Ashly Burch came to AppleTV+’s Mythic Quest with experience voicing dozens of video games. That’s an ambition she held since roughly the age of 13 when she figured out that was a real thing. That extensive background in gaming was something she carried to the show to help foster an inclusive and authentic environment for the series.
Plus, it helped her more completely bring her character, game tester Rachel, to life.
“The beginning of the show was my first on-camera writers room, and it was also my first time working with all these folks. So I definitely came in feeling intimidated. Tt was nice to have that sort of bedrock of gaming knowledge because I sort of felt like I always had something to offer,” Burch explained. “It was really great feeling this is a role that I can play. Because I’ve been in the industry for so long and I love it, to feel like I got to be a representative of it was just really awesome.”
Burch’s Rachel spends much of Mythic Quest Season 2 negotiating a tricky office romance with co-worker Dana (Imani Hakim). As a side-effect of their relationship, the vast differences between Dana and Rachel spawn wildly different future paths for the new couple. Incredibly driven, Dana wants to become a game developer. Full of ambition, Rachel holds lot of ideas but little follow through.
While many similarities exist between Burch and Rachel, the inability to follow through with ambition is not one of them.
“Rachel is a person with tremendous ambition and almost no skills. She really thinks that she deserves to run a company or have a lot of influence or power and sort of hasn’t really shown any reason that anyone should give it to her,” Burch laughed. “I knew that I wanted to be a voice actor from the age of 13, so I never really had a meandering phase that I think a lot of people have. What Rachel is going through is quite relatable.”
Rachel’s ambition but lack of follow-through becomes the focus of one of Season 2’s very best moments.
Later in the season, Rachel finds herself in the position of driving Ian (Rob McElhenney) in a Porsche as he cannot drive a stick shift. Ian eventually informs her that this is her opportunity to advance her career. To give him that legendary elevator pitch (albeit in a Porsche) that catapults so many men into positions of power. And, while she makes a valiant attempt, she totally botches the landing.
As Mythic Quest often does, the scene offers up standard workplace tropes (in this case, the lack of female opportunities of advancement) and completely turns it on its head. It gives a totally fresh perspective of the workplace that we really haven’t seen before.
Plus, it helped further define Rachel as a character for Burch.
“I really love that episode because it really helped me lock into who Rachel is. What I love about our show as well is that it’s really not moralistic. It’s just about honest perspectives,” Burch shared. “I think people of Rachel’s generation get a ton of misplaced grief. I also think that it’s important to show a Gen Z woman as multifaceted and flawed.”
Burch’s multifaceted portrayal of Rachel also extends to the rest of the show which Burch helped write, penning the preamble to the second season “Everlight.” She, as well as the rest of the creative team on the series, are dedicated to demonstrating as much inclusivity in front of and behind the camera as possible. It reflects the growing spectrum of gamers in the real world.
“The diversity in our cast reflects not just those folks that create the games but also the folks that play them because that is such a wide berth of people,” Burch said. “We have sort of a cultural stereotype of gamers being young white men, but there’s a whole diverse swath of folks that play games, especially MMOs like mythic quest. They have such a huge reach.”
Looking forward, Burch would love to see Rachel struggle in her potential career as a writer. Last seen entering a writer’s program at Berkeley, Rachel may or may not have the chops to succeed. Exploring that possibility and the inevitable push to be good at something would thrill Burch.
Maybe that’s something we could see in Season 3?
“I would like to see the struggle of watching someone who is not naturally gifted at something learn how to do it. I don’t think that Rachel is a naturally gifted writer. I think she probably enjoys it, but I think it’s gonna be a grind for her. For anyone that writes, that experience is painful and nerve-wracking. A lot of people think that well, if I’m not good at this thing almost immediately, then I just shouldn’t do it. Or I’m too scared to do it. I’m too scared of what I don’t know. It would be cool to see Rachel struggle with what she doesn’t know and then put in the work to get better.”