- By Travis McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, and Clint McElroy
- Reviewed by Alex Kolodney
Racial Representation: 2.5
LGBTQ+ Representation: 4
Disability Representation: 1
Body Size Representation: 0
Gender Representation: 4
Socioeconomic Representation: 0
Mental Health Representation: 0
Religious Representation: 0
Own Voice: No
The Adventure Zone is a Dungeons & Dragons podcast hosted by the McElroy brothers, Griffin, Travis, and Justin, and their father Clint. The first story arc, the Balance arc, follows three adventures: Taako, the aloof yet humorous elven wizard (played by Justin); boisterous human fighter Magnus Burnsides (played by Travis); and chill, dim-witted dwarf cleric Merle Highchurch (played by Clint). The trio join each other for what they believe will be a quick bodyguard job, they soon find themselves wrapped up in the search for the Grand Relics, dangerously powerful magical items. Because podcasts are a non-visual medium, and the McElroys don’t consider most of their character appearance descriptions canon, few of the humanoid characters have confirmed races/skin tones. However, Lucretia, a major NPC non-player character, is confirmed to be a Black woman. She is a multidimensional character, but aside from one description of her appearance, her race is not a part of the story. The story contains several queer characters. One of the main characters is gay, and significant NPCs include characters who are gay, lesbian, and a trans woman. The first two queer characters introduced are victims of the Bury Your Gays trope, but Griffin, the DM later acknowledged his lack of knowledge around the trope and apologized, and revived the characters through magical means One character is regarded as nonbinary by the creators, but they misgender the character, and the character is less humanoid that most of the cast. One of the main characters becomes disabled during the series (an arm is amputated, and later, he loses an eye), but he receives a magical prosthetic for his arm, and the way his disabilities may affect him is not acknowledged. The cast of the podcast is full of multidimensional female characters with arcs outside of the male characters. However, because all characters besides the three player characters are played by Griffin, relationships between female characters are often not fully fleshed out, to prevent long sequences of Griffin talking to himself.
Because the cast of the podcast is a family of four white, cisgender, straight men, all of these characters are played by them, including the trans female character and Black female character. This was not done out of erasure, but out of creating representation in a podcast with a set cast. Their portrayals are generally considered respectful.