Pilot -| Review Score – 3/5
Bienvenidos a Miami -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Hot Seat -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Excitement Park -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Halsa -| Review Score – 2.5/5
The Philanthropic Humanitarian Awards -| Review Score – 3/5
French Connection -| Review Score – 2/5
Spades Night -| Review Score – 2/5
Cahoga Lake -| Review Score – 2.5/5
The Silver Moon Summit -| Review Score – 2.5/5
‘Loot’ Season 1 Review
In Loot, Apple TV’s new comedy series from creators Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard, Maya Rudolph is Molly Wells Novak, newly-minted billionaire and third-richest woman in the world. When her husband John Novak (Adam Scott) cheats on her with a younger woman, Molly is left to nurse her wounds with a generous divorce settlement of around 80 billion dollars. And since money can’t fill the hole in Molly’s heart, some charity work at her own non-profit foundation will have to do.
Learning about real problems in her community for the first time, Molly wants to help–but her involvement might just make things worse for the Wells Foundation and its director.
As the executive director of the Wells Foundation, Sofia Salinas (the stellar Michaela Jaé Rodriguez) serves as a voice of reason throughout Molly’s journey to self-realization. Often Loot’s moral compass, Sofia is the writers’ attempt to create a catch-all character who both represents the intended principles of the show and also balances out Molly’s superficiality.
In one scene, a ridesharing service takes Sofia to a charity event through an area heavily-populated by homeless people. The driver remarks that “those people need to get off their asses and get a job,” leading Sofia to stop the car and walk the rest of the way. “I have a lifelong policy that if someone says ‘those people,’ I end the conversation,” she says. “So, thank you. You have a nice day.”
It’s this sort of backbone and no-nonsense quality that makes Sofia immediately likable–but her innate goodness is ultimately a poor attempt to give Loot its moral heart. For all the show’s posturing on behalf of those less privileged, Loot still has its feet firmly planted in the world of the one percent.
For the first half of season 1, the working class characters from the Wells Foundation are depicted as little more than caricatures–especially next to Molly’s lively persona and fleshed out problems. And the perspectives of those living in poverty feature even less prominently.
That is, except for in one episode, where concerned LA citizens speak against Molly. They rightly don’t want a billionaire making decisions for their neighborhood. But their concerns are brushed aside, and they are portrayed as hateful, spiteful agitators rather than commentators with intelligent criticisms.
To be fair to the creators’ intent, it’s clear by the end of season 1 that Loot is very intentionally satirizing the self-proclaimed “heroic” status of the world’s billionaires. But while Molly may have been a tongue-in-cheek object lesson in “how to billionaire” all along, that doesn’t necessarily make her journey a worthwhile one to follow.
There are essentially two sides to Molly’s character arc. One is a moving journey of self-actualization and healing in the wake of her husband’s betrayal. The other is a trite storyline in which Molly goes from using charity to feel good about herself to learning about ways she can actually enact change. Despite the more sensitive place Loot eventually takes Molly’s character, it can’t make up for the series of blunders it took to get there. From the beginning to the end of the season, it’s extremely difficult to invest oneself in Molly’s personal story arc, despite Rudolph’s sheer charisma and talent.
If Loot is to be pitched as a show to take down billionaires and champion the working class, there are certainly better ways to do so than center a billionaire protagonist.
The comedy could have gotten the same message across more effectively by following a character like Sofia, or Molly’s assistant Nicholas (Joel Kim Booster)–people (with more relatable obstacles) who have a foot in both worlds. Throughout the majority of season 1, however, Molly Wells Novak is part of one world only–and it’s not the one Loot is supposedly championing.
The first three episodes of Loot premiere June 24th on Apple TV Plus.
Verdict - 5.3/10