Katelyn and Drew Tarver Say Goodbye to The Other Two Together
The brother and sister duo, who share a special moment in the show’s final moments, in conversation.
You can thank a short-lived children’s singing competition from the early Aughts (also starring Lucy Hale), to thank for one of this year’s most poignant TV moments.
Back in the summer of 2003, a then 13-year-old Katelyn Tarver, her parents, and three siblings (Drew, the eldest, then Amanda and Jake) relocated from rural Georgia to Los Angeles as Katelyn appeared on national TV, competing to score a slot in the to-be-formed supergroup, American Juniors, on a show of the same name. After weeks of America’s votes, Tarver eventually was voted out in the last round (on S Club week, no less!), but that small taste of Hollywood would prove to be plenty.
20 years later, Katelyn and Drew are both back in LA, no dial-in votes needed. Katelyn, now 33, is an actress and singer (her sophomore album will be out in early 2024, with a headlining world tour kicking off this September); Drew, 37, a comedian best known for his starring role as Cary Dubek on The Other Two, which just ended it’s third season. After this interview, it would be announced that the fan-beloved show, helmed by SNL alums Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, would not be coming back for a fourth season, making the season finale its final episode.
Even before the announcement, the episode, which aired on June 29, was a significant one for both Drew and Katelyn, as Cary’s season-long arc comes to an ending while Katelyn’s single “What Makes A Life Good?” plays over its final moments. Here, the brother and sister interview each other about their own Chase Dreams-like dynamic.
Katelyn Tarver: Hello, Drew.
Drew Tarver: Well hello there, sweet sister. I think what's cool about this convo is Katelyn is kind of my real-life Chase Dreams. Katelyn and Amanda were the talented ones of the family. They were singers and dancers and singing in church and in pageants and stuff. We grew up in rural Georgia. I was always kind of like, "Well, my singing voice is bad and my sisters are killing it. What do I do? Does anybody need to hear from me? I guess I can kind of be funny at a fish fry. Is that what I do? Do I just show up to family reunions and try to make jokes?" And now with her song in the finale of The Other Two, it's cool that we are [now] working together, technically, for the first time since our lemonade stand that we had.
Katelyn: That reminds me of a childhood performance where it may have been the last time we really performed together. Amanda and I were obviously obsessed with Mary-Kate and Ashley, and there was a song called “Brother for Sale.” We had props, there was a real stand. And then Drew's photo was hanging on the stand. Obviously, at the end, the message of the song is he's actually a really good big brother and he's not for sale. Drew enters at the end, picks Amanda up and then walks her off-stage. It was really a big hit.
Drew: It was a huge family act, and we got laughs, and then we got some heart at the end, and I got some stage experience.
Is that when the showbiz bug bit you?
Drew: Yeah, I had the bug after carrying my sister off-stage for a mere four seconds. So I was like...
Katelyn: I do feel like you were at that age where you were a little self-conscious 'cause we were out there being like, "Only 50 cents!" It was like, "Oh, they're so cute." And then Drew had to walk, be kind of macho like, "No..."
Drew: Oh, "I actually love you too, sister."
Katelyn: Yeah, it was too sincere for a preteen to have to partake in, but he did it.
Drew: Yeah, it was tough. But I was like, "There's something here."
Katelyn: I think I'm your Chase Dreams because I did a reality show called American Juniors. It was like American Idol for kids, and that got our family on this trajectory. It was in the summer of '03. I was 13, Drew was like 16, Amanda was 9 or 10. It was just such a crazy experience for us all to have together, being truly plucked from this small town in Georgia, living in LA for the summer. And we all kind of got stars in our eyes at that point. I joke that I ruined our family, 'cause it made us all want to pursue this career path that our parents were like, "What did we do wrong? Why are you guys all moving to Hollywood?"
Drew: A career in show business was so preposterous where we're from. It was like, "No, that's so far away and impossible." And then all of a sudden, Katelyn was singing next to Ryan Seacrest and we were like, "Whoa, it can... What?" Our parents were like, "You guys should follow your dreams." After we did it for five or six years, they were like, "Are we still doing the dreams thing? Are we sure about dreams?"
Katelyn: I went back to eighth grade with weird LA clothes, and kind of getting made fun of for them.
Drew: I showed back up to high school with a cool white belt that I bought on Melrose.
Drew: People were kind of like, "What are you doing, dude? You need to put a braided belt on that's brown and chill out."
Katelyn: We were in LA for, what, two, three months? It was just borderline too long 'cause our dad was kind of taking some fashion risks too — he was getting the LA energy.
Drew: Dad was almost in a Von Dutch hat, trying to show up in the background of Punk'd. Okay, Katelyn, what do I want to ask? Your song “What Makes A Life Good?” is in the show’s finale. I remember you had sent me a couple demos of new songs, and I was listening to them and I had just gotten done filming Season 3. I was like, "Oh, a couple of these songs really fit into Cary's journey this season,” as he’s dealing with, like, “What's your purpose and what is happiness?” I was like, "Oh, I should send one of these to Chris and Sarah who created the show." They wrote back and they were like, "Oh, could we maybe use one of these for the finale?" We were like, "What? Really? Yes, absolutely." Well actually first we said, "Maybe, we need to shop around to other shows."
Katelyn: It was in very high demand.
Drew: We were like, "Let's check in with Riverdale. Let's see what Paramount+ needs." But yeah, they were like, "Oh, I think it can work for the finale." And they ended up putting it in it, which was very cool and exciting.
Katelyn: Even if it didn't get chosen, it was a cool moment for me to feel like my brother thought they were good enough to pitch to Chris and Sarah, who Drew obviously really respects, I really respect, and I really respect the show. So to even be considered truly felt so nice and a great opportunity for me as a songwriter and as an artist. And then the other layer of just personally getting to be a part of this show that's been such a big deal for my brother. I've seen his journey and I'm so proud of him and where he's at and his work on the show. It just feels like this really, really fun full-circle moment for us as siblings, and also career-wise, too, to get to enjoy something like this together. So again, props to Drew for helping his sister out. I love just being very sincere to Drew 'cause it makes him uncomfortable.
Are you able to watch The Other Two as a fan, or do you just feel like you’re watching your brother on-screen?
Katelyn: I think at this point I'm able to separate them and enjoy the show for what it is. Also, Drew doesn't give me any spoilers. That helps in being able to separate it and enjoy it as a fan, because I truly am a big fan of the show. I'm always telling people to watch it and it's kind of like, "Well okay, we'll watch your brother's show, I guess." And I'm like, "Well even if he wasn't my brother it's a good show, I swear." There are certain moments where he makes a face or says something a certain way that just feels so Drew, which is obviously what makes it so good.
Cary's journey this season is really tough to watch. Not only is it like watching this character get lost in these dark things, but also connecting with it and being like, "Oh my gosh, we all have our inner Cary.” And even seeing the song being placed in the show as a thing that relates to Cary — I wrote that song about my own inner angst and turmoil and questions around disappointment, and I tried to do something and it didn't quite look like what I thought. So for me it's sort of like, "Whoa, this show is calling me out with every episode in sort of a cautionary tale.” Also, seeing Drew being pushed to those places as an actor, as someone who's so good at being funny, it's cool to see him be able to really land those dramatic, dark, kind of gross moments, too. I think he does a good job of really selling it and making you feel like, "Oh, gross. I hate him, but I also am him sometimes."
Drew: It's very fun to do. We're doing a comedy show, but also have the darker undertones of what makes this character tick and why he's getting into these sad situations. And it gives a depth to the jokes that Chris and Sarah are so good at doing. They're very good at grounding the comedy in a true sadness.
Katelyn: Not to toot my own horn here —
Drew: Toot, please.
Katelyn: I think what's cool is I wrote this song over a year ago, so I didn't know what this season was like. There's a lyric in the second verse that kind of sums it up for me, and also I think connects really well with Cary, which is: "I always had this idea, that if I could check off every box I'd never end up lost." And it's just that idea which I see in Cary, which is like, "I'm going to do everything I'm supposed to do. I'm going to pay my dues, I'm going to work really hard. I'm going to do all these things to get me to where I want to go." And then all of a sudden you end up lost and you're like, "Wait, I thought I did everything right?" It's just such a true human experience, and I think that's what's so cool about the show and this season in particular, is it's so absurd and crazy and some of the moments are so over the top, but it’s rooted in something very true.
Drew: It's like, the more he tries to hold onto it and control it the worse it gets for him. He's like, "Okay, this didn't end up how I thought it was going to end up. So if I grab it even tighter and direct it here or direct it there, I can fix the trajectory."
Katelyn: What's it like to do those more dramatic moments? Does it make you want to do it more in the future or is it kind of like, "Oh, I like just being goofy and funny?"
Drew: Doing more dramatic stuff with this writing is so fun because I trust Chris and Sarah so much, and it's surrounded by jokes, so I don't just have to do a drama for 25 straight minutes. A day has many emotions in it, and a chance to run them all. If I only had to put on a wig and scream at midnight at UCB, great, but it's also fun to wade into the more dramatic stuff with people who have such a great handle on it. I felt very safe on this show to be like, "Let me just throw myself into this and see if anybody's buying it as a real true thing." So I guess it's kind of a non-answer, but I like doing it. I like doing it all.
But you're also an actor, Katelyn. Do you find music and acting as creative endeavors are linked at all? In the studio are you ever playing out a character? Do you find that it's helpful also being an actor and a songwriter?
Katelyn: I think they feed into each other for sure. With songwriting, there's always going to be a level of exaggeration. Take “What Makes a Life Good?” I just had that question and I was like, "What about if it's a song where you're just asking all these questions?" And when you're in the moment you're just trying to scrape around that idea as much as possible to figure out what to put into a song. So you're going to a level of exaggeration, but it doesn't feel like a character, necessarily. You’ve got to lean into the drama and find the most emotional path. I always want a song to really stick the knife in and twist it as much as possible.
Drew: With comedy stuff, I feel like a lot of funny ideas I get within conversation where I'm trying to make somebody laugh and I'm like, "Oh, that's a funny little idea." Do you find that with songwriting it's similar, where you're in conversation and you're like, "Oh, that's a fun thing?" Or do you just kind of wake up and go, "What Makes a Life Good?"
Katelyn: I find a lot of lyrics in conversation. I heard Phoebe Bridgers say, "Your best lyrics are your jokes," or something. So how do you take those moments in conversation where you either make a joke or some sort of insight and you turn those into songs? Which I found to be pretty good advice. As a songwriter that's definitely something I do. But as an actor I feel like it's so separate in the sense of, these aren't my words, these aren't coming from my brain. It's different in that way. In looking at making an album, I've tried to adopt almost this idea of looking at the full thing as a season of a show and songs as episodes and like, “What's the arc of this album?”
Drew: Is a big part of why you write them to sing them live? You're about to go on a world tour. Also, a la American Juniors, can I go and buy some shoes and a white belt?
Katelyn: Only if you sit side-stage and cry while I sing every song. I love performing live. I feel like that's where you really get to feel like an artist. Putting music out in this sort of day and age is like, you put it on streaming and YouTube, and you post about it and you get an interaction, but it's not the same as playing live and getting to see actual faces singing the song or feeling impacted by the music. It's the only way I've felt like, "Oh, what I'm doing might matter."
I've heard you talk about when you're filming and you do something funny, it's like, people don't laugh in the moment because you can’t ruin the take so you are left to just be like, "God, I hope that landed. I guess I'll find out in six months when it airs on national television."
Drew: Yeah, it's a little stressful. You have to think about how people laughed during the rehearsal of the scene. kind of just hold onto that.It is a big difference from performing live. They literally say, "Quiet on set. Lock it up, do not laugh. I know, Drew, you're only used to performing live and getting laughs, and knowing that it's working and literally needing them."
Katelyn: That's why we make an event out of watching the episodes together every week, and really we make sure to get those laughs out really loud so we can make Drew feel better.
Drew: They definitely studio audience me at home. But then Cary [does that] in the first episode of this season, so talk about being like, "Oh, I can separate Drew a little bit from the character.. Literally sitting here in a plunging V-neck with my sternum hair out, being like, "Do you like it?"
Katelyn: You did get a big musical number this season. Are you trying to feature on the album or…?
Drew: I was definitely angling for that.
Katelyn: I knew this was coming.
Drew: I was back in LA for a Thanksgiving break or something and I had to record it. And they were like, "Okay, why don't you warm up your voice? Do all these things." And the more I warmed up my voice I was like, "Wait, am I getting good? Do I have pipes?" And then after doing the entire recording I was hitting notes I've never hit before in my entire life. No one was in town, so I got on the phone and was just sending voice notes, being like, "Listen to this note. This is amazing." and I wasn't getting texts back very quickly, like five hours later people, but I was singing around my house for hours being like, "I guess I'm good now!”
Katelyn: You really found the joy of music for the first time.
Have you guys shown your parents the finale yet?
Drew: I haven't seen the finale. I've seen up to nine and I'm going to watch the finale with Katelyn.
Katelyn: It'll be very special. We'll probably both be crying. And then we can show our parents and [be like], “See, mom and dad? We've done it."
Drew: "Thanks for hanging in there with us. It took a little bit longer than you thought, but this is something, right?"