Loot misses the mark when it comes to meaning of money [Apple TV+ recap] | Cult of Mac

Loot misses the mark when it comes to meaning of money [Apple TV+ recap]

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Loot recap, Spades Night: Molly (played by Maya Rudolph, left) and her cousin Renee (Kym Whitley) get together for some family fun.★★★☆☆
Molly (played by Maya Rudolph, left) and her cousin Renee (Kym Whitley) get together for some family fun.
Photo: Apple TV+

Apple TV+ comedy Loot has family and romance on the brain this week. Molly wants to get in touch with her family again after years of distance — with Howard as go-between. Arthur and Nicholas eavesdrop on a stormy night of conflict for Sofia.

It’s all fine. Indeed, the drama and comedy are handled with equal deftness for the first time this season. But there’s something that nags about the mission of a show like Loot.

Loot recap ‘Spades Night’

Season 1, episode 8: In the episode, entitled “Spades Night,” Molly Wells (played by Maya Rudolph) and Jean-Pierre (Olivier Martinez) are dating apace, loving their lives as rich, flirtatious philanthropists. She’s been missing a lot of work to date him, but she wants to get back to being serious.

She’s not the only one who’s got romantic news, either. Ainsley (Stephanie Styles) is getting married. And Arthur (Nat Faxon) has a date with the woman he met at a bar a few episodes back.

The way the show introduces this is probably Loot’s funniest joke yet. Ainsley gets everyone’s attention to talk about how everyone in the office is in love now.

“Arthur was just telling me about the romantic weekend he has planned with Chelsea,” Ainsley says, “and I wanted to tell you all before I told my parents. I’m engaged!”

She holds out her hand with the diamond ring on it. Howard (Ron Funches) leans forward and says, “Awwww…. Arthur tell us more about this trip!” He completely ignores the engagement news. Amazing. This show needs to keep embracing its mean streak.

Awkward moments with family and at the office

Loot recap: Nicholas (played by Joel Kim Booster, left) and Arthur (Nat Faxon) can't take their eyes off events at the office.
Nicholas (played by Joel Kim Booster, left) and Arthur (Nat Faxon) can’t take their eyes off events at the office.
Photo: Apple TV+

Meanwhile, Molly has an idea that she wants to repair the little rift between herself and her family. She goes to Howard and asks if he’ll invite her to a family game night.

She didn’t make it to cousin Renee’s (Kym Whitley) wedding and wants to make it up to her. Her first attempts at ingratiation backfire, so she tries to involve Howard. He immediately flees and leaves Molly on her own for the card game.

Nicholas (Joel Kim Booster) and Arthur (Nat Faxon) are the only people in the office when Sofia (MJ Rodriguez) gets some flowers delivered. She sees them and retreats to her office to scream at the man who sent them over the phone.

Arthur and Nicholas are too transfixed by the drama to move. After many hours of watching her scream into the phone, another man shows up — not the man on the phone. Now they can’t leave.

Molly does manage to get into Renee’s good graces but blows it when she picks up on some cues Renee accidentally drops. Like that her game table is too old. While Renee goes into the kitchen to make more snacks, Molly has a new game table express-delivered and Renee loses it. She thinks Molly’s trying to buy her forgiveness like she buys everything in her life. Howard hears this and finally decides to stand up for Molly.

Tell us more!

This one was good, splitting the difference between sentimentality and brashness. Molly confessing to Renee the real reason she skipped her wedding has real weight to it. These are ultimately two women who have made a lot of mistakes that kept them in place.

Rudolph and Whitley both project such wounded pride for having lost so much of their life to men and impulsiveness. It’s good stuff and better handled than a lot of this show’s attempts at warm and fuzzy emotional content. It makes up for none of the jokes landing in this storyline.

The Sofia storyline is pretty classic sitcom stuff, handled with care by Faxon, Booster and Rodriguez, who doesn’t always get to be very funny on Loot.

When Rodriguez is blowing past pleasantries and spitting out secrets and punchlines, she can be a great comedic performer. I’m less convinced by the add-on where Sofia tells Arthur he’s still got a shot with Molly (who at that moment is getting a text from Jean-Pierre saying he bought her Marie Antoinette’s diamonds — this show seems to be missing some important context about that, incidentally.)

Capitalism: Good or bad?

Indeed, if I have a complaint it’s that they use a song about the evils of capitalism (“Lost in the Supermarket” by The Clash) — on a show that’s all about what capitalism buys you — to underscore Molly’s feelings of positivity at being given jewels by a queen who famously oversaw the terrorizing of the French working class, who then rose up and slew her and her husband Louis XVI.

To which I can only say, as the kids do, lol lmao. You can’t use the Clash to show how great it is to be in love with someone rich enough to buy you historical treasure, completely absent the Marxist context of why so much of Marie Antoinette’s jewelry was just lying around in 1793 for people to take.

Loot is all about what money can and can’t buy you. And the show’s extremely fickle to the point of morally absent about what is and isn’t good about wealth. On the one hand, this week you’ve got Molly confessing to Renee that she was trying to buy her forgiveness when she should have just apologized for missing her wedding. But then you have her torn between nice, down-to-earth accountant Arthur and rich-as-Croesus philanthropist Jean-Pierre.

Of Molly and money

What’s troubling about all of this is that Molly has the option to learn the hard way about everything because she has more money than god. What the show refuses to do (eight episodes into a 10-episode season, at any rate) is examine anything about the question of Molly’s wealth beyond its very broad effect on her mental health.

Yes, she learns she wasn’t fulfilled going to drug-fueled parties in Majorca with her rich friends. But without her billions, she never would have joined the board of the charity where she meets her new friends and rich lovers.

All this is still just content about happenstance, not a show about money, despite Loot’s title. It’s all well and good for Apple TV+ to make shows where millionaires and well-paid soccer coaches teach everyone the meaning of life: They don’t have to work a grueling nine-to-five like most people to do it. They have everything they need.

It’s easy to learn life lessons when you’re not worrying about where the rent is coming from.

★★★☆☆

Watch Loot on Apple TV+

New episodes of Loot arrive Fridays on Apple TV+.

Rated: TV-MA

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.