“You never think stuff like this is going to happen to you,” Molly Novak tells her assistant Nicholas, not long after she finds out that her husband has been sleeping with someone much younger than her. Molly’s correct, as people assume the things they see on film, tv or read in a book are hyperbolic situations that could never actually affect them. This is how Loot, AppleTV+’s new comedy from creators Alan Yang (Master of None) and Matt Hubbard (who has written for 30 Rock and Superstore), draws in the viewer. The situation might not be everyone’s experience, but the realism of Molly’s struggle will surely resonate with viewers.
Loot follows Molly Novak (Maya Rudolph) as she tries to pick up the pieces of her life after divorcing her husband, John (Adam Scott). Without a prenup, Molly gets half of everything her Husband has, which equals to the amount of almost $80 billion. She spends her time in a fog, her assistant Nicholas (played by the talented Joel Kim Booster) attempting to help her find her way out of the shadows of a broken heart and constant partying. While she’s wallowing in her misery, she receives a call from a woman named Sofia (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez), who reveals to Molly that she’s the Executive Director of Molly’s charity organization, The Wells Foundation. Sofia’s call sounds important, asking Molly to come into her office the next day to have a chat. When she gets there, Sofia tells Molly that her image is very important to the organization, asking her to reel back on her partying to be a better face for the charity. After the meeting (and a ribbon-cutting event full of awkwardness), Molly tells Sofia that she wants to be part of the daily workings of the The Wells Foundation, citing her unstable sense of self as the catalyst to her new desire to start working. This is when the series really hits its stride.
The subsequent episodes detail Molly’s experience working with the charity and it’s a total hoot. Maya Rudolph, known for her Emmy-winning work on SNL Big Mouth and Emmy-nominated appearances on The Good Place (amongst many others), dives headfirst into her character. Rudolph understands this character, her struggles and her high-points, and brings her usual charm and hilarity to the role. She plays the character with a hidden strength and makes the character relatable, since most people will not be able to see some of themselves in Molly’s rich world where her every whim is catered to. Nicholas is always there to support her and get her needs met. Booster says each sentence with full commitment, the role seemingly crafted to meet his sense of humor. Rudolph and Booster together is a hilarious combination and, even though he isn’t around too much in the first couple of episodes, Booster makes the most out of these few lines.
The following episodes (out of the six that were given to critics) bring in Nicholas more frequently and gives Booster plenty to work with. Most will remember Michaela Jaé Rodriguez for her Emmy-nominated performance in Pose, but now fans will get to see a more comedic side of the actress. Rodriguez’s Sofia is a no-nonsense type of woman who will do anything she can to help people, but as she gets closer to Molly and her guard lets down, we get to see a lighter side to her. Rodriguez nails the funnier portions of her role, her comedic timing and line deliveries spot-on every time. The people that work inside The Wells Foundation are just as good, especially stand-out Ron Funches, who plays Molly’s distant cousin Howard. Funches is hilarious, giving some of the best line deliveries on the show.
The writing on the show is at times affecting and funny as Molly’s journey into charity work goes deeper. The writing not only highlights Molly’s faults, making her a more relatable character, while also championing her strengths as a woman who’s made a decision that she wants to change her way of life (but not lose the money, of course). The characters all have distinct personality traits that not only highlight the actors’ strengths, but also make these characters feel more real. As mentioned before, Nicholas is only in a few scenes in the first couple of episodes, but as the series goes on, the writing explores Nicholas’ life as a gay man and a wannabe actor, allowing Joel Kim Booster a chance to shine as he portrays his characters insecurities with how his life has turned out. Sofia could have easily been a two-dimensional character as a stern boss, but she is given nuance as she’s introduced to Molly’s way of life, which allows the character nuance as she opens her mind to new possibilities. In terms of the best lines given to these characters, the dialogue given to Howard is by far the funniest. He’s an earnest guy, who happens to be a distant cousin of a billionaire, who genuinely wants to help people succeed and reach their full potential. When Howard is on screen, expect something that will either make you laugh or make you think. That’s how the series excels: it creates an innate humanity with each of its characters that will draw the audience in further as the episodes go by.
The series grows more charming each episode, drawing a throughline with the emotional needs of each character: they all want to be themselves and respected for it. All of the performances are great, each actor giving their all to the series, with Rudolph giving a sublime lead performance. The writing is sure to make audiences laugh and think about their own lives, their own wants and dreams, as it pushes the characters out of their comfort zones into a stage of growing and learning more about themselves. Small truths are revealed along the way about each character, adding even more depth to each of them. For a show about a billionaire, the series will make the audience see themselves in at least one way.
AppleTV+ will release the first three episodes of Loot on June 24, with new episodes weekly.
Photo courtesy of AppleTV+