TV

No Pressure Or Anything, But You Would Probably Like ‘Mythic Quest’

This is not going to be a hard sell. It’s not going to be one of those all-caps shouty things where someone begs you to watch a show they like. There will be no overt peer pressure involved, no coercion, no screaming into the void. There are too many television shows for that and, frankly, we’ve all been through too much over the past year-and-change for me to sit here and harangue you about what you are or are not watching. All this is, all I’m doing, is making a suggestion. One based on years of reading things all of you have stated about other shows and things you’ve said you like and want. This is a friendly exercise. Here we go: I think you would probably like Mythic Quest.

I’ve written about Mythic Quest before, a few times, actually. The simple reason for that is that I like it very much. And I’m not even a big video game person, which was my original stumbling block with it, because the show is set in a video game studio. But as I started watching it, I noticed familiar beats left and right. Mythic Quest is not so much “a video game show” as it is “a workplace comedy set in a video game studio.” Objecting to it on that basis would be like objecting to The Office because you’re not super into the paper-selling business. Which, conveniently, brings me to my next point.

You liked The Office, right? Well, Mythic Quest has some Office-y elements to it. The studio is led by a self-important bozo played by Rob McElhenney, kind of a cross between Michael Scott and Mac from It’s Always Sunny. There is a will-they, won’t-they romance between two characters that builds over a season. There are emotionally impotent sadsacks and power-crazed sociopaths and lots of versions of other characters you might recognize in their broader outlines. Danny Pudi from Community shows up as the soulless marketing/money man for the studio and he is just delightfully evil. Remember him? Remember Community? You loved that show.

You know what other show you liked? Ted Lasso. Lord in heaven, did you ever like Ted Lasso. With good reason, too. Ted Lasso was a blast, a breath of refreshing calm in a sea of chaos. It was a funny show about a sweet man diving into British anarchy and creating some semblance of order, like if Paddington wore track pants and had a powerful mustache. Mythic Quest is not exactly like that. It is meaner and sharper-edged in spots. But it is, at its heart, a sweet show about people who like each other and want to build something cool together, like Ted Lasso. This was never more true than in the show’s quarantine special. That sucker was as funny and moving and cathartic as any half-hour episode of television you’ll ever see. But we’ve been over that. Let’s keep going.

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Regarding the Rob McElhenney of it all: You like It’s Always Sunny, right? Man, I hope you do. What a terrific show that is and has been for a period of time somehow zeroing in on 20 years now. Well, Mythic Quest is the brainchild of most of that team, with McElhenney, Charlie Day, and Megan Ganz getting the Created By credits. And like Sunny, it too dances across a slew of lines: it’s sweet and foul, funny and mean, heartfelt and heartless. It’s a highwire act that can trip up a lot of lesser shows run by lesser acrobats. But this is some Cirque du Soleil stuff over here. It’s the rare show that can go from “gamer trolls digging swastikas into the battlefield” to “heavy discussions about biological and found families.” That’s not nothing.

It also has secret weapons. One of the secret weapons is BLAMMO SURPRISE JAKE JOHNSON AND CRISTIN MILIOTI. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I know I said no all-caps. But I say a lot of things. And how could I not all-caps that? You love Jake Johnson, he of “Nick Miller, clown prince of New Girl” fame. And you love Cristin Milioti, too, for a lot of reasons but especially for Palm Springs, an extremely good movie. The two of them pop up out of nowhere for a standalone episode in the first season that will knock your socks off. This paragraph kind of ruins that surprise. But I already said I was sorry once a few sentences ago. Let’s just apply that to this, too.

And Mythic Quest has a second secret weapon, too, or at least one that was secret to me before I started watching: Charlotte Nicdao, who plays Poppy, the game’s lead developer and a ball of ambitious anxiety. She is freaking incredible. She hits all these little mannerisms and flourishes that are not in the already-good scripts and carries huge chunks of episodes. You would like her and her character a lot, I think. And I would like it if she gets to be a big star because of it. And then we would both like watching her, say, collect an Emmy or two. She deserves this, but so do we.

I bring all of this up now for two primary reasons: One, because the second season premieres this weekend on Apple TV, a streaming service you probably already have (just go where you went to watch Ted Lasso and click around a bit); two, because the second season is so good. It is really so good. It takes the stuff that was already good in the first season and builds on it. It takes the stuff that had room to grow and lets it branch out. Mythic Quest is legitimately one of my favorite television shows right now and, while I would like you to watch it both to validate my opinion and to ensure that Apple keeps funneling money into it, I would mostly like you to watch it because, again, I really think you will like it.

So watch Mythic Quest for me, if that gets you to watch it, and I do appreciate it if this is your reason for giving the show a shot. But more importantly, if I know you like I think I do, you should watch Mythic Quest for you.

Season two of ‘Mythic Quest’ begins streaming on Friday, May 7th via Apple TV+.

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