Book your next view-cation at “The White Lotus”


Photo Courtesy of HBO Entertainment

Newly wealthy couple Harper and Ethan embark on a vacation to die for with old friends.

Danny Conway, Staff Reporter

The first season of HBO’s dramedy “The White Lotus” was, to me, one of the sharpest and most addictive series in recent memory. 14 months after season one’s memorable finale, creator Mike White booked another trip to “The White Lotus” —  this time, internationally, with a seven episode stay in Sicily. 

The series follows wealthy vacationers staying at “The White Lotus,” a five-star hotel with all the picture perfect views and luxurious amenities one could ask for. What could go wrong?

The first scene of the season, eerily similar to its predecessor, opens with Italian authorities discovering a body floating on the beachfront of the resort. For the next six episodes, viewers are left  hypothesizing about which member of the ensemble cast won’t be catching their flight back to the states 

Season two features an almost entirely new cast of characters, with the exception of the returning Tanya McQuoid-Hunt (Jennifer Coolidge) — the naive, self-centered and hilariously-dramatic middle-aged heiress, now accompanied by her assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson). Newcomers include Dominic Di Grasso (Micheal Imperioli), a sex addict trying to win back his estranged wife, his sweet but often awkward son Albie (Adam DiMarco) and his father, Bert (F. Murray Abraham), who seems to be losing his marbles. Harper Spiller (Aubrey Plaza) and her husband Ethan (Will Sharpe) grapple with their newfound wealth while vacationing with Ethan’s sleazy financier college roommate Cameron Sullivan (Theo James) and his wife Daphne (Meghann Fahy). Local sex worker Lucia Greco (Simona Tabasco) and her friend Mia (Beatrice Granno) frequent the hotel as well, looking for opportunities, often to the frustration of manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore). Despite such a large ensemble, White creates rich, interwoven stories that weave in an expansive and memorable supporting cast. 

While all the performances are memorable and full of personality, the writing is what makes “The White Lotus” great. The dialogue is sharp and witty, as creator and showrunner White expertly satirizes a modern culture obsessed with wealth. It seemed like many of the vacationers could easily have been Bay Area bankers or Silicon Valley tech executives… In fact, Albie went to Stanford, and Portia attended Chico State. In a way, “The White Lotus” resembled an aesthetic  spring break Instagram post — with a violent twist. The show displays how even a bottomless budget can’t buy an argument-free, perfect vacation. On a deeper level, The White Lotus shows the hypocrisy and  blindness of privilege. In perhaps the most shocking and addictive storyline of the season, it made clear the extreme ends people will go to in order to achieve and maintain opulent wealth.

Along similar lines, season two explores the power dynamics of sexual attraction, and how desire can be used as a weapon in relationships for some and as an economic tool for others. The show adds nuance by opting not to judge any of these situations. Instead, it leaves you rooting for multiple people simultaneously, even when their goals are in direct opposition to each other. 

“The White Lotus” deserves your time. But beware, once you start to watch, it may be hard to stop.

4.5/5 Stars