Soon after Molly Novak (Maya Rudolph) discovers her tech-billionaire husband John (Adam Scott) has been cheating on her, she’s drinking herself into oblivion in Berlin, Phuket and Rio. By the end of this 10-part comedy series, which is bigger on learnings than laughs, she’s drinking muddy water in a bid to save the planet.
The loot of the title is eye-wateringly large: Molly scores a divorce settlement of $87 billion, enough to secure the services of David Chang (who is always and only addressed by Molly as “David Chang”) as in-house chef. As a breakfast TV host says, who wouldn’t trade a man for all that cash.
But the hedonism loses its appeal in the blink of a fully constricted eye. The “what now” comedown lasts a lot longer, and is really what Loot is about.
Emerging from the prolonged bender, Molly realises there’s a charitable foundation bearing her name and decides to get involved. She makes a hash of it before finding a way to turn what she’s good at – partying and spending money – into a basis for good works.
Along the way, she helps the people in charge – including chief executive Sofia (Michaela Jae Rodriguez, from Pose) and accountant Arthur (Nat Faxon) – to loosen up a little. In return, they teach her to be less selfish. Even her snippy assistant Nicholas (Joel Kim Booster) develops the beginnings of a heart.
Maya Rudolph is a real comic talent, but apart from those early party scenes she’s on a fairly tight leash. Molly’s gaffes are spectacular – like handing out luxury gift bags at the opening of a homeless shelter, or totally losing the plot during a chilli-eating contest-cum-interview on YouTube – but she quickly learns to avoid the worst of them. That’s a win for her, but a loss for viewers.
Loot might just as well have been called The Education of Molly Novak; it’s way more interested in her discovery of purpose than it is in finding the funny in her cluelessness. Its ethical journey finally delivers a pretty solid pay-off, but I can’t help feeling it would have been more persuasive had it delivered a few more gags along the way.