Mythic Quest caught me by surprise. When I first heard about a show exposing the inner workings of the video gaming industry, I responded with a “No, thank you!” I wasn’t interested in a show staffed by cis het white boys who create overly-sexualized female characters and forgot people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ people existed.
Normally my motto is, “StickyKeys is Always Right”, but today, dear readers, I’m thrilled to tell you I was wrong. Mythic Quest is amazing! It’s heartfelt and funny and effortlessly diverse across pretty much every spectrum. Four of the main characters are women and three are people of color! There are two Black women in the cast and they’re not related to each other! I never thought I’d see the day!
As I watched, I became enamored with Dana, portrayed by Imani Hakim (Everybody Hates Chris). Dana is a young Black woman who works as a QC tester for Mythic Quest, the titular MMORPG that sets the scene for AppleTV+’s delightful original series. Dana is a charming and affable young woman whose love and skill for the game is evident. She plays all day to test for bugs and then at night just for fun.
Dana and her co-worker Rachel (Ashly Burch) play in a dark room and Rachel begins to wonder if there’s something more between them. Is the tension caused by the game or are sparks flying on the way to a romance? Normally mega multiplayer online role playing games aren’t my bag, but throw a romance in and I’m caught hook, line, and sinker! I was able to sit with Hakim for BlackGirlNerds and I had to get the scoop about Rachel/Dana for my Geekiarians! We discuss her character, Dana/Rachel and what’s next for the series.
The Geekiary: The growth for Dana was particularly interesting. At first she just kind of went to work. She was like, “I love this, I could do this for the rest of my life. I just want to sit on this couch and play this game.” She’s content, but once she gets the opportunity to be a Twitch star, she starts to discover there’s more out there. We eventually see her move towards coding. Were you able to advocate for her growth or did you lean into what was already prepared?
Imani Hakim: Season 1 Dana, we definitely had to flesh her out a bit. She was very different on page compared to how she was written in season 2. I think Rob and Megan have said publicly that Dana was a bit one-dimensional in the first season. We definitely fleshed her out for season 2, and I did advocate for her.
One of the things I advocated for was her desire to want more and why does she want more? Her being a Black woman in this predominantly white space, how does that affect her? I think we just started having more transparent conversations about the authenticity of how [her race] influences her experience in the work space without it being the forefront of the conversation. As an actor it was up to me to do more character prep in my head.
But yeah, we were able to figure out a throughline without it being that she just loves Mythic Quest. What else does she want? Outside of Rachel chasing her? So they came up with the schooling and the tug of war between her and Rachel and if they’re going to go to Berkeley or not and how it’s complicated and that’s relationships. That’s a real thing. I’m so happy we were able to reach that with Dana because it is so much more fun to play as an actor, when you can sink your teeth into a bit of backstory, a bit of ambition and desire.
TG: I wanted to ask about the relationship with Rachel. Y’all are so cute! Was that something that was always part of the script? When watching it, it’s very casual; Rachel has a crush on Dana, etc. But we know just by living in America, you’re always going to have those people that can be resistant. Even though there’s been a rise of queer representation, was there anything you had to overcome to bring the story to screen?
IH: The love story was always in the script! It did change and evolve multiple times. Season 1 actually looked completely different for Rachel and Dana. Originally, at one point, I even had a boyfriend that caused a rift between Dana and Rachel. There was a father and it was just like, there was a lot of stuff happening!
As far as resistance, for me there was no resistance. I was excited to represent the queer community on screen without it being like, “Look at us, we’re gay!” No spirit fingers needed! We’re just existing in the office space and going on about our lives. I think that’s important because sometimes it’s easy to fall into some sort of trope and we didn’t do that. Our love story is kind of sprinkled throughout the series and it gives you a chance to fall in love with these characters – as game testers, and independently. That’s how it should be, you want to adore them for them and then also get butterflies when you watch them on screen.
TG: One thing I love about shows is the fandom response, and I love to go on Ao3 and find out what fics are being written and what pairings are standing out, which storylines are being explored? Dana and Rachel are starting to get a very nice following and people just love it. With that in mind, I know at the end of the last season they kind of came to a crossroads of their relationship. What can you tell us about them going into season 3?
IH: I can’t tell you anything! [laughs]
TG: I tried! I tried for the readers!
IH: Honestly, I can’t say anything because I literally don’t know yet. But I will say this, I’m excited! I’m excited to see where they go from here because we set them up where Dana is finally getting ready to study the theme that she’s talked about this entire season and Rachel is diving into writing. I can only imagine the stories that they can create from Dana being a coder and Rachel being a writer, so I’m really looking forward to it.
TG: Me too! Can you finish up by telling us about the Questie Besties podcast?
IH: Of course! The Questie Besties got started because David Hornsby (actor, writer and executive producer) went to Megan Ganz (creator, writer and executive producer) and Rob McElhenney (creator, writer and executive producer) and said, “You know, what might be really cool is the four women having a podcast. Because they’re best friends in real life. There’s so many stories they have that we hear and they should share them”. So Megan was like, “You should be on it too!” and it just kind of unfolded like that. It’s a podcast with the four women of the show and David doing a recap of season 1. You’re getting to hear us out of our element of the show and the friendships that we actually have, it’s a fun show!
To date, Mythic Quest has not been renewed by Apple for season 3, so keep those fingers crossed! In the meantime, seasons 1 and 2 (including excellent pandemic episodes) can be found on AppleTV+ and I highly recommend it. Keep an eye out for Hakim’s next project Dinner Party (not that one, for you MQ fans), and check out Questie Besties on Spotify.
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