Loot, the Apple TV+ sitcom about a rich woman discovering the meaning of life through charity work, finally hits the wall I’ve been waiting for after weeks of politesse and a too-overwhelming fear of the vulgar side of comedy.
In this week’s season finale, Molly and the crew head to Corsica for a billionaire energy summit where she must make an important choice. She must decide between her rich, debonair boyfriend and his million-dollar ideas about conservancy, and her friends who want to do real, on-the-ground work and fight the root causes of the problems facing their neighbors.
Loot recap: ‘The Silver Moon Summit’
Season 1, episode 10: This week’s episode, titled “The Silver Moon Summit,” delivers a great opening. Charity director Sofia (played by MJ Rodriguez) is getting a cab to the airport when her driver (EL Losada) mentions the homelessness problem in Los Angeles. (If you don’t live there or follow the headlines, here’s the scoop. LA suffers from one of the worst unhoused crises of any major city in America, with a city council and mayor willing to let the police shove the homeless off the street and confiscate their belongings.)
Sofia starts commiserating, but then he says what he means is that they should sweep them off the street with a bulldozer (which is basically the LAPD’s solution to the problem of the homeless). She demands he stop the cab and let her out.
This stands as the first scene on Loot that’s as prickly about the everyday microaggressions people who care about the homeless experience as it ought to be. Frankly any charitable or world-improving cause, from recycling to veganism is given short shrift in a world totally and willfully blind to the struggles of the unhoused. Everyone who doesn’t directly relate to the plot is out of luck.
This is good writing and it’s sold by a ferocious turn from Rodriguez, who doesn’t often get to really shine on this show. Watching her lose patience with the status quo is exciting and galvanizing. It reminds you why they hired her for such an important role.
Meanwhile, billionaire Molly Wells (Maya Rudolph) and her beau, Jean-Pierre (Olivier Martinez), are already in Corsica awaiting the arrival of Sofia and the team for the Silver Moon Summit.
Everyone takes to the fancy new surroundings differently. Rhonda (Meagan Fay) and Ainsley (Stephanie Styles) are just happy to be somewhere fancy. But they’re the only ones. Arthur (Nat Faxon) tells Nicholas (Joel Kim Booster) and Howard (Ron Funches) he’s going through something because he left his girlfriend. He won’t say why, but we know it’s because he’s still in love with Molly.
Arthur’s much happier to be in Corsica than everyone else. Nicholas is still mad that Molly missed his play last week when everyone else showed up for him. Sofia is mad because the summit won’t make any real-world difference for the homeless back in LA, the people she gets out of bed to help. This is an ego contest between millionaires.
Finally, the root of the matter
Against everyone’s advice, Molly goes ahead with Jean-Pierre’s water-filtration demonstration even when it clearly doesn’t work. She has diarrhea and is embarrassed on live TV. Then, she breaks up with Jean-Pierre when he suggests that they just run away together.
Molly’s on a plane out of town when Sofia confronts her. Yes, she’s a mess, but the problem isn’t her heart — it’s her money, and her belief that being surrounded by nice things can fix problems.
So Molly goes back to the conference, hijacks the microphone and gives a rousing speech, which includes words I’ve been waiting to hear all season: “Billionaires shouldn’t exist.”
Molly vows to give away all her money. All $120 billion of it. It’s pretty great. Rudolph does a great job with this last monologue.
Just PR bullshit
This, to be honest, is where Loot should have started, with a kooky billionaire in a Brewster’s Millions situation, where Molly must give away her money in a hurry. That’s a good idea (or it’s a time-tested one, anyway).
The show didn’t deliver a whole lot of jokes this week, and fewer even of them really worked. Even Molly drinking the tainted water could have been bigger. Drinking something gross is the kind of thing Rudolph can ordinarily turn into high art, so I’m a little mad they didn’t give her more room to go crazy with it.
Here’s to the second season of Loot
Still, I’m very excited to see where the show goes, even if I think the writers need to strike a much better balance between humor and heart. This week’s opening, for instance, exhibited a kind of bracing reality that’s otherwise been absent from the show.
It frankly doesn’t really have much room to breathe in a show where a woman sleeping with her rich ex-husband is the cliffhanger on which the season ends.
With another season — a much more focused season — the showrunners could give Loot the clear direction it needs. The cast is solid, the ideas can be good and the first season served up some great laughs here and there.
When season two comes around, Loot just needs more of everything, and a much clearer tonal identity, to become something greater than the sum of its parts.
Watch Loot on Apple TV+
You can now watch the entire first season of Loot on Apple TV+.
Watch on: Apple TV+
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.