Set in a video game company, Mythic Quest is a very funny “workplace family” type of comedy that deals with some of the loneliness we all feel as people in the world, while still making some trenchant commentary about race and gender and sexuality. But that’s not why I started watching it! I started watching because of Charlotte Nicdao, who is a revelation. At first it seems like the main character is Rob McElhenney, who plays this larger-than-life creative director; Poppy Li, played by Nicdao, is the long-suffering lead engineer who has to get things done. But as you go across the two seasons, it becomes more and more clear that Poppy, this young Asian Australian woman, is the heart of the series.
This article appears in the Winter 2022 issue of Alta Journal.
I love that Poppy is selfish and flawed and socially awkward, all these qualities that I could totally see in myself. She’s way cooler than I am, but there’s this goofiness and deep seriousness you have in your 20s—like, “What I’m doing is important!”—that’s really great. There’s the central tension of this older, more experienced guy and this younger woman and this fight they’re having over creative direction. There’s a romance that happens between people who matter to you and who you grow with, and the easy route for writers on something like this is: then they fall in love, right? But they make it clear that there is this weird romance going on, and yet it’s not sexual. There’s something about them truly becoming best friends, and people who back each other, that’s incredibly heartwarming to watch.
My background is in computer science, and I spent my 20s designing software, so this show is right in my wheelhouse. There was a tremendous amount of sexism in software development in the ’90s, and I know it still exists today. I hope it’s better. And I feel like there’s something about Mythic Quest that’s hopeful. It’s so hopeful that this character, and these characters, can all effect growth in one another.•
—As told to Robert Ito
Mythic Quest streams on Apple TV+.