Dylan O’Brien Makes ‘Fantasmas’ Debut in Lingerie, Bare Butt in Thong

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/HBO
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/HBO

When done right, few gambits are funnier than an actor skewering the perceived shallowness of fellow actors. Sure, it’s a little overdone, but there are always tricks one can use to make the move feel fresh. Take, for instance, Julio Torres’ masterful HBO comedy Fantasmas, which chose this week to debut Dylan O’Brien as an actor who undergoes an existential crisis while wearing his agent’s red lingerie set.

As with most of the ingeniously ridiculous scenes in Fantasmas, O’Brien’s lacy rant against the world’s rampant inequality comes basically out of nowhere. One minute, his agent, Vanesja (Martine Gutierrez) is helping out Torres’ wayward protagonist, also named Julio, and the next, she’s taking a call from O’Brien’s character, Dustin, who will be displeased to know that his TV series, Cunty Little Rich Kids: School of Magic, has decided to use the promo photo he did not like. To make matters worse, the airline lost his luggage—so he’ll have to borrow Vanesja’s clothes for some reason, instead of just wearing whatever he already has on.

From the moment we cut to Dustin’s hotel room, where he struts out to the bed in Vanesja’s underwear set, the farcical absurdity is practically oozing out of the wallpaper.

“I just feel like the world is so fucked up,” a crestfallen Dustin tells his agent, his eyes glimmering with the sorrow of an abandoned puppy in an ASPCA commercial. “I’ve been on this show for 15 seasons, and I make a shit-ton of money, have a house in Bali, a PlayStation… It kicks ass, but for what?”

As tiresome as it might be to hear an absurdly rich person bemoaning that their wonderful fortune has no purpose, the real humor in this scene comes from Vanesja’s soulless responses. In this case, she places her long-nailed fingers on his shoulder and asks, “You… want another PlayStation?” (Seriously what is these two’s relationship?!)

Dylan O’Brien and Martine.

Dylan O’Brien and Martine.

Monica Lek/HBO

At first, Dustin goes for it, but then he remembers that he is experiencing a Deep Moment™ and presses on. He tells Vanesja about the eye-opening event that cast this pall over his cunty little rich existence: Earlier that day, he’d spoken with a man who really, really had to take a shit, but he couldn’t because if he left the subway station they were standing in, he’d have to pay for re-entry and could not afford it.

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“I saw it from his point of view,” Dustin tells Vanesja, replaying the moment for her benefit complete with the flitting sounds of a montage playing in his head. “The world is not fucking fair. And that’s just one dude. There’s so many like him. And what am I doing?”

Once again, Vanesja comes through with a gloriously tone-deaf response: “We can do an interview with Teen Vogue!” Never mind that Dustin is 39 years old.

“Don’t share that,” Vanesja cautions, her voice growing dark.

And with that, the scene is over. Dustin struts away from Vanesja, exposing his nearly bare ass in her underwear and scolding her for failing to “care about the problems of the people,” and then, we’re tossed back into the wild, weird universe of Fantasmas—where Julio is still trying to recover a lost earring while his life and housing situation teeter on the brink of total ruin. (His apartment is evicting everyone as it transitions to a General Mills café and residency, because, you know, capitalism.)

On the surface, Fantasmas tells the story of Julio’s distracting earring quest, but really, its greatest gift has been little vignettes like O’Brien’s. A-listers come and go as gossipy mermaids, ALF and Real Housewives parodies, or, in guest stars Alexa Demie and Ziwe Fumudoh’s cases, kinky customer service representatives. Much like Torres’ feature film debut, Problemista, the show holds a funhouse mirror up to our sick, sad world and its rampant bureaucratic absurdity. At this point, the only question left is who might turn up next—and what they’ll be wearing when they do.

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