Created by Alan Yang & Matt Hubbard
Episodes : 10
Original Air Dates: 24th June 2022 – 12th August 2022
It seems something of a risk to launch a television series centred on a rich lead character during a cost of living crisis that is dominating the news cycle and which is affecting so many, especially a series that asks the audience to sympathise with a mega-rich lead character who can easily call on Seal to sing at their wedding anniversary.
On first glance, Loot is a series that is dripping with wealth and privilege and isn’t aiming for the bitter cold-hearted satire of Succession or the quirky wide-eyed insanity of Arrested Development. Arriving from creators Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard, writers whose filmography includes modern classic Parks and Recreation, it ends up sharing a similar sense of kind-heartedness and an ‘opposites work together’ central partnership as opposed to going in for the observational kill that characterises the work of Jesse Armstrong or Mitchell Hurwitz.
Thankfully, Loot is not a series that revels too much in the affluent lifestyle of Maya Rudolph’s lead character Molly Wells. Yang and Hubbard’s writing has the series look upon her luxurious Californian mansion, succession of maids, chefs and helping staff and seemingly never ending wealth with a modicum of disbelief and cynicism.
Beginning with the breakdown of her marriage to her billionaire husband John (clearly a stand-in for either Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk and played with douchebag brilliance by Adam Scott), the series eventually has her take a key interest in her charity organization and soon becomes something of a lushly produced Apple+ office set-sitcom with its quirky ensemble and gently observed moments that combines gentle comedy with occasional poignancy, albeit with a few more four letter words dotted around the dialogue just to remind you that we’re not on NBC anymore.
When it comes to television series dealing with the rich and the affluent, Succession is the one that instantly comes to mind. That series is drenched in vitriolic satire and observations of its characters that cannot help but intoxicatingly draw you into its incredibly engrossing orbit. Loot isn’t going for that. It’s a much more overt comedy and some of that good natured humour lands beautifully, a lot of it is helped further by its cast, not least Rudolph.
For the first half of this season, the series makes a lot of the right choices; Rudolph brings a level to the character that is charmingly naive but which manages to stay on the right side of lovable and which never sells the character out in terms of her intelligence. Molly be naive and occasionally have no idea how the world works, but the series never for one moment plays her as dumb.
Michaela Jae Rodriguez grounds the more absurd moments by off-setting the quirk and silliness with a level of realism that proves welcoming for anyone who might initially be put off by the prospect of a series about rich people when in real life many are struggling with bills and being able to live at all. She is the voice of reason throughout and is very welcome for doing so, and similar to her star-making performance in Pose, there is a dignified sympathy to her performance that cannot help but make you like her from the moment she arrives.
Like with Parks and Recreation, Yang and Hubbard find an emotional through line here with two characters from not only diametrically opposed places in life, but in the very experiences they have but who find a common ground in the middle and end up doing great work together as a result. It might be a trope at this stage, but its ends up working well when used brilliantly and this dynamic is no exception.
Things somewhat lose traction in the second half with the introduction of a love interest in the shape of Oliver Rodriguez and a more overtly serious tone that initially seems welcome but which doesn’t quite compare to Yang’s work on Master of None.
It does eventually build to a final episode that hits hard with a surprisingly relevant and potent final message that leaves the second season an enticing prospect and a final scene that is a legitimately surprising one.
Throughout the season there are many laugh-out loud moments, not least a brilliant Hot Ones sequence that may rank as one of the absolute funniest scenes of any comedy series this year, and while the second half’s less assured footing brings with it some storytelling moments that don’t quite work as successfully as with its earlier episodes, there’s still a lot here that ensures you’ll want to come back for seconds.