At the heart of Loot is Maya Rudolph’s character, fictional billionairess Molly Novak (née Wells), a woman recently set free from a terrible marriage and finally given the runway to discover who she is and what she wants out of her one precious life. Molly is one of the richest women in the world and decides to become a better person by participating in her namesake charity foundation which, to be fair, she didn’t even know she was funding. But are Molly’s intentions purely altruistic? Questionable!
Before Molly can even think about getting involved in charity work, she’s gotta grieve. It’s not long before her jet setting, drug-taking, all-night-partying escapades trigger a call from charity foundation leader Sofia Salinas’ (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez). Sofia calls Molly into the office after Molly’s antics begin drawing bad press that reflects poorly on the foundation, limiting their ability to do their good work. Sofia is a type-A hardass who takes a borderline militant approach to helping the underserved communities around Los Angeles, and Molly is impressed. Also a little scared? Whatever this feeling is, Molly sees it as the answer she’s been looking for. A direction toward some new chapter in her life. Molly decides to get way more involved in the foundation and as the office’s newly more present, more than a figurehead, boss adds Michael Scott vibes into Sofia’s regimented workflow completely derailing everything and immediately causing chaos. Hilarious chaos. The show takes its time establishing the odd-couple report between these two powerhouse women, but in time, we come to see how they each have something to inspire in the other.
Sofia is the show’s moral center, grounding its reality around the fact that this is a comedy set at a charity. Sofia is the compass righting the ship time and time again back toward the foundation’s mission. All Sofia cares about is doing right by the underserved people she’s been tasked to help through this foundation. That singular focus can cost Sofia relationships as well as her physical well-being. Not to mention office morale. Molly swoops in to rustle Sofia’s feathers a little and unexpectedly begins fostering something completely heretofore foreign to the office — fun. And yet, is Sofia right? Is Molly drawing focus away from what really matters here? Helping people? Without Sofia anchoring the office and this show in what is right, centering a narrative on a protagonist like Molly Wells feels frivolous and problematic. I mean, Jack Donaghy isn’t the protagonist of 30 Rock for a reason.
Yet Rudolph, genius comedian and actress that she is though, dives into her interpretation of a billionairess with nuanced empathy that assuages those potential complaints. Molly is certainly out of touch, having spent so many years engulfed in the life of the 1%. And yet, this divorce rattles something deep within her. At the heart of this comedy is the story of a woman unraveling the worldview she’s held for decades. While the tactics of the rich and pampered don’t all translate appropriately to the world of charitable foundation work — most times causing a media cyclone that threatens the very foundation of the foundation — there are elements of Molly’s learnings from the lifestyle of the rich and fabulous that do, in time, help her overworked team begin to unravel the scarcity mindsets keeping their efforts small.
While Molly and Sofia’s dynamic is the heart of Loot, the show also offers powerful side character storylines too. Two of the most profoundly heartfelt elements of the show are its performances by Joel Kim Booster who plays Molly’s assistant Nicholas and Ron Funches who plays Molly’s cousin Howard, a familial tie he leveraged a while back to get his job with Molly’s charity. These two characters could not be from more different worlds. Nicholas is a low-key aspiring actor (don’t tell anyone) who draws all of his self-worth from his title as Molly’s assistant and the perks that title affords. Howard is a jovial member of the foundation’s team who is happy to finally have the chance to reconnect with his cousin and is also caught up in a wildly toxic relationship with his girlfriend Tanya (Amber Chardae Robinson). Nicholas loves the lux life, the bougier the better. In Nicholas, Howard sees friendship material. Their odd-couple dynamic parallels that of Molly and Sofia. Over the course of the season, they grow from one another as much, if not more, than Molly and Sofia. Theirs is truly a bromance for the ages.
Of course, no workplace comedy would be complete without a will they-won’t they storyline. For this, Loot turns to Arthur (Nat Faxon). Arthur is an accountant. Also a divorcee. A kind, caring, simple, mild-mannered guy. If you were scanning a room, you might miss him. Hardly the Casanova one would expect to generate any sort of romantic kindling in a worldly dame like Molly Wells. And yet, their friendship throughout the first season injects such a delightful, heartfelt compassion and healing into this show. It becomes a steady reminder of what launched Molly down this path in the first place — a divorce. By working in the charity world, trying to heal the disparities around her, Molly slowly but surely begins healing herself. Unexpectedly, her presence also begins healing and improving the lives of those working in her foundation’s office. They are impacted in a way none of them saw coming, and this growth and change makes Loot more than just a half-hour comedy.
Overall, while Loot takes its time building momentum, spending a bit more attention on its lead’s solo journey than absolutely necessary, once Molly is in the mix with her new teammates and the premise is really on its way, this show evokes all the feels. Maya Rudolph is at her best, shining just as bright as the rest of this rockstar cast.
Loot premieres June 24, 2022 on Apple TV+.