Ever since his younger brother rocketed to overnight fame, Cary has been scrambling to match his success. As a struggling actor in his late 20s, it's clear seeing Chase accomplishing his dreams at just 13 has brought out some deep insecurities. But Chase's kind of stardom is rare — a kismet mix of luck and talent — and not something Cary can so easily replicate, even if he is now orbiting the spotlight. The more desperate he gets, the further he drifts from his true self, and in the March 14 episode, that culminates in rejection — a scene hilariously illustrated with The Other Two's Call Me By Your Name parody. As with much of the show, however, it also communicates a deeper message about the entertainment industry, one in which, as Chase is learning, reckoning with who you are, who you think you should be, and who everyone else wants you to be can be difficult.
At the end of Thursday night's episode, Cary plops down by Justin Theroux's fireplace to contemplate his situation in a black and white printed shirt, tears streaming down his face as Sufjan Stevens' "Visions of Gideon" plays in in the background. According to Brooke, "doing Call Me By Your Name" is something he partakes in regularly. "I never saw that movie," their mother says. "Yes you did," responds Brooke. "We went with Cary, remember? He sat facing us while we watched it."
In a way, the moment perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the show. On the one hand, it's sad and reflective, embodying an honest moment of pain. On the other, it's silly and darkly funny. As has become recurring for The Other Two, you simultaneously want to laugh and cry. It's also no small thing that this is a gay character parodying a gay love story without homosexuality being the joke — or without going for a cheaper laugh, like parodying the peach scene. The Other Two is often ridiculous and over the top, but it's also very smart.
More importantly to Cary's story, though, while his and Jeremy's short-lived romance wasn't nearly as tragic as Elio and Oliver's in Call Me By Your Name, this still marks a pivotal moment in his life. Even though Jeremy just met Cary, he can see that his brother's fame has set him on a bad path.
"When we first met I was all depressed about my career," Cary says earlier on. "Now I'm definitely gaining traction." Only, is he? Is this kind of traction worth it? He's dressing different, acting different, and patronizing his date by assuming he wanted a picture with his famous brother. "I'm not sure that I'm into this whole new vibe," Jeremy says. "I don't know you that well, but it feels like you a month ago would make fun of you now. It feels like you don't really know who you are right now."
He's not wrong, and by the end of the episode, it seems like Cary has finally started to realize that himself. Him "doing Call Me By Your Name," then, isn't just about being rejected, but knowing that he was his own undoing. Now, he'll have to decide if we wants to keep forcing himself to be someone he isn't in the hopes that he'll have a sudden breakthrough, or start being who he really is and make peace with the fact that, even if that never gets him exactly where he wants to be, it's the only way whatever success he does find will feel genuine.