Tony Bennett once sang in his song “Rags to Riches” that “And though my pocket may be empty, I’d be a millionaire.” This song can complement the plot points of many films which display how money cannot indeed buy you everything.
But what about the reverse of that — going from riches to rags? At first, having all the money in the world, but realizing an emptiness almost as heartbreaking as an empty wallet. Well, that is what Apple TV’+’s “Loot” is attempting to focus on.
The series, which just released its first three episodes on June 24, fixates on billionaire Molly Novak (Maya Rudolph), who discovers her husband’s betrayal and then falls into a self-destructive spiral of drugs and lap-dancing. Luckily, the foundation Novak and her husband founded years ago offers a way for Molly to get back on track with her life. Even though Molly reverses from riches to rags hypothetically, with her $87 billion divorce settlement still handy in a pinch, she realizes there is a glimmer of hope. To her surprise, that hope is not jetting off to Miami at a moment’s notice, but rather using her platform for good and helping those in need.
Despite the storyline aiming toward a predictable ending of Molly putting kindness before wealth, the show would not be solid entertainment if it were not for Rudolph’s performance in the series. Even though just four episodes have been released, Rudolph carries the series with her billionaire swankiness and spot-on wit — making her a trendy version of Melinda Gates.
While Rudolph’s comedic talent was already known due to her seven years on “Saturday Night Live,” her character of Molly is a different take for the actress. Molly displays her humor in subtle ways — different from Rudolph’s typical roles that involve a more up-front and slapstick style of comedy. Nevertheless, Rudolph molds this character so that you love and hate her at the same time. Whether she is explicitly yelling on the popular show “Hot Ones” or stuffing her face with licorice in her home candy shop, the audience empathizes with Molly while also wanting to punch her squarely in her rich face.
Rudolph may be the selling point for this series, but there are also many new faces and rising stars that hit the ground running in “Loot.” MJ Rodriguez, best known for her Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated performance as Blanca in “Pose,” plays Sofia Salinas, the stern and awkward leader of Novak’s charity foundation. Among the cast, there is also Joel Kim Booster, a co-producer, and writer for the show “Big Mouth,” who portrays Molly’s assistant Nicholas. While introducing new faces to a series sparks the possibility of rising stars, the supporting cast is more like a dull flame compared to the fire created by Rudolph.
Simply put, “Loot” would not be the same without Maya Rudolph. Any scene that does not have Rudolph in it is a step in the wrong direction. The script is often very weak and without Rudolph’s quirky comedic style, the show would spiral downhill much faster.
As for audience reactions, the first three episodes of the series received an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes and many fans said on social media that the show is full of heart, but lacks the humor one would expect from a leading lady like Maya Rudolph.
I was thrilled to watch this show after seeing Maya Rudolph’s face plastered all over the advertisements, as her time on SNL and “Bridesmaids” was unforgettable. But, after the first 15 minutes of the first episode, I didn’t feel a connection to the characters anymore. One would hope this group could replicate the chemistry exhibited by shows like “Parks and Recreation” or “The Office,” but sadly the only thing of interest is Rudolph’s performance.
It’s not a total loss watching this series, but it’s not the big fortune you were expecting and hoping for. It’s like when you purchase the biggest lottery ticket out there and only end up winning five bucks.
“Loot” is available to stream on Apple TV+ and new episodes are released every Friday.