IIf I had to pick a time to release a TV series that not only asks for, but demands, sympathy for a billionaire so obscenely wealthy that she’s the third richest woman in America, I’m not sure I would. would throw in a hurry. right in the middle of an endemic cost of living crisis. Still, Loot (Apple TV+) has an ace up its sleeve in the form of Maya Rudolph, who plays Molly Novak, soon to be Wells, who will also soon be one of the Western world’s most famous cheated wives.
Molly is married to a tech baron, John Novak (Adam Scott, who really works for Apple TV+ after Severance), and lives an airy, withdrawn life of ultra-privilege and opulence. They have a mansion so vast that the team at Selling Sunset is like the realtor that once rented me an apartment with no sink, “but you can brush your teeth over the tub.” (I lived there for two years.) When she realizes that John has been having an affair with a much younger woman, she drives away from the wedding in one of their many color-coordinated supercars and wins 87 billions of dollars in divorce.
After the essential but not terrible staging of the first episode, where Molly and John’s sumptuous art of living is played out for rather hollow laughs – a megayacht with a full-time crepe maker! A spare pool for the dogs! The real seal! — he’s starting to settle into a much better and much hotter show than he first appears to be. Considering it was created by Parks and Rec alums Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard, and Parks and Rec was perhaps the most heartwarming show ever, that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
Molly’s scenes as a new divorcee, partying in Berlin, Phuket and Rio, living the hedonistic youth she never knew are fun, as are the themed costumes, but that’s only when ‘she starts looking for a life purpose it starts to get really interesting. Molly hasn’t worked since leaving college, but discovers that at some point a charitable foundation was set up in her name, with her money. Now, she decides, it’s time to roll up her sleeves and go to the office.
Although it’s initially disguised as a satire of the ultra-rich, the writers are smart enough to realize it’s a low hanging fruit, and what it actually turns out to be a sweet workplace comedy. Molly is a deaf and disconnected elitist whose attempts to bolster the good work of her foundation are truly appalling. When she gives an ill-advised speech at the opening of a new women’s shelter, I backed off so much I risked pulling a muscle. Do you think it would be impossible for Molly to come up with a new version of Beyoncé’s Single Ladies suitable for this situation? Think again.
Everything is treated with very good taste. Sofia (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez), who runs the foundation and does the inglorious job of fundraising, campaigning, and harassing elected officials for their attention, is the voice of reason, balancing Molly’s follies, though there are frequent nods to the lure of celebrity culture and how farcical it is that a famous name can sometimes do more just because of their notoriety. When you think it’s about to get too sweet and Molly gives her most moving speech about life and loss, Sofia bursts her bubble. “I’m sorry, I don’t care about any of that,” she said. It’s perfectly set up.
Loot, which is MacKenzie Scott’s story in many ways, needs Rudolph’s call to make it work, and she’s extraordinary here. But one of the lessons Molly has to learn is that it’s not all about her, and the supporting cast makes that easy for viewers to understand. He’s got a gaming sense of humor – Molly’s stint on Hot Ones, the spicy wings interview show on YouTube, is a treat – but he also hits the right notes when it comes to the stuff of welfare. His threads on friendship are genuinely touching, and he even nods to romantic comedy, though that doesn’t dominate or take over. In the end, it’s about a bad person, or at the very least naive, trying to become better.
Is it a bit preachy? Type of. Does he hedge his bets? Often. But by the end of the series, it’s done enough for you to care about its characters. In the finale, released in a few weeks, he finds a voice that’s more radical than his jokes about hot tubs and private jets would have led you to believe, while still retaining its sweetness and beauty.