Loot: Bodhisattva billionaire

This effervescent Maya Rudolph vehicle from Matt Hubbard and Alan Yang indulges in the voyeuristic trappings of wealth for entertainment while also lampooning out-of-touch one-percenters – but its heart is in the right place.

Maya Rudolph in Loot (2022)

Absolute power corrupts absolutely – and the path to power is usually paved with wealth. Myriad shows, from Succession to Selling Sunset, have explored the impact of money on morality, and in most cases the results are not particularly pretty.

Not so with new Apple TV+ comedy Loot, from Parks and Recreation creators Matt Hubbard and Alan Yang, which aims to put a more palatable spin on this rich (wo)man’s world with the story of Molly (Maya Rudolph), who enjoys a lifestyle fuelled by the vast fortunes of her tech mogul husband John (Adam Scott). When she finds out that John is having an affair with his young assistant, however, Molly wastes no time in seeking a divorce.

Other narratives might have used this as a device to strip Molly of her assets and catapult her into normality, but Loot is more concerned with exploring the age-old question of whether money – and lots of it – can ever buy happiness. Molly’s divorce settlement nets her $87 billion, and the status of third-wealthiest woman in America; as we see in early episodes, this gives her the opportunity to drown her sorrows with bestie Nicholas (Joel Kim Booster) in multiple countries, or comfort-eat the contents of her own sweet shop.

Despite this commitment to hedonism, Molly needs a purpose – and, when she decides to get more involved with her charitable foundation, Loot also begins to find its footing. Despite the initial reluctance of charity head Sofia Salinas (a deliciously acerbic Michaela Jaé Rodriguez), who is concerned Molly’s need to find herself will overshadow their unsung good work, Molly throws herself into philanthropy – with initially disastrous (and often hilarious) results. A speech at the opening of a homeless shelter ends with a cringeworthy rendition of Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ (“All the unhoused ladies…”). An appearance on real-life YouTube show ‘Hot Wings’, where guests eat increasingly spicy chicken wings, is a sweaty, sweary, laugh-out-loud hot mess.

Just as Rudolph unabashedly leans into all the ridiculous humour of Molly’s situation, she also mines the character’s vulnerability; crucially, this is a woman who has given over her entire identity to supporting her husband’s dream and must now find out who she really is. Even though her privilege is a stumbling block to enlightenment – she’s so cloistered she thinks homeless women may be in keen need of scented candles and waffle irons – her heart is always in the right place. That can also be said of the show as a whole, which, despite attempting to indulge in the voyeuristic trappings of wealth for entertainment while simultaneously lampooning out-of-touch one-percenters, delivers on its good intentions.

► Loot is available to stream on Apple TV+ now.