If there is one thing white lotus Sure to make you think, that’s how many murders can be committed at a luxury resort before anyone steps in to explore.
Or you will simply ignore your investigative concerns. After all, one of the main topics white lotus is the ability of the rich to get away with anything; This season, they’re trying to kill.
The first season of white lotus It became a runaway hit for its sharp satire on the wealthy, combining humor with pointed commentary on race, class, and modern colonialism. After a group of the One Percenters stay at a luxury fantasy resort called the White Lotus in Hawaii and the staff have to clean up the mess, creator Mike White has turned this show into more than just an upstairs and downstairs comedy. This is a testament to White’s relentless focus on showing how the privilege of the rich makes them self-obsessed, cruel, corrupt, and endlessly greedy. Even heaven is not enough.
This new season takes us from the White Lotus Resort in Hawaii to the sweaty, sexy shores of Sicily. The cast (with the exception of Jennifer Coolidge’s returning character Tanya and her new husband) is all-new. Haley Lu Richardson appears as Portia, Tanya’s bemused personal assistant. Theo James and Megan Fahey, who play married couple Cameron and Daphne, are on vacation with old friends: Ethan Will Sharpe and Harper from Aubrey Plaza. Mounting resentment between the couple pushes these new episodes into the most uncomfortable of places. Murray Abraham, Michael Imperioli and Adam DiMarco play three generations of men in one family. Bert, Dominique and Albie Di Grasso. Sabrina Impacciatore is Valentina, the principal, though White often drops the cast as main characters this season. Instead, he introduces us to Lucia and Mia (Simona Tabasco and Beatrice Grani), two young Sicilian men who hang out with a part-time sex business and a full-time glamor attack on the men of the resort. Their addition fills a blank spot from last season, which explored how the rich spoil everything around them, but didn’t touch on the role of sex work in this gleaming paradise.
These injections of sex are very deliberate, as there is more than just a murder going on at this new resort. The new topic for this show is gender. Who got it, who wants it, and who might be killed because of it.
This thematic change mostly works. The shift from racial and class politics to sexual politics matches the rising, soapy tone of the new season. White said he wanted this season to feel more like an “opera,” in service of his new Italian setting, and he certainly achieved some elements of dramatic Italian opera. They count their bodies. There was one dead body on the beach in season one, and now we have several more floating in the water.
But this new tone doesn’t work everywhere. Our main returning character, Tanya Coolidge, sadly feels out of place. While Tanya’s joy last season made her efforts to grieve and find a true connection feel honest, it’s so much more than that — note this time around. Just having Coolidge’s presence on our screens might be a blessing, but it’s disappointing to watch Tanya fall from the high point of the first season to the lowest point of the second.
It could simply be that Tanya just doesn’t fit the new sinister tone that White has created in the show’s second season. The camera swirls around its subjects like a shark, and the threat of sexual betrayal hangs in the air. Statues Testa de Moro (ie useful white lotus The staff explains that traditional statues of a man’s head (beheaded by his mistress not to mention his actual family) lurk on every corner.
Without the staff’s point of view looking down on their guests, we inevitably fall back on the ways rich people antagonize one another. White seems to particularly enjoy the jealousy and aggression that reverberates among young couples. Aubrey Plaza’s Harper mocks the other pair as shallow and funny. Cameron is a pillar of toxic masculinity and Daphne is a bird who doesn’t know how to vote. Harper thinks she nailed it perfectly. Are you not connected to the world more? Didn’t she and Ethan donate money to charity? Not very materialistic, Cameron and Daphne have been made fun of throughout the series.
It’s fair to say that Plaza is the standout performer, pouring bitterness, arrogance, and envy into her role; Harper is unable to grasp the simple fact that Daphne and Cameron are happier than she and Ethan (and that their sex lives are certainly more satisfying).
Each conversation in the pilot reveals more shades of misery. The immensely talented Haley Lou Richardson plays a minor role here as Portia, but she steals every scene she’s in as her restless desires crack a complacent surface. Family arguments between the men of the di Grasso family underscore a latent misogyny: the older men are the rightful and the predators; The youngest son is a classic “nice guy”. White’s knack for writing performative dialogue excels. No conversation goes by without hints at what these horrible people really want. Asking what the rich want is the least trivial thing about this show.
As many of the characters point out, sex is a deal breaker. “It feels good when you realize someone has the money. Because then you don’t have to worry about them wanting you,” Tanya laments. Whether you have it or not, the money is there sex.
Ultimately, this new season focuses on sex to point out that the real tragedy of these super-rich people is that they can never really know anything real: no real desire, no real love, not even real hate. All of this is just another product that money can buy.