Apple TV Plus workplace comedy has no bite

Maya Rudolph and Joel Kim Booster in Loot

Maya Rudolph and Joel Kim Booster in Withdraw
Photograph: Apple TV+

Apple TV+ Withdraw is designed to mock and eventually reflect on its protagonist’s ridiculously extravagant lifestyle. After all, Molly Novak’s (Maya Rudolph) flashy entry includes John (Adam Scott), her wealthy tech asshole husband, gifting her a massive yacht. It has several floors and four pools (one of which is perfectly sized for her two dogs, whose priceless names will not be spoiled here). Molly’s life revolves around a luxurious Hollywood mansion, an expensive wardrobe, fancy parties and multiple maids by her side. However, the show peaks when she examines her identity without all that. Unfortunately, this rarely happens and even then, Withdraw fights to the end with his views on capitalism, billionaires and the like.

The only reason Molly – and to some extent, the show itself – finds its rhythm is Rudolph. The actor’s contagious energy grounds the series and prevents it from falling clearly into clichés. She softens Molly’s outbursts, whether it’s realistic fights with John after finding out about her affair and divorcing him within the first 10 minutes of the premiere, or absurd tantrums when running into ex-friends. Rudolph brings heat to Molly’s selfishness, making it impossible to dislike or maybe even root for her. Admittedly, it’s hard to sympathize when she sulks after breaking up on private jets or with the help of personalized meals David Chang cooks for her. (Yes, he appears as her personal chef.) Money can’t buy happiness…until it can?

Like most work comedies, Withdraw‘s basic premise brings together an unlikely group of people – in this case, when Molly earns a whopping $87 billion from her divorce. (Can you imagine what a show based on Mackenzie Bezos would look like now? Withdraw is essentially the brilliant version of her.) Molly starts working for a charity in her name that she didn’t even know existed. The Wells Foundation is led by the sensible Sofia Salinas (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez). Sofia manages it with the help of eccentric people like soft-spoken accountant Arthur (Nat Faxon) and Molly’s over-optimistic cousin Howard (Ron Funches). Withdraw certainly remember parks and recreation (Creators Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard wrote for the NBC hit), The officeand even the good place. It’s basically Apple TV+’s attempt to create its own network comedy.

Molly isn’t hyper-enthusiastic like Leslie Knope, but she is extremely disconnected from walking into an office, leading meetings in conference rooms, or figuring out how to actually help people. Meanwhile, Sofia is passionate about uplifting the community and solving the homeless in Los Angeles. Her dueling personalities become fodder for an implausible friendship. Molly and Sofia’s reluctant bond (ahem, Leslie and Ron) makes for a fascinating set of episodes, especially as Rodriguez goes toe-to-toe with Rudolph. After an exceptional turnaround Poseshe delivers a serious, dry comic performance here, with nearly every one of her lines dripping with sarcasm.

Loot — Official Trailer | Apple TV+

The same applies to Joel Kim Booster, who is clearly conquering the summer of 2022 after Fire Island and his Netflix comedy special, psychosexual. Booster plays Nicholas, Molly’s fiercely loyal assistant who accompanies her to work, later pursuing her true love of acting. He remains a complete delight in this role, managing to pull focus even when he’s sharing space with Rudolph. Also delicious: any scene with Booster and Funches. In fact, the entire ensemble shares an instantly laid-back chemistry that any workplace comedy thrives on. It seems, Withdraw it’s not trying to be “any workplace comedy,” and that’s where it fails.

He mostly succeeds with the cast’s banter, unexpected friendships, and the whole vibe of peers becoming family (imagine that). The show would have worked well with all that. But it also wants to embrace a larger message about how billionaires shouldn’t exist and, if they do, how they should actually help tackle global crises rather than just tweeting about them. However, the writing does not delve deep enough into these timely themes. It’s relatively toothless and shallow, and the satire has no bite. Despite focusing on Molly’s burgeoning love life and reconnecting with her family, the characterization still feels fragmented. It’s a good thing Sofia, Nicholas and the others surround her, but even their backstories aren’t detailed enough. Fortunately, the cast holds up and makes Withdraw an easy clock, with the season finale seamlessly setting up what could be a much more uncompromising future for the show.

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