Metadrama is a literary device that describes a play within a play, a famous example being the performance the court watches in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The writers of The Last Airbender use this device in two episodes that feature The Ember Island Players. The theater troupe appears in two episodes, “The Ember Island Players” and “Sozin’s Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King” near the end of Book 3, Fire.
When the troupe put on a play about the adventures of Aang and his companions, entitled The Boy in the Iceberg, Team Avatar don some disguises and go to a play about themselves. It’s not only a brilliant way to get through the usually tiresome flashback episode, but a venue to make some snide jokes at the difference between reality and entertainment. Some awesome actors brought these characters to life.
8 Dee Bradley Baker – Ember Island Jet, Ozai, and Bumi
Dee Bradley Baker not only plays several of the minor roles in The Boy in the Iceberg production, he also plays several regular characters throughout the series. That includes Momo, Appa, and minor appearances in no less than 60 other episodes. His voice is also part of the cast on shows like American Dad and SpongeBob SquarePants. The roles he voices in the play include the main villain, Ozai, who is portrayed as a good-natured hero, and the nuanced Jet. The latter’s ultimate ending was never determined, and the script includes an inside joke about the dropped thread.
7 John DiMaggio – Ember Island Toph and Iroh
It’s not obvious at first, but John DiMaggio is also noted among animation fans for his work as Bender on Futurama. What’s even funnier about this is that it’s a reference to Toph’s original incarnation. The character was first designed to be a big, chunky man. It’s a nice touch that he retains the hairstyle. The writers also take a shot at the superhero and mutant genres by changing Fake Toph’s power to a sonic wave instead of using vibrations in the ground. The Real Toph, unlike her friends, is absolutely thrilled by her portrayal. He also provides Fake Iroh’s comical throw-away lines about good, evil, and Zuko’s hair.
6 Derek Basco – Ember Island Zuko
That last name isn’t just a coincidence. Derek is Dante Basco’s brother, the voice actor behind the Real Zuko. Derek has a rare chance here. He can make fun of both one of the Airbender’s most melodramatic companions and tease his real-life brother.
No other character gets lampooned so much other than Katara. Fake Zuko isn’t only more melodramatic, but the scar is on the wrong side of his face and there are several jokes about his hairstyle, which seems to change along with his character arc.
5 Rachel Dratch – Ember Island Aang
This entry is funny for a number of reasons, starting with the references to other productions like Peter Pan and the pressure on the show’s creators to cast a female voice actor in Aang’s part. Why not? It worked on The Simpsons. In this case, it was comedic heavyweight Rachel Dratch who made a special guest appearance and lent her voice to Fake Aang. Fans can also see her extensive work on several full-length movies and televion shows like Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock.
4 Scott Menville – Ember Island Sokka
Sokka didn’t hate how he was portrayed in the play, unlike Katara and Aang who despised their parts, but he didn’t exactly love it either. Out of all the whiners on Team Avatar, Real Sokka was the only one who took some initiative to help Fake Sokka improve. In reality, the voice of Fake Sokka was a seasoned actor and musician, Scott Menville, who voices a number of characters in seven episodes of the series. His voice acting talents have been used on a wide variety of other shows, including Teen Titans and Justice League.
3 Tara Strong – Azula
The Azula depicted in The Boy in the Iceberg doesn’t have a lot in common with her counterpart. Certain feminine qualities, like her makeup and fingernails, were exaggerated, similar to how Katara’s clothes and body were altered. She’s also a good guy, because this play is for a Fire Nation audience, after all. Not only do we have a critical comment about how female characters are used in entertainment but also a hint at how the media is used as propaganda when politics are involved.
Tara Strong, the voice behind Fake Azula, has an impressive resume that includes video games and live-action television in addition to her numerous contributions as a voice actor. The character of Raven from Teen Titans is one of her more popular roles.
2 Jennie Kwan – Princess Yue
The Fire Nation’s attack on the Northern Water Tribe was a pivotal moment in the series, so naturally, there’s a scene depicting the event in The Boy in the Iceberg. Suki seems jealous and makes fun of Sokka for how this scene affects him emotionally. This is pickled herring, after all, and Suki might not be able to compete. Some fans are in on the ironic twist, however. Jennie Kwan, Suki’s voice actress, is also the voice behind Fake Princess Yue.
1 Grey DeLisle – Katara
In another interesting plot twist, one of the show’s most brutal villains becomes one of the heroes. Grey DeLisle is the actor who gave us the savage and uncompromising Azula, and she also lends her voice to Fake Katara in the play. It’s worthy to note that Fake Katara is more voluptuous, has a long slit up the side of her robe, and cries a lot. This is no doubt throwing some shade at how female characters are often portrayed in media, especially in stories about superheroes or adventure.
NEXT: Katara’s 10 Most Inspiring Quotes In Avatar: The Last Airbender