Apple TV Plus workplace comedy lacks bite


Apple TV Plus workplace comedy lacks bite

Maya Rudolph and Joel Kim Booster in Loot

Maya Rudolph and Joel Kim Booster present prey
photo: AppleTV+

AppleTV+ prey was designed to poke fun at and eventually reflect on its protagonist’s ridiculously extravagant lifestyle. After all, Molly Novak’s (Maya Rudolph) glamorous performance includes John (Adam Scott), her rich stupid tech husband, who gives her a huge yacht as a gift. It has multiple floors and four swimming pools (one of which is the perfect size for her two dogs, whose priceless names will not be revealed here). Molly’s life revolves around a glamorous Hollywood mansion, an expensive wardrobe, fancy parties and several maids by her side. Yet the show reaches its climax when she examines her identity without all of that. Unfortunately, that rarely happens, and even then prey fights to the end with his struggles with capitalism, billionaires and the like.

The only reason Molly — and in a way, the show itself — finds her groove is because of Rudolph. The actor’s infectious energy grounds the show and prevents it from simply falling into clichés. She dampens Molly’s outbursts, whether they’re realistic struggles with John after he discovers his affair and divorced him within the first 10 minutes of the premiere, or absurd tantrums when meeting up with former friends. Rudolph brings warmth to Molly’s selfishness, making it impossible to dislike her, or maybe even root for her. Admittedly, it’s hard to sympathize when she’s forced to sulk after the breakup on private jets or with the help of bespoke meals David Chang cooks for her. (Yes, he acted as her personal chef.) Money can’t buy happiness…until it can?

Like most workplace comedy, preyThe basic premise of throws an unlikely group of people together — in this case, when Molly wins a whopping $87 billion from her divorce. (Have you ever wondered what a show based on Mackenzie Bezos might look like now? prey is essentially the glossy version of it.) Molly begins working on her behalf for a charity she didn’t even know existed. The Wells Foundation is run by the straight-laced Sofia Salinas (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez). Sofia runs it with the help of eccentric people like soft-spoken accountant Arthur (Nat Faxon) and Molly’s super-optimistic cousin Howard (Ron Funches). prey certainly remembers Parks and Recreation (Creators Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard both wrote for the NBC hit), The officeand even The good place. It’s basically Apple TV+’s attempt to create its own network sitcom.

Molly isn’t as overzealous as Leslie Knope, but she has absolutely no clue about walking into an office, chairing meetings in conference rooms, or figuring out how to actually help people. Meanwhile, Sofia is passionate about strengthening the community and solving homelessness in Los Angeles. Their dueling personalities become fodder for an unlikely friendship. Molly and Sofia’s (erm, Leslie and Ron) reluctant bond makes for an intriguing set of episodes, especially as Rodriguez goes toe-to-toe with Rudolph. After an extraordinary turn-in poseshe delivers a serious and dry comedic performance here, with almost every line dripping with sarcasm.

Loot — Official Trailer | AppleTV+

The same applies to Joel Kim Booster, who is clearly taking the summer of 2022 by storm fire island and his Netflix comedy special, psychosexual. Booster plays Nicholas, Molly’s fiercely loyal assistant who works with her and later pursues his true love of acting. He remains an absolute delight in the role and manages to focus even when sharing the space with Rudolph. Also delightful: each scene with boosters and funches. In fact, the entire ensemble shares an instantly easy-going chemistry that any workplace comedy thrives on. As it turns out, prey doesn’t try to be “just any workplace comedy,” and that’s where it falters.

It mostly succeeds with the banter of the cast, unexpected friendships and the whole atmosphere where co-workers become family (imagine that). The show would have worked well with all of that. But it also wants to convey a broader message about how billionaires shouldn’t exist, and if they do, how they should actually help address global crises, rather than just tweeting through them. The writing doesn’t delve nearly deeply enough into these timely issues, however. It’s relatively toothless and superficial, and the satire lacks bite. Despite focusing on Molly’s burgeoning love life and reconnecting with her family, the characterization still feels fragmented. It’s good that Sofia, Nicholas and the others surround her, but even their backstories aren’t detailed enough. Luckily the cast is holding up and making prey a simple watch, with the season finale setting up perfectly for a potentially far more uncompromising future for the show.

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