It’s 2019, we’re all helplessly addicted to our phones, and mainstream pop-culture is finally starting to catch up. From influencer satire Ingrid Goes West to horror films like Unfriended, in the past few years, shows and movies are finally reflecting the new technology-centric, social-media-dominated world we’re living in. TV’s latest attempt to tackle our brave new era of total social-media immersion is The Other Two, a new Comedy Central sitcom written by former SNL head writers Sarah Schneider and Chris Kelly, which focuses an oft-neglected population of the internet-celeb ecosystem: their family members.
In the very funny new sitcom out today — billed by Vulture as the year’s first great comedy — two dirtbag older siblings are forced to reckon with their preteen brother Chase (a.k.a. ChaseDreams) becoming a YouTube celebrity after his song “I Wanna Marry U At Recess” goes viral. While Cary (Drew Tarver) and Brooke (Heléne Yorke) do get jealous of their younger brother, who makes more on one sponsored post than they make at work in months, they also support him and love him, and are determined to protect him from the cutthroat machinations and unpredictable vicissitudes of online stardom. But what is it really like to have your sibling, partner, or child become internet famous? We called up nine people to hear about the perks and pitfalls of having a YouTuber or Influencer across from you at the family dinner table.
The protective older sister.
Merray, 27, sister of Mina @itsminagerges.
My brother went viral doing these re-creations of celebrity pictures; for instance, he made a picture of Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala and mimicked her dress out of garbage bags and straws and plastic plates. My background is Egyptian and we’re Coptic orthodox, which is a very traditional and and conservative sec of the Eastern Orthodox church. Homosexuality is not an accepted identity. My parents didn’t know he was gay at the time and he went so viral that an Egyptian blog wrote about him and that’s how my parents found out. It hasn’t been easy on them. I was kind of in this weird position where I was like trying to protect him from them and trying to protect them from him. My mom’s siblings cut her off when they found out.
Right now he’s sort of pivoting in his brand toward being a body-positive advocate. Because when he was doing these re-creations he’d get a lot of shitty comments, like a lot of body-shaming about his hair and weight. When he went back on Instagram he decided he wanted to use his voice to speak out about this thing, especially how it affects men.
For a long time, all the press he did via email, I edited every single thing that he sent to a journalist or an editor. In a way I was sort of his unpaid manager and public image consultant. It was a lot of work. Recently I had to make the decision to take a step back and take space from the whole thing because it became so complicated to manage my relationship with him and my parents, and at some point I had to be like: he’s a smart adult and he can handle his shit.
The wife who demanded a soundproof basement.
Sarah-Louise, wife of YouTuber SteveDangle.
My husband is a huge fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team and he started making these videos after each game, and they sort of took off and he turned his fandom into his job. He has close to 100,000 subscribers on YouTube. His persona online is that he makes these very passionate screaming videos. Before we got the foam walls, oh God it was awful. We ended up soundproofing the basement because sometimes he’ll have to make the videos the night of the game, and I have to get up at 6:30 a.m. for work in the morning cause I’m a teacher. And he’s literally screaming at the camera and the sound trickles through the vents like BLAH BLAH BLAH THE LEAFS and I’m like — that’s not gonna fly. I’ll just send him a text message being like: shut up. He screams like a raging lunatic. Especially if they lose.
The little brother who gets embarrassed.
Michael, 20, brother of Ali @healthishell.
I don’t always enjoy everything she puts on Instagram. For example, there’s some promiscuous posts. She’s my sister and if there’s a photo of her in her bra, I don’t want to see it. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I walk out to the living room and it looks like it’s a film set. There’s people talking and I’m just like: I’m too hungover for this. I need to be careful, let me tell you. I’ll just be dancing around listening to music in my underwear and I’m like Ali why is this on your Instagram right now, 20,000 people are fucking seeing this? But in hindsight it’s funny. Still I try to reap the benefits. I get free seltzer and stuff. And if we ever go out I’m like yo didn’t you just made $600 the other day, why am I paying for this?
The husband who wanted in on the action.
Hunter Havens, husband of YouTuber Julia Havens.
Once she decided she wanted YouTube to be a full-time job, we decided to move back to Texas to really pursue this thing head on and work from home. And that’s when things really picked up, and I recognized that it was too much for her to do alone. Now it’s become very much a team effort where I’m spending six hours a day, if not more, working on the channel. Then, once we started vlogging it just kind of naturally happened that I became more of a character in it.
One thing that’s happened as a result of the vlogging is I almost can’t be in a video without putting on some moisturizer or eye cream because it happened in two or three videos and then someone picked up on it and now it’s like oh that’s that’s part of Hunter’s life is that he moisturizes in the morning. It’s now part of my role in the script. At first it was a little embarrassing but now it’s like: whatever.
I would say she puts about 60 percent of the effort and I put in the other 40 percent. And yeah, the channel is the name of my wife. It’s Julia, it’s not Hunter and Julia. But now I’m in a ton of the videos and I’ve definitely become like a larger part of the channel and so the title of the channel doesn’t give me any hard feelings or anything like that. There’s not tension so much as like, jealousy, for example that this weekend she’s in L.A. collaborating with other influencers and I am at home working my normal life. I’d much rather be in L.A. with her, but I know it’s for the business.
The mom who started her own spinoff.
Toni, mother of Allie of @allieandsam.
We were visiting the girls at a celebration for their engagement, and we were at a restaurant and the waitress said, “Hey are you guys the moms?” cause they all recognize them. And she said “that would make a good Instagram account,” and we joked about it, and the girls across the table said “hey, you should do it,” you know people need to hear about families and moms in particular, and people need to hear supportive and loving messages. So we started @momsofallieandsam it on January 1. We’re both learning a lot. Allie and Sam are a same-sex couple, and their mission from the start was to inspire people and model acceptance. Our account is to show our support if there’s anybody out there who wants to chat — we have had some lovely messages from young people who are struggling to tell their parents or have asked us about the things that we dealt with.
We’re of a different era and age, and I’ve actually had to learn Instagram. I’m like, where do I find a picture, how do you post a picture, why does it cut peoples’ heads off? I had no idea what hashtags meant. I still don’t really understand. Our husbands are chuckling about it, now they’re joking that they have to start “the dads of Allie and Sam.” I don’t know if that’s going to work.
The ex-boyfriend who needed out.
Ex-boyfriend of an Instagram influencer.
I met her at a wedding; she was very flamboyant and talkative, we got along really quickly. The first four days we’re away at this resort and I’m not on my phone so I don’t really know who she is or what she does. We finally added each other on social media about a week or two after hooking up at the wedding and at first it was oh, she posts a lot of stories. And then I started to realize oh she puts her entire life on Instagram and Facebook. I got to the point where I’d see her after work and I’d kind of know what she did all day. It became very annoying. It got to the point where I was like: Okay so I’m going to mute you on Instagram; I want to see you at the end of day and not really know that you know you were emotional over this and over that. At first she was very okay with that. And then as it got further into the relationship she said listen, I think I should be with someone that’s encouraging me to put content out. And I was like: well, that’s not me. There’s videos of her at 4 o’clock in the morning eating a hamburger dancing to the music and thinking you know why, what are you doing?
After we broke up, all my friends would start sending me her stories like a dude did you see this today. After we broke up I was in her story, she said “oh I just went through a mini breakup” and that was an absolute nightmare.
The dad who’s surprised by his daughter’s fame.
Andre, father of Skyler @diningwithskyler.
I knew she was onto something when she was 21 and in her last semester of college and the Four Seasons hotel chain called and asked her to come and talk to their executives about how to use social media more effectively. And I thought, oh my lord, a very reputable hotel chain is calling my daughter on how to use social media more effectively. So the light went on in my head.
I am not into social media myself, but we’ve had some moments when we’ve been out to dinner or we’ve been on the street and people have recognized her or what she does. Once we were in the Palm Beach area for a family vacation and Skyler was posting from this restaurant we were at; I don’t know how it works, maybe a hashtag? And a little later in the dinner somebody comes by and says “So you’re Skyler Bouchard.” I’m like “What the heck!” I thought he was upset with her. But he was able to identify the exact table we’re sitting at and he wanted to meet her and show her the kitchen and that whole bit. Another time — I’m a judge in this area and I was at a Bench and Bar conference in Delaware, and the person who introduced me says “this is SkylerBouchard’s father!”
The older brother who’s careful not to be too harsh.
Brother of an Instagram influencer.
In a sense I’m proud, but “eye-roll emoji” is how I feel sometimes. It takes so much time, the stories and the constant updates, it’s just so much work every day to try to be thinking about that constantly. It would exhaust me. Sometimes I’m kind of like: that’s not you. She and her husband go on vacation a lot and it looks really glamorous and they took 200 photos trying to get the right sunset.
Some of the times when I roll my eyes I’ll text my two other sisters in a three-way text and be like: oh my God, did you see her post, and we’ll have a laugh. We don’t hammer her in person, she’s a little sensitive. We’ll just be sarcastic like wowwww really interesting post yesterday or hey how does your husband feel about that post yesterday, pretty scandalous? Or it’s like the outfits she’s wearing. But I’m a boy so I’m allowed to roll my eyes about that anyway; my sisters have to be a little more careful.
Kim, mother of Charlotte and Sophie @yin2myyang.
At the moment I’m kind of their momager. Think of me as a mini Kris Jenner. I help them with getting product and brands to sponsor them and also help with billing, I also try to keep the peace sometimes cause it’s sisters working together. There are times they get really on each other’s nerves. Sometimes I do the communicating for them — I’m like Charlotte calm down, Sophie calm down, it’s just a job, let’s keep focused. Both girls have a different way of approaching this. One likes to be very professional about it and one’s more fly by the creative wheel, and that causes a lot of stress.
Think of me like a human resources department.
My husband [who used to be a President at Coach] is about to get involved because he recently retired and with that he will bring a whole new aspect to the blog because he will bring his own style of work and his own work ethic which is very high. One way that’s happening is he’s suggesting we have more of a more of an on-paper plan. I definitely see this as a lifelong career. I think eventually they’ll have families and whatnot and I think this is something they can fit into it. Creating content just a part of our lives now.