Poppy Li of Mythic Quest is messy and vain, and is a good role model for women in technology

At the staff meeting of the pilot episode of the Apple TV Plus comedy series Mythical missionPoppy Li, the lead game designer of the fictional multiplayer role-playing game company around the show, announced, “I don’t want to brag about my horn here, but my team and I have built something extraordinary.” From her The smug look on her face, it’s obvious that she Do Want to brag. Her confidence in herself is so ridiculous. She closed her eyes and imitated the action of blowing the trumpet, and then described her new addition, a basic shovel, as “providing a brand new game mechanism-digging.” Then she explained that this brilliant new dynamic “will change the game”.

As a major developer of very successful video games Mythical mission, And the upcoming expansion Crow’s Feast, Poppy paid more than just her dues. She deserves the respect of the entire industry. However, the way she boasted of her contribution in such a grand manner exceeded socially acceptable pride. It is very arrogant and I like every bit of it.

As a female software engineer and Asian, like Poppy, I think her arrogance is particularly refreshing, because it is so rare among women in technology. In our circles, the overwhelming common theme is that women suffer from imposter syndrome and have difficulty identifying our talents and self-worth. This is an excessive narrative, and I have experienced it so many times that it is no longer interesting to see a fictional character performing it. Usually, I like to show all kinds of human experiences on the screen, but watching another character endure imposter syndrome at this time feels like continuing a destructive myth.

Photo: Apple TV Plus

The truth is that it is difficult to keep up with technological developments, and it is impossible to exclude all uncertainties in a profession that challenges you to learn new skills and paradigms every day. Mythical missionBobby is admirable because she doesn’t question her technical ability even a minute. For her, the question has never been whether she can code, but how to write code and what code to write. Poppy, played by Australian actress Charlotte Nicdao, swaggered in her office, issued orders and quarreled with other leaders of the company, but she never doubted her ability or value. Although self-doubt is a common narrative for this kind of role, Mythical missionThe creator of has surpassed it.

This is not to say that they set Poppy as a shining example. She is the lead developer of the game, but she is not a good teammate. She loves to complain, is short-tempered, impulsive and stubborn. She is usually a little unkempt and wears a variation of the typical programmer’s uniform: zipper hoodie, tortoiseshell glasses, Converse shoes. She can’t delegate-when the masked person of the game’s non-playable character starts to give away free loot, she will resolve the mistakes by herself instead of looping through her team. Under stress, she suffered a sudden stress urticaria, stayed up late, and woke up the next morning with her greasy hair scattered on the keyboard in the programmer’s room.

And she is not a strong manager. She also hardly knows the names of her teammates. When one of the programmers, Paul, caught her attention, she said arrogantly, “Yes, this is bad, Zak.” When Paul corrected her name, she replied, “I don’t care.”

Charlotte Nicdao plays Poppy Li in Mythic Quest sitting in the office wrapped in a blanket, her programming team is beside her

Photo: Apple TV Plus

Bobby’s relationship with Michelle, the only other female developer in the series, is not much better. To be fair, Michelle barely completes her work and often readjusts her resume when it is obvious, but Bobby also discourages or motivates her. In one episode, Bobby pushed Michelle off his chair and took over a feature film. “Her job is terrible,” Bobby said in front of everyone, controlling the keyboard, while Michelle stood aside indifferently, typing on her phone.

But even that kind of rude behavior is an exciting step away from character norms. Surprisingly, Poppy cares so much about her own success, but rarely cares about her views. It violates every principle that I have always considered important: kindness, grumpiness, and support for other women. Anyone would hate working with Bobby in real life, but for pure entertainment, it’s exciting to see a woman of color acting like a rude, attention-seeking, empowered teenage boy—— Not only can you escape by chance, but you can also thrive.

If not carefully thought out, Poppy can be annoying. Nicdao gave her exaggerated facial expressions, tired irony, harmless anxiety, and childlike enthusiasm for her creative vision, all of which helped her to resonate with others. Poppy almost always frowned. Prone to self-conflict with the more selfish creative director Ian Green (series co-creator Rob McHenney), Bobby quickly became angry, and her voice rumbled with cartoonish anger. It solidifies in an instant, and then quickly dissipates. Poppy is cynical and suspicious. She is cute, but not overly sexy. Her dark hair is cut into practical layers. A plain, naked face and such manic eyes remind me of Invader Zim on the Nick’s International Children’s Channel show in the 2000s. . This combination makes the poppies delicious at first, but pleasing in the end.

As a decision maker and equalizer, Poppy tried to be taken seriously, overcompensating for human carelessness, and eventually collapsed, because unlike Ian, she was still humble enough to recognize that others were right. In the pilot broadcast, when Ian criticized Bobby’s shovel, she eventually succumbed and helped make changes to benefit the game. “You are a talented painter, and I am your favorite paintbrush… I’m just the tool you use to create masterpieces,” she told him, capturing the survival dilemma felt by many programmers—whether we are bricks. The craftsman is also a creative person. Bobby wanted more, and it was because of her arrogance that she had a chance to fight Ian’s arrogance.

Poppy Li, played by Charlotte Nicdao, becomes a little crazy while teaching a colleague in Mythic Quest

Photo: Apple TV Plus

Perhaps what I admire most is Poppy’s lack of charisma and leadership. For women in the technical field, there is a lot of self-evident pressure to shape good behavior-behave well, guide others, become eloquent role models and competent programmers, because we can pass purely Goodwill to repair the Brogrammer culture. Although these responsibilities may eventually make the industry more popular, it is another form of emotional labor and another unfair burden that is disproportionately imposed on women and people of color.

Generally, not only do we have to protect our work from additional scrutiny, but we must also do our best to defend ourselves inside and outside the organization. When we are promoted, we informally expect to attract more diverse talents. It’s exhausting to keep easing, to be the default role model for people like you, and to be constantly surpassed by people doing the same job under looser expectations and looser rules. The beauty of Poppy is that she doesn’t care about it. She knows her shortcomings, but will not try to hide or apologize.

At the “Women in the Game” luncheon in Season 2, Bobby’s speech fundamentally showed her lack of execution. Wearing an uncomfortable tight-fitting black sequin dress, she stumbled onto the stage, squinting at the teleprompter. After pulling out the glasses from the bag, dropping the candy in the process, unbuttoning the skirt and letting the straps flutter in the breeze, she began to say casually: “I can’t guarantee that I will never live up to the expectations of others. But I can guarantee that I will lead with everything I have…Why did you let me give this speech? I shouldn’t have a platform. I don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t know what women want. I I don’t know what I want.”

According to normal standards, that speech would be a disaster, but it was so relevant to me, it might be an excerpt from my own inner monologue. Many women in Bobby’s audience apparently had similar ideas, and they stood up and applauded. In a strange way, this is the kind of terrible, honest, unfiltered reality I have always wanted to see in the fictional world. To me, Bobby’s “crash” is the antidote to the institutionalized imposter syndrome and the over-polished “real” leadership that we often peddle. She did not suffer from suspicion, nor did she pretend to doubt, until she did. She sincerely admitted that she didn’t know certain things, didn’t let it hinder her work, and moved on. Few women are allowed to be admirable on TV.

Charlotte Nicdao plays Poppy Li in Mythic Quest, wearing a gray hoodie, smirking against the table

Photo: Apple TV Plus

But there was another turning point-after the presentation, we learned that these sneers and clumsiness were deliberate and were written by Ian as part of Bobby’s plan to get the new development team approved. This opening highlights Poppy’s genius. She is an imperfect leader with almost no ambition and no burden of caring. She still got what she wanted.for me, Mythical missionPoppy Li rarely shows how he feels liberated from expectations and indulged in strategic, aggressive, arrogant and unapologetic in the field of technology. She is not a role model, but perhaps she does provide us with a lesson: arrogance may be a necessary weapon for success, because if you don’t boldly believe in yourself, who will?

Two seasons Mythical mission Streaming on Apple TV Plus.