By George Kozera
Infrequently, something happens to my body chemistry, and I react in a way that is anathema to me. I belly laugh. Unlike the legendary line from Greta Garbo’s Oscar-nominated performance in “Ninotchka” – “I never laugh” – I usually respond to a Comedy bit with a smile or a tee-hee-hee and sometimes even with a hearty guffaw. So, imagine my complete surprise when, after watching the first three episodes of the Apple TV+ latest series LOOT, that genuinely earned belly laughs erupted from me. And not just once…I mean, consistently.
When Molly Novak (Maya Rudolph) discovers that her billionaire husband of 20 years is having an affair, her life spirals; even more so when she is awarded $87 billion dollars as a divorce settlement and is partying to excess with her faithful assistant Nicholas (Joel Kim Booster). When contacted by Sofia Salinas (MJ Rodriguez) to attend a meeting, Molly is surprised to learn that she has a Charity Foundation and is asked to stop creating bad press as it hinders their abilities to raise funds. Taking stock, Molly decides to work at the Foundation and alongside Sofia’s team, which includes Accountant Arthur (Nat Faxon) and Molly’s cousin Howard (Ron Funches), she embarks on a journey of giving back and self discovery.
Essentially working with the standard sitcom convention, a Workplace Comedy, LOOT elevates the genre with exceptional writing, inspired direction, a killer Soundtrack by The Math Club (mad respect for choosing Rita Coolidge’s “Higher and Higher” and “Free” by Deniece Williams in the same episode), and interiors so lavish, whether they be mansions, private jets or yachts, that they make “Dynasty” look humble.
What hoists LOOT into gold bar stratosphere is the unsurpassed genius performances by this must-be critically-lauded Cast. I will even go on record that this is the best Ensemble Cast I’ve watched since the final two seasons of my perpetual all-time favourite TV Sitcom of all time, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”: there’s even a Mary Richards/Lou Grant vibe between Molly and Sofia. As the Pop Culture-loving Howard, Ron Funches takes his beloved teddy bear persona to glorious effervescent heights. Nat Faxon (recently seen on the HBO Series “Gaslit” and playing Jackie’s boyfriend on “The Conners”) takes his mild-mannered Accountant role as Arthur, who may or may not be developing a huge crush on Molly and infused it with vulnerability and an abundance of charm. Joel Kim Booster (Writer, Director and Star of one of my favourites of 2022, “Fire Island”) has the lion share of LOL moments and his delivery are as pitch-perfect as are his more quieter, introspective moments. We all knew that MJ Rodriguez (who made history as the first trans woman nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for “Pose”) has tempered dramatic skills, but who knew this woman also has enviable comedic chops as well?
And conducting this symphony of astonishing performances is the Maestro herself, the superlative Rudolph. Her comedic skills have always been impeccable (she won an Emmy for her five-minute stint on SNL playing Kamala Harris) but her rare forays into Drama (check-out her performance in “Away We Go”) have impressed. What she achieves in LOOT is virtuoso, a hypnotic display and array of emotional depth and perfect comic timing. I’ve always liked her a lot – now I want us to be Besties!
We have been fortunate to have seen many outstanding female-led Comedy Series, especially in the past bit. LOOT is the new benchmark. It streams on Apple TV+ starting June 24, 2022.