community feel free to use hateful language, where people jump at the opportunity to inform him that they know a gay person, as if that reflects anything other than that they live on planet Earth.
It’s impressive that in the midst of all this commentary, the show still manages to be legitimately funny. We’re always laughing with Cary at the ridiculousness of these statements, rather than at any aspect of his sexuality. I mean, the eye-roll! Kate Berlant, step on my neck.
With such overt shaming, it’s no surprise that Cary swings back to the take-down-this-video-immediately camp. Of course, this is short-lived once he’s approached by a sweet, demure man on the street who thanks Cary for giving him the strength to come out to his mother. Even though this is satisfying enough for Cary to change his mind again, it’s representative of yet another aspect of the struggle for gay acceptance. Cary’s initial reaction to the video was humiliation (and probably not entirely couched in his complex feelings regarding his sexuality), and yet because many gay men still feel starved for representation, he must carry the burden of becoming a de facto symbol for the entire community.
At this point, Cary has reached his emotional bandwidth. He’s a reluctant icon for the gay community grappling with his own feelings of shame and repression. So of course while he’s in this vulnerable state, his roommate slams him against the wall, removes his towel, and proceeds to perform oral sex on him. This is a new step in their relationship (one in which Cary is the recipient), but Cary’s a different man today than he was yesterday. He’s a gay icon! And in this way, the video finally liberates him. If the small man on the street could derive strength from Cary, he can certainly find it within himself. He finally sets a boundary with his roommate, confessing his feelings and calling him out on whatever confusing sexual games he’s playing.
His final beat in this journey isn’t as triumphant as his post-oral masturbation, unfortunately. In the first scene this episode in which the Dreams siblings are not wearing day-old pajamas, Cary runs into an old castmate at a gay bar that Brooke frequents despite not being welcome. After pleasantries and an invitation to dinner, Cary’s newfound confidence prompts him to ask why it took so long. Whether it’s out of habit or a surfacing superego, his “thanks” to the statement, “I didn’t know you were gay” turns off his potential love interest. Despite his new liberation, he still has 20-some years of conditioning to unlearn. Realizing the depth of the work yet to come, he admits to Brooke “I’m kind of fucked up” to the swelling tune of what I can only assume is a Steve Aoki remix of “My Brother’s Gay.”
The Other Two Cents
• Luckily for me and all fans of good comedy, The Other Two was just renewed for a second season! More songs, more spectacular embarrassment, more Molly Shannon! Bless the comedy gods.
• Whew, what a week! I didn’t even mention Brooke’s subplot, which retreads a lot of familiar sitcom tropes but gives us a few inspired parts, particularly Pink’s assistant and committing Chase to attending a middle school dance as an aggrieved 13-year-old girl’s date.
• We also learn something else about their father: Chase thinks that he died from cancer, but that’s not the case. This feels ominous to me, and I need more information.
• “It was a little dry. Kind of like a turtle eating a carrot”
• Among the universe’s pop-culture reactions to Chase’s new video: the AV Club says it’s “no Moonlight,” Tammy Lorazepam calls it an “affront to family values,” Countess Luanne posts an emotional response video.
• “Pink doesn’t do bad optics. She does near-constant aerial gymnastics,” is both a fantastic line and a fantastic reading of it.
• “Are you from that music video?” “Yeah, but I’d love to do a miniseries like Fargo or something.”
• In every scene this week, Drew Tarver’s face vacillates between looking like he just smelled something unfathomably bad and like he’s cautiously experiencing joy for the first time.
• The framed print behind Pitsy’s desk that reads “It’s getting haute in here” is just one of the many set details that have really elevated the show and lent characters with few lines (or none, like Justin Theroux last week) complex interior lives.