Maya Rudolph and Joel Kim Booster on Apple TV+ Comedy – The Hollywood Reporter

The Last Time Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard Collaborated With Maya Rudolph On A Streaming Comedy, It Was Amazon Forever, an ambitiously strange and formally inventive examination of love and the afterlife. Other streaming credits for Yang include Apple TV+ little americaan anthological exploration of the immigrant experience, and the latest season on Netflix master of nothingwho boldly (if not always successfully) extended the beloved Emmy-winning series to include new characters and a new tone.

Accustomed to using TV’s ever-widening landscape to tell often experimental stories, Yang and Hubbard are back with a new streaming comedy, Apple TV+ Withdraw. The most unusual thing about Withdrawapparently, that’s where it’s being broadcast.

Withdraw

the bottom line

A good premise and great set, but strangely conventional.

Withdraw is a low-rated NBC sitcom relocated to a place where, if nothing else, the creators will never need to know if it’s low-rated, which will certainly offer some relief to veterans of eternal bubble-dwellers like parks and recreation and 30 Rock. The episodes are definitely longer than what broadcast serials are allowed, and there are some four-letter words scattered throughout. But on the other hand, this is a broadcast comedy, down to its general accessibility and the feeling that its characters and tone are a work in progress.

At its best, Withdraw it’s in the vein parks and recreation or the good place – a ensemble built around fundamentally decent characters trying hard to do the right thing, or at least trying to understand what it would be like to do the right thing in our complicated modern world. At worst, Withdraw it’s in the vein Mr Major — a set about stooges tasked with doing the right thing, but stuck into a series of ill-defined workplace shenanigans without a hit-and-miss ratio consistent enough to match the cast’s potential.

There’s a lot to enjoy Withdraw, starting with its timely narrative and solid showcase for some of Maya Rudolph’s myriad skills. At the same time, it’s a show you’ll keep watching more for its potential than for its immediate execution.

Rudolph plays Molly Novak, wife of tech mogul John Novak (Adam Scott, in what’s not exactly a cameo, but also not a big enough role for continued investment). It’s Molly’s 45th birthday, so he buys her a yacht with four pools and throws an over-the-top party at her over-the-top Hollywood Hills mansion.

All is going well until Molly finds out that John is having an affair with his assistant. She demands a divorce and since there was no prenuptial agreement, she walks away with 87 billion dollars. This is all settled 10 minutes into the pilot, but I could easily mention Melinda Gates or Mackenzie Scott and you’ll get the shape of things.

Molly and her assistant Nicholas (Joel Kim Booster) must figure out how to fill the time and spend money when Molly is summoned to the offices of her charitable foundation by Sofia (Michaela Jaé Rodriguez), who has no patience for the way Molly is drunk. oat sowing is impacting the foundation brand. Molly is intrigued by sensible Sofia and decides to commit to helping the charity, with its particular focus on economic inequality in Southern California, do good. She and Nicholas soon find themselves working side by side with Sofia, Molly’s jovial cousin Howard (Ron Funches) and accountant Arthur (Nat Faxon), who bonds with Molly over their shared status as newly divorced.

At the end of the 10-episode first season, Withdraw starts to settle into something like a perspective on whether or not the solution to systemic inequality involves grotesquely rich people making more donations, but most of the season positions Molly in an aggressively harmless way. Rudolph, with his razor-sharp comic timing and cadences unlike any of his contemporaries, it’s pretty hard not to like at least a little bit, no matter your thoughts on feeding the rich. This isn’t exactly a problem, just a friendly treatment of the character’s transmission as alien, but fundamentally and innocuously benign. Molly is frivolously frivolous when it comes to her money, but not in a way that suggests she has any serious lessons to learn, and indeed, from episode to episode, Molly has little room to grow and little need. It is like A Christmas Carol if Scrooge started giving his employees a long weekend for Christmas and, after being visited by three ghosts, played an extra half day. See also Ted Danson’s character in Mr Major.

With minimal need for a visible bow, Molly takes no time to settle into her charitable routine, with complications only of the easiest sort to resolve. Somehow even stranger is the ease with which Nicholas goes from wildly superficial and fabulous butler to semi-content cubicle drone, which only makes sense because what he really wants is to be an actor. Apparently. And it doesn’t matter if those character traits make any sense, because Booster is equal to Rudolph when it comes to inspired comedic reactions and wacky phrases.

Molly’s wealth and isolation should at least make her a distinct character. But once she’s squeezed into a workplace comedy framework where only Sofia has demonstrable job responsibilities, she’s just a slightly wealthier but interchangeable member of a team that gets to make things interchangeable. ​in the workplace, such as an abrupt spa day for women and lunchtime drinks for men. It would all benefit from a clearer definition of Molly’s personality and the foundation’s goals, which involve lip-service mentions of zoning councils and city council meetings (again, shades of Mr Majorwhere Danson’s character and his team were advancing policies without any foundation).

I am using this review to reflect aloud on aspects of Withdraw that keep the show from joining in its first season, because the reasons you’ll want to keep watching are all too easy to pinpoint.

Rudolph and Kim are funny together and can easily provide notes of drama when the scripts, peppered with sharp lines, call for it. I hate to say, “Make season two more serious,” but if you have leads capable of bringing gravity, why not let them? Kim has a loose friend relationship with Funches, whose praise as a smile-inducing scene-stealer I sang over and over again, and Rudolph has a sweet will-or-no-they chemistry with Faxon, capitalizing on a rare opportunity to play a character who may emerge as the protagonist of the series’ romantic comedy.

Coming off an Emmy nominee Pose turn that had humor but was definitely not focused in that direction, Rodriguez may not seem instantly comfortable in this format, but it passes in a hurry. In the second episode, she starts to laugh, some pretty big ones, with her dry delivery, while Sofia goes from being just a stern boss to finding her own fun with the excesses that Molly’s status allows.

The room to grow is wide, and Yang and Hubbard have worked on broadcast sitcoms that have gone from bumpy early seasons to masterpieces. Maybe it’s just the semantics that make a streaming series that could have been streamed look a little underwhelming, or maybe it’s more than a decade of believing Rudolph was worthy of a classic series that makes use of all of his talents. Withdraw this series is not yet — Forever got closer, but it might have been too artistic and unpredictable to survive – but it could be. Just adjust your initial expectations. Heck, there have been some really solid network comedies this year – Abbott Elementary, ghosts, the wonderful years, Great Crew — so let’s pretend Apple TV+ wanted to get in on this action.

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