When I reviewed Mythic Quest’s first season
, I made no bones about how I thought it had a lot of potential, but missed the mark comedically. Though it employed a lot of It’s Always Sunny’s cynical brand of humor
, and managed to tackle video game industry issues with some gravitas, I was left wanting characters that were a bit more likable — or at least a script that gave us more to root for.Hopping into the first two episodes of Mythic Quest Season 2, I was delighted to discover that our cast of game developers (including Rob McElhenney’s Ian Grimm, Ashley Burch’s game tester Rachel, and Charlotte Nicdao’s manic Poppy) had grown warmer, while sacrificing none of the blunt realities of the industry. It manages to mix the best of workplace comedies with the uniquely toxic spin of game studio life, highlighting the exhausted creative spirit in video games that are endlessly buoyed by your love, and mutual hate for your coworkers. It still stumbles at times, relying on one or two hokey tropes and a bit of awkward writing, but I ultimately found it a much more approachable, and enjoyable ride with some meaningful character progression to boot.The second season’s first episode drops us almost immediately back into the mix at the Mythic Quest studio, as the team is about to kick off production on their next big project. It feels great to skip the character introductions Season 1 had to set up so we can just dive into what makes the show work: Workplace comedy with game developer sensibilities. The opening bit, with Poppy and Grimm almost immediately abandoning their attempt to name the latest game, is comedic gold thanks to clever wordplay and the actor’s naturally unnatural chemistry. Things segway quickly into Poppy experiencing a terrifyingly awkward sex dream that builds off last season’s romantic threads. While it almost veers things off course (especially given the incredibly fraught nature of real-life industry sexual harassment), it sticks the landing by having characters examine it all through the lens of workplace power dynamics, rather than just “yo, these sitcom characters be horny.”These early bits of writing, including a thread about Grimm and Poppy giving the art team an increasingly unrealistic series of tasks, feel eerily similar to Leslee Sullivant’s hilarious TikTok series on game studios. Lead creatives are the waffling, egotistical monsters they often are, while mid and entry-level workers (and even fellow seniors) suffer under their whims. It’s something that happens in every office, but seeing minor characters like the art team or the head of HR call out our leads’ buffoonishness is a satisfying formula because it lets them be the caricatures they are. Naomi Ekperigin is outstanding as HR manager Carol, perfectly embodying a miserable existence as both a reluctant matchmaker and the person who tells you not to have sex in the office so-help-me-god.
As for interoffice relationships, Ashley Burch’s and Imani Hakim’s romance, teased in the first season, is given plenty of satisfying development early on. However, it does suck to see their roles as testers (one of the industry’s most underappreciated jobs) continue to be minimized. The pair are still just playing games in a room that conveniently only holds the two of them, and are occasionally called upon to become motion-capture test dummies. While these scenes contain some wonderful chemistry between Burch and Hakim, it’s the flimsiest section of Mythic Quest’s overall admirable depiction of game studio life.
As for Poppy, the co-creative director and arguably the hero of our sad, sordid tale, actress Charlotte Nicdao infuses her character with the same level of screaming, crying, and borderline mental breakdowns we saw in Season 1. It’s still a bit exhausting to have her almost always be in that one mode, but even in just these first two episodes, she’s given an extra dose of humanity (and dare I say it, a straight-up win against Grimm) that should give the audience a bit more of a reason to root for her. Even better, it’s done without sacrificing her self-destructive and panic-stricken personality that clearly defines most of her work.
I was delighted to discover that our cast of game developers had grown warmer, while sacrificing none of the blunt realities of the industry.
The conclusion of episode 2, wherein Poppy gives a speech at a Women in Games conference (a real-life organization, for the record. It even gives USC Games’ director Tracy Fullerton a cameo) is a wonderful example of how those two disparate sides of Poppy can blend to make a hilariously exaggerated, yet still grounded rant on how people like her are tired of saying sorry for being the mess that they are. Though Season 2 of Mythic Quest doesn’t seem to factor in any of the work-from-home realities of COVID-era game development (aside from one episode shot on iPhones), Poppy’s embarrassing diatribe certainly feels like it was made for people in the video game world who are just trying to get by one Zoom call at a time. By the end of it, Mythic Quest even finds something insightful to say about what it really means to be inspired in your cynical workplace.After the first season’s missteps, it delights me that Mythic Quest’s Season 2 premiere managed to make me give off more than a few full-throated chuckles, and even made me care about characters I initially wasn’t sure I wanted to hang out with. There’s still plenty of the second season left to check out, so of course, it might ebb and flow in quality, but McElhenney and crew seem like they’re finally capitalizing on the chemistry and potential that was there from the beginning.