Mythic Quest review: a very funny comedy in the workplace

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Poppy Li is one of my favorite characters on television.

Poppy, played by Charlotte Nicdao, is one of the main characters in Mythic Quest, an AppleTV + comedy set in a video game studio. The studio is producing the series title massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and when the series begins they are set to release a major expansion for the named game. Banquet of the Raven. (In fact, the first season is correctly called Mythic Quest: The Raven’s Banquet.Much of this first season centers around the conflict between Creative Director Ian Grimm (Rob McElhenney), whose mastermind Mythic Quest Spring and Chief Engineer Poppy, who has to make all of Ian’s dreams come true.

(I just want to note here that Ian’s name is pronounced like the word “ion,” which is a perfect joke on his pretense and self-esteem that slowly turns out to have more layers as the show goes on. continues. This slow unfolding is kind of Mythic Questthat’s the whole point.)

It would be so easy for Mythic Quest make Poppy an underdog hero that audiences can lean on. She’s perpetually overworked and underrated, and as the series kicks off, she just wants to program a shovel into the game so players can use it to dig stuff. Ian insists she make the shovel into a weapon, because if it’s just a shovel, players will use it to dig dicks, and it will be more exciting if players can use it to moan on them. people. Ian is right on both counts: they dig dicks, and the shovel is far more satisfying as a blunt trauma tool.

Mythic Quest plays on everything you know about dramatic storytelling to make you think from that very first episode that it’s a story about Ian slowly realizing Poppy’s genius and the two learn to trust and support each other mutually. And the series in a way, that’s it. But it’s never fair that, especially when it comes to Poppy.

Nicdao plays Poppy like she’s a dandelion fighting against herself to let all of her seeds fly away. Maybe she should let go of some things, but she takes more and more until it’s too much. She’s constantly grabbing new tasks and challenges while trying to keep an eye out for old ones, and sometimes seems like the only person working on the game. Mythic Quest who is able to do his job. There’s a pretty subtle common thread as to how Poppy would gain more recognition for her accomplishments if she were a man, and how being a woman who works in video games always means working harder and harder to just stay. a step behind his male colleagues who are not so talented.

Yet Poppy is more than a commentary on being a woman in a male dominated field. It’s also a pretty savage satire on girlboss feminism and its propensity to turn people who practice it into narcissists who only care about themselves. The easiest way to make Poppy fall apart and do whatever you want is to call her a genius, so she intends to let people know how awesome she is. Poppy is so constantly focused on catching up with Ian that she doesn’t see everyone she walks on along the way.

In Mythic QuestFor example, in the season two premiere of, she brings together two of the few other women on staff for a bit of gossip and girl-talk, then threatens to fire them if they reveal her secrets. The show plays the stage for a laugh, of course, but it’s always aware of the thin line between making Poppy too much of a rah-rah underdog and too much of a boss from hell. She’s complicated, self-obsessed and very funny, and it shows how aggressively the series has turned towards the unlikely rivalry / creative partnership between Poppy and Ian. It was already a trend in this direction in the first season; in season two, the friction of Poppy and Ian is at the very heart of the series.

Mythic Quest is a bit of a weird show because, for most of its episodes, it’s a really fun workplace comedy with a killer cast and a surprising amount of heart. (If you watch it, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that co-creator Megan Ganz cut her teeth Community.) But then, every once in a while, the series will suddenly become one of the most touching dramas on television about the inability to create art that can match the vision in one’s own head, due to market forces. , personal failures, or both. The episodes which confront this impossibility are situated largely outside of Mythic Questof the story, only commenting on it indirectly. But they are still tied to the thematic core of the show.

These more dramatic episodes often become Mythic QuestThe most publicized element of – standalone season two, for example, probably garnered the most media coverage the series received in its second season. But this level of attention has also somewhat distorted the view of what Mythic Quest even is, which is a workplace comedy about navigating a world in which small, petty men call most plans. Ian is probably the genius his marketing materials make of him – he made a really great video game – but it’s also exhausting to work with. Many comedies were going to soften it, the better to make it a little more cuddly. With only 20 episodes to date, Mythic Quest humanized Ian without losing how boring he is. It is an impressive achievement.

I barely touched the other elements that make Mythic Quest awesome, like Danny Pudi’s counter-type work as a complicit asshole or the show’s often inventive visuals. (I’ll never tire of the little doors that open in a giant mural of video game characters – it towers over several floors and serves as the office’s flashy focal point – to reveal one employee shouting at another downstairs. Hell, the show has one of the best two-woman romantic relationships on TV, and its rotating cast of recurring players is almost as good as its main set.

But above all, Mythic Quest hit me, over and over again throughout its first two seasons, like a show about how difficult it is to do something right, especially when the ego gets in the way. But if you want to beat someone with an inflated ego, often the only way to do that is to inflate your own ego until they are bigger, and then where does that take you? Poppy is on her way there, and I have no idea where she might end up.

Mythic Quest releases new episodes of season two every Friday through June 25 on AppleTV +. The first season and most of the second are already streaming.

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