Things are looking up for Drew Tarver’s character Cary Dubek as the The Other Two kicks off its second season on HBOMax. The gay brother to a Justin Bieber–esque teen superstar (and now gay son to a famous talk-show host, played by Molly Shannon), Cary is still on a Sisyphean quest to become a serious actor, but he has at least booked a set of hosting gigs and found himself his first boyfriend, played by theater’s own Gideon Glick. But as the comedy about the pitfalls of fame quickly reveals, that’s definitely not enough to keep Cary satisfied. He and his sister, Brooke (Heléne Yorke), spend the second season clinging to the small amount of success they’ve already gotten while trying to look out for their oblivious mother and brother, and reckoning with aspects of their personal lives they don’t really want to confront.
As Tarver points out, it’s all pretty much a dark family drama at heart, with a bunch of jokes about Cameo and Big Gay Ice Cream layered over the top. Tarver caught up with Vulture over Zoom to discuss Cary’s blindness about his own needs, the time he filmed a How I Met Your Mother spin-off that didn’t happen, and of course that age-old question: Age, net worth, feet?
Cary starts out the season doing host gigs for places like Thrillist, Huffpo, and “Bagel Bites TV.” As someone who works in digital media, it’s all very familiar. What was it like playing that moment in his career?
Delivering things to the camera as a host is just very fun for me as an actor. But I think Cary is, in the first season, dealing with his little brother becoming so famous that it changes his entire atmosphere as a person and being like, Whoa, I want this to slow down for a bit. Brooke kind of convinces him over the season that he could ride this wave. In the second season, he’s trying to throw himself out there. I think, when you’re trying to make it to your dream, sometimes these stops along the way can not quite look like your dream. Throughout the season, he’s getting some legit success, and what does that feel like for Cary? Does it fix him? There’s a thing of moving the goalposts, where you get this thing and then it’s not enough.
There’s an episode where he signs up for Cameo, where it’s sort of a test of how far he will degrade himself for attention.
It’s a strange thing where he is toggling back and forth between I’m better than this and No, I should be okay where I am, and that episode is a fun moment of him doing it for the money and also being like, Oh these people like what I do. They’ll be stoked if I surprised them in person! And of course he’s slapped in the face.
Have you ever been on Cameo?
No. I mean, after filming this episode, I was like, I could use 25 dollars here or there. But 25 dollars may be wishful thinking for me. Am I $12.50? Am I $20? I haven’t been there enough to know the range. I would hope I could get $12 for the full minute, but I don’t know.
The other degrading thing Cary does is host “Age, Net Worth, Feet,” and honestly I was really surprised that you all got Zosia Mamet to show up and play along with that bit.
She was so funny. She just came by and was game and improvising and playing around. To be able to come by and have someone say, “And let me see those little piggies” [the way Cary introduces the foot cam on a red carpet] to you — what a great sport!
You should brace for people starting to ask you “age, net worth, feet.”
I should be ready to have my little piggies out at some point, yeah.
This season also marks a big change for Cary’s love life, where he is suddenly in a relationship with a boyfriend, played by Gideon Glick, and he’s sort of gotten everything he thinks he wants, before realizing it might not actually be the right fit for him. How did you think about playing that arc?
It’s a big thing for Cary this season that he is in his first real relationship. He spent the first season trying to figure himself out, hooking up with his straight roommate, taking four episodes to call him out. He’s not quick to the draw on making sure he has his own self-worth. He’s figuring out, I came out late in life, I’m having this delayed adolescence feeling bubbling up, but I did it. I’m in a regular relationship. I fixed myself. He thinks being with one person and having the perfect cookie-cutter relationship is going to solve all that, but then it starts to unravel.
It’s very funny in the second episode when Cary and his boyfriend try to show Noah Galvin and Tuc Watkins “real” gay life in the city, not realizing that they’re just pretending to be a straight father and gay son and are actually a daddy-and-son gay couple.
I think Cary’s trying to connect to his actual father and trying to be like, “I’m not scary!” and going around to very sanitized gay places. But he involves these strangers. It’s a very funny storyline that has a very dark, sad undertone. What I love about this show is that it has storylines that are inherently dramatic and sad, with funny details laid on top of it.
You started shooting this season just before the pandemic hit New York. What was it like to have to suddenly abandon it and come back a year later?
I think we started in February of 2020. We got a few episodes in, though we kind of shoot out of order. We were in New York and the grocery stores are starting to empty out and you see it on the news. And you’re like, this seems a little crazy. We were shooting scenes where we’re rollerblading in Central Park with one of Pat’s fans, and they were coming up as it happened like, “Law & Order just shut down, FYI.” And we’re like, “Okay,” and then they called action. And then they came in like, “And Riverdale shut down.” And then shortly after, it was like, “Hey, guys, go home for two weeks,” and then it was, “No, it’s gonna be a long time.”
Then, picking it up, there are some scenes where it’s right next to each other, pre- and post-pandemic. You’re like, “The things that man has seen in between! And he’s also a little puffier!”
The script supervisors must have been working overtime.
They were like, “Remember, in the scene before this, you weren’t weary from life.”
Did they rewrite much of the season during the pandemic?
No, the scripts were written, and they didn’t change hardly anything. On HBOMax, they were adding in little things that you couldn’t have on cable if you’re cutting to the 22-minute mark. And maybe changing references to TV shows that had come out, to be like, “This is a better ref that came out this year.” But it was small.
On Instagram, I saw that you posted a dramatic journey through your overgrown quarantine hair and goatee. When did you decide to commit to the look?
I was just kind of like, Oh, I haven’t had long hair as an adult, it seems like a great time to do it. I wanted to see what my face would look like with my beard grown out, because it was always like, “Drew you need to shave this to shoot something.” I was like, What if I looked like a character I played in a bunch of sketch shows at UCB? It was fun to look like a cartoon all the time. Oh, I need to go get some deodorant? I’m gonna look like I was kicked out of the Allman Brothers.
How long did it take to revert back to Other Two hair?
I wanted to show up looking like that, for them to be like, “This man has lost his mind.” I had it days before we started going back. But when I shaved my mustache off, I panicked, because you don’t recognize your face or how it moves. I remember showing up the first day and asking Heléne, “Is my face moving like it did the first half of the second season? Is this my smile?” She was like, “No, it’s the same you.”
It was announced this summer that Hilary Duff is going to star in a How I Met Your Father show based on How I Met Your Mother. Back in 2014, you were in the famous unaired pilot with Greta Gerwig of the original How I Met Your Dad spin-off. Do you have memories of making that?
That was my first big job! It was so fun to do. Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, who created How I Met Your Mother, and Emily Spivey, who wrote it, it was so fun to work with them and to work with Greta. I have just the best memories of working on it. And then memories of it not happening, and you being like, Oh, so things they say are going to happen don’t happen sometimes.
How did you react to the news that it would be made again?
I’m excited for them to keep rolling with that franchise. Of course, I’m going to be hanging out around the studio trying to sabotage it. I’m going to grow my mustache back out and show up in a mullet and be like, “I don’t know about this new one! 2014 was the real one!”