In one of the only times anyone’s told Molly (Maya Rudolph) the hard truth in the decades since her husband (Adam Scott) became a billionaire, she’s stuck in a private jet hangar somewhere in the middle of Oklahoma. Having just tried essentially to airlift the staff of her foundation, which she only realized existed after very messy public divorce, to Miami for the weekend, Molly’s forced to face the fact that she’s been living in a completely different reality from 99.9% of the rest of the world.
“Your life is different from everyone else’s here. It’s completely frictionless!” explains Sofia (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez), her perpetually unimpressed foundation director. “Anything you want to happen, happens.” Our lives are filled with friction … You can’t just pack us up and move us around like we’re luggage.”
This crucial scene marks a turning point for Molly, who then recommits herself to using the $87 billion she won in the divorce to enact real good. But it’s also a bit of a neat encapsulation of “Loot,” Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard’s new Apple TV+ comedy about Molly’s attempts to remember what life was like before her personality got buried underneath jaw-dropping piles of money. For as much as both the show and Rodriguez’s blunt Sofia try to lay out the importance of her foundation’s mission, and Molly’s bizarre bubble of a life, the first season of “Loot” is most often a pleasantly frictionless workplace comedy. But the moments in which it’s not — whether by pushing Molly to become more self-aware or into situations where her money’s genuinely useless — are the show’s most compelling by a long shot.
The season’s 10 half-hour episodes, three of which premiere on June 24, breeze by with only occasional roadblocks and the knowledge that Molly and her billions will almost definitely be just fine. (There’s also something unavoidably ironic about a comedy showing the self-centered follies of billionaires on Apple TV+, a network owned by the first company ever to be worth three trillion dollars, but so it goes in the age of rampant capitalism.) Even as it boasts the Apple gloss and budget (the music drops alone!), “Loot” bears more than a few similarities to “Parks and Recreation,” the beloved NBC sitcom about fiercely loyal government employees that counted both Yang and Hubbard among its most stalwart writers.
This isn’t an insult; one of “Parks and Rec”’s greatest strengths was establishing a believable core group of characters that made going to work with them a treat rather than a chore, and the same holds true for “Loot.” In addition to Sofia, who heads up the team with an iron will that only occasionally cracks (e.g. when she finds out Molly’s personal chef is David Chang), there’s dependable accountant Arthur (Nat Faxon) and Molly’s sweet cousin Howard (Ron Funches). The odd couple of Ainsley (Stephanie Styles) and Rhonda (Meagen Fay) are mostly there to round out the cast with weirdo sidebar jokes rather than the more fleshed out storylines Arthur and Howard get, but they’re welcome just the same. And as Molly’s exacting assistant Nicholas, “Fire Island” writer and star Joel Kim Booster continues to build on his breakout summer with one of the show’s funniest and most affecting performances.
For as charming as the rest of the cast is, though, “Loot” would simply fall to pieces without someone like Rudolph anchoring it to the ground. Four years after Yang and Hubbard’s Amazon comedy “Forever,” and with two new Emmy awards to her name, Rudolph finally has a starring TV vehicle of her own and quickly demonstrates why it’s so overdue.
Even when Molly’s at her selfish worst, Rudolph’s innate warmth and charm makes it hard to completely hate her. In fact, Rudolph’s so good at throwing hilarious tantrums that watching Molly melt down becomes an unparalleled joy. (The show’s soft banter is mostly good for chuckles, but Molly suffering her way through a flat-out hilarious “Hot Ones” interview is worth the price of admission alone.) Whether playing off Rodriguez’s sharper energy, gently flirting with Faxon’s Arthur, or feeding off of Booster’s material disdain, Rudolph proves herself an expert at making every scene count. If a second season decides to throw Molly even further out of her comfort zone than the first, it would at least have one of TV’s most game actors to take her there.
“Loot” premieres with three episodes Friday, June 24 before dropping one new episode weekly on Apple TV+.