Like many people, I bought a new Apple device and got a free year of Apple TV+. And ok, I’ll try anything for free. While browsing around on the service, I stumbled across Mythic Quest, an absurdist comedy about a game development company. I binged the whole thing in a week. You should, too.
Thus far, there’s one season of Mythic Quest along with two bonus episodes, one centered around the quarantine pandemic and the other focused as a teaser for season two. Because that’s right, season two arrives on May 7th. That’s under a week away, so you have enough time to watch the entire season and jump straight into season two. Huzzah!
But I’m getting ahead of myself, and you probably want to know about the show. Mythic Quest takes place inside a game development studio dubbed—well, “Mythic Quest.” And they make just one game: Mythic Quest. Um, yeah, never mind that. In the show, Mythic Quest launched in 2010 to great fanfare and took off; it’s now the top-grossing massive multiplayer online game in the world, taking in 11.6 Billion dollars a year. This is a world without World of Warcraft or basically any other real game you’ve heard of, so you can consider Mythic Quest as a sort of stand-in for those games.
When the series begins, the studio is on the eve of launching its first expansion, Raven’s Banquet. It’s a make-or-break moment for the company, and if it doesn’t do well, the studio may be out of the business. And when the show begins, we’re treated to a commercial all about the game … creator’s abs.
What a Wonderful Cast
You read that right, the commercial, which started out as talking about why Mythic Quest as the best game in the world, really ends up as an epic showcase of Ian Grimm’s (Rob McElhenney) abs. Oh, and that’s pronounced “Eye-an” because of course it is. Ian created the game, but he didn’t do most of the coding. Call him the visionary behind the success, if you will. That won’t stop him from taking most of the credit for all the work, of course.
Backing him up is lead programmer Poppy Li (Charlotte Nicdao), the true coding genius behind Mythic Quest. If Ian is the artist, Poppy is the paintbrush. She makes his vision a reality. But naturally, she’s tired of putting in all the work and getting none of the glory. So she’s slowly starting to rebel and throw in something, anything, into the game that can be truly hers—even if it’s just a shovel.
David Brittlesbee (David Hornsby) is technically the boss of the Mythic Quest studio, with the executive producer title and all. I say “technically” because you can only be the boss if you have the spine to make the decisions and hold people to it. David ultimately serves as the “mom” to Ian and Poppy’s “sibling squabbles” over how best to move the game forward, but as a hapless man, he often causes more problems than he solves. By sheer luck, often his best decisions are to do nothing at all.
The game studio needs to make money, and for that, it has Brad Bakshi (Danny Pudi). If you remember Pudi from Community, be prepared for a totally different character. Brad is as close as you’ll get to the show’s villain, even if he’s on the same team as everyone else. He has one goal above all, make himself (and by association the studio) money. In a wonderful reference to Pudi’s work as the voice of Huey on the rebooted Duck Tales, Brad explains his life goal is to earn so much money he can build a real-life Scrooge McDuck money bin and go swimming in his cash. He’d probably sell the employees if he thought it would make a profit.
CW Longbottom (F. Murray Abraham) serves as the game’s story writer. Longbottom is a formerly successful one-time Nebula award-winning novelist who slipped into obscurity decades ago. Now he’s trying to work in a world he clearly doesn’t understand and jam a story into a game that cares more about blood and guts than myth and mythos. It’s no wonder he spends most of his workday drinking and creating yet another backstory—sometimes stolen blatantly from Star Wars.
What else does a game studio need? Testers. The series focuses mainly on two testers, Rachel (Ashly Burch) and Dana (Imani Hakim). You might think Mythic Quest would go the obvious romance subplot route with Ian and Poppy, but that’s not the case. Instead, the testers are the focus of romance, in the unrequited variety. If you’re an avid video gamer, just try not to look at the actors handling of the controllers too much. I’ve yet to see a show where the actors know how to handle a gaming controller.
And rounding out the main cast is Jo (Jessie Ennis), David’s assistant. She immediately abandons David to go assist Ian instead, and frankly, she’s insane. I don’t want to say too much about her for fear of spoilers, but if you’re familiar with the “over-the-top, doesn’t understand boundaries, or people, or social niceties” character, Jo serves as that—but turned up to 11.
It’s Not Always Sunny in Mythic Quest Studios
A point of admission: I’ve never watched It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but if you loved that show, you’ll likely love Mythic Quest. It comes from the same people (you probably recognized Ian’s Rob McElhenney, who created both shows). What makes it refreshing is, despite Mythic Quest’s status as an absurdist workplace comedy, it’s not another rendition of The Office or Parks and Rec.
But this is an absurdist comedy, so expect a lot of over-the-top personalities to fight over the dumbest things in hilarious ways. Take Poppy’s attempt to slip in one thing she created all on her own into the game. It’s a shovel. That’s it. A shovel. It digs. Innocuous right? Naturally, Ian spots it and halts game development so he can rework the thing and lay claim.
That leads to full motion-capture green costume sequences to figure out how to turn the shovel into a murderdeathkill weapon because that’s what gamers would really want (ok, it’s true). Brad, who only cares about money, wants to turn it into a paid item sold by a sexy elf maiden because sex sells. And everyone sees the only other predictable thing gamers would do with a shovel—dig holes shaped like obscene things.
All of that leads to looping in Pootie Shoe (Elisha Henig), a famous streamer known for his bunghole rating system. No seriously. And you know what? That and the gamers who dig obscene-shaped holes is probably the most accurate part of the show. Oh, and the Nazis, but let’s not go there.
Ultimately though, it’s nice to see character growth and depth. In just one season, you’ll get a better understanding of Ian’s narcissistic tendencies and his willingness to sacrifice for the sake of his employees and the game. Poppy moves from fighting every battle for the sake of fighting to choosing which battles are worth fighting and understanding that sometimes it’s better to be the underappreciated brush than the scarred artist. Nearly every character goes through a similar journey.
Except for Brad. Because Brad is perfect in all his evilness. And I hope that doesn’t change. I also hope the show doesn’t change too much as it goes into season two. Unfortunately, the Pandemic interrupted filming for season two, and adjustments had to be made. But the special quarantine episode is one of the better “filmed in NotZoom” attempts I’ve seen so far.
Honestly, that might be Mythic Quest in a nutshell: One of the better “tech culture” shows I’ve seen so far. I laughed a lot, and I always wanted one more episode. I can’t wait for season two. If a season three happens, it might be the only reason I pay for an Apple TV+ subscription.
You can watch Mythic Quest on Apple TV+.