Loot Review: Maya Rudolph Deserves Better

Maya Rudolph can be the star that you create a show around. A warm, charismatic performer who has jokingly described herself as a “2 3⁄4 threat,” the SNL alum has pipes that can belt out “Purple Rain” and win Emmys for voicing Big Mouth’sConnie, Hormone Monstress. Connie is also gifted at physical comedy. She is a true comedy genius. BridesmaidsCharacter sinks into street with frothy white dress billowing about her. Face registers every stage of humiliation.

Yet it’s still bafflingly rare to see Rudolph, a household name who played a God-like figure in The Good PlaceAnd an Oprah-like figure. All Night LongIn leading positions. One notable exception was 2018’s Forever“, an ambitious philosophical afterlife drama that portrayed Rudolph and Fred Armisen working together on unfinished business in The Great Beyond. Rudolph has now teamed back up with the creators of this show, Matt Hubbard & Alan Yang. LootApple TV+ Comedy, starring June 24, is about the unfaithful wife of multibillionaire. Unfortunately, it’s a much safer and more conventional show than its predecessor.

When we meet Rudolph’s Molly Wells, she’s swanning around on her new megayacht with her tech-mogul husband, John Novak (Adam Scott in toxic-nerd mode). That same day, she discovers he’s cheating with a woman half his age (Dylan Gelula). “I have been by your side for 20 years,” Molly screeches at him, incandescent with rage, in front of a crowd at her own birthday party. “I had sex with you when you had your weird body—before you fixed it with money!”

The divorce leaves her with $87 billion, and after a rebound tour that’s more dance-drink-drugs than eat-pray-love, she’s summoned to the offices of her foundation by its executive director, Sofia Salinas (Pose star Michaela Jaé Rodriguez). “I have an office?” Molly marvels. Sofia simply wants Sofia not to embarrass the charity with her intoxicated shenanigans. But Molly sees a chance to give her life purpose—or at least clap back at her selfish ex—by throwing herself into work with the foundation.

Maya Rudolph (left) and Michaela Jae Rodriguez (right), in “Loot”.

Apple TV+

At the conclusion of the premier LootA sitcom about a happy workplace that has taken the form of Parks and Recreation (where Yang got his start) and Apple’s megahit Ted Lasso. This ensemble is powerful: Fire Island breakout Joel Kim Booster, as Molly’s loyal, emotionally numb assistant, pairs nicely with the hilarious Ron Funches, as a gregarious cousin of Molly’s who parlayed his family connection into a job. Nat Faxon, whose credits recently include Gaslit, Our Flag Means DeathAnd Conners), as kind, divorced-dad milquetoast Arthur, makes a fine will-they-or-won’t-they for Molly—though an eventual love-triangle plot immediately feels trite.

The show struggles most in its attempts to set up a central tension between Molly’s high-spirited, spoiled naiveté and Sofia’s stern, mission-driven pragmatism. Although Rodriguez occasionally appeared stiff, the parts were well cast. Pose, her uptight vibe contrasts well with Rudolph’s easy charm. But both are underwritten, in scripts that thoughtlessly deem Sofia’s prickliness as worthy of criticism as Molly’s blithe profligacy. It’s not necessary for every show on the super-rich to be as incisive. SuccessionBut LootToo often it comes across as completely toothless.

A satire so clearly inspired by real people—Jeff Bezos and his ex-wife, the prolific philanthropist MacKenzie Scott—should have something substantive to say about a world where they play outsize roles. LootToo late in the season, Scott takes this risk without gaining insight into Molly’s past. Scott is a novelist; if Molly ever had talents or dreams or convictions of her own, we don’t find out about them. That the show is still intermittently amusing is a credit to Rudolph’s generous portrayal of an overindulged woman flailing. She and her castmates helped it to make its way to the next season, should Yang/Hubbard be allowed to correct the megayacht.

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