“It was by far the hardest production I’ve ever been a part of,” reveals Rob McElhenney about the ‘Quarantine’ episode of “Mythic Quest.” In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), he adds, “We had to write it, produce it and edit it in three weeks. And none of us could leave our homes. But it also made it the episode of television I’m most proud. It took the full focus, ingenuity, patience and creativity of the entire crew. 150 people coming together to execute it as quickly as we did. I think we delivered something that’s very special.”
“Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet” is the new Apple TV+ comedy series about the team behind a best selling multiplayer video game. The show delves into interoffice battles and rivalries with competitors in the high stakes world of creativity, commerce and ridiculousness. McElhenney created the show and serves as an actor, writer, director and producer. Last month, the special ‘Quarantine’ episode was released about the team having to cope with life in COVID-19 lock-down. He confesses, “The genesis was a simple one, trying to get back to work and the crew paid for a couple of weeks. We thought, ‘How can we shoot something from Quarantine?’ We then decided if we were going to do something, we wanted it hold up as a premium episode of the show. Not something we had to apologize for in terms of quality somewhere down the road. If you watched it in five years from now it would hold up just as good, if not better, than any episode we’ve ever done.”
The “Quarantine” episode centers around the team connecting with each other online. It involves a touching scene where one member checks-in on another’s mental health and a ridiculous virtual Rube Goldberg Machine. McElhenney explains, “We’re a comedy. So if we could make an episode that brought a little levity for people who are going through some very strange times that would be a win. And then to make people feel a little bit optimistic and a little less alone was our goal. We were telling the story about people working together for a common goal, which was the Rube Goldberg sequence. It was fun, silly and not heavy handed, yet still felt thematically intertwined with what we are going through as a worldwide community right now. We are all working towards a common goal which is overcoming something. And if just one of us messes up it doesn’t work. We also wanted to explore the area of mental health and make sure we were respecting and honoring that instead of exploiting it. We were recognizing that physical health is a paramount importance, but it shouldn’t supersede mental health.”
McElhenny leads the cast as Ian Grimm, the self involved and confident creative director of the ‘Mythic Quest’ game. He has also plays Mac on ‘It’s Always Sunny’ in Philadelphia,’ another show he created 14 seasons ago. The actor explains, “I’m fascinated with Masculinity. Both Mac and Ian share a lot of commonalities. Something that they do not share is that Ian in incredibly intelligent; Mac is a moron. I have to think how to navigate that and allow Ian’s ignorance or narcissism or body dysphoria to come from a very different point of view.”
The creator wanted “Mythic Quest” to reflect the diversity and reality of the gaming world. He says, “anybody over the age of 35 working in those companies tends to be men. The younger characters on the show tend to be 50% to 75% female. That’s very true because over the course of the past 15 years the video game industry has made a concerted effort to hire more women. But they are hiring them in entry level positions and they are slowly working their way up. That’s what we saw to be true and we wanted to make sure we reflected that accurately.”
“Mythic Quest” will be eligible this year in the comedy series categories at the Emmy awards. McElhenny reflects, “I’ve been doing this now for 14 years on my other show, and I started that when I was very young. I’m not very young anymore. I see very often people take for granted what we get to do for a living. I still walk into that sound stage every day and I marvel..”
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