Photo: ‘The White Lotus’
Following Up a Classic
One of the most cringe-inducing phrases put out there in our business sometimes is the headline “green-lit for a second season.” We’ve been so burnt out and dismayed by an influx of content, some of which doesn’t warrant a follow-up, (see past HBO mistakes like ‘True Detective’ Season 2) that we are instinctively cautious when we hear these words now. Too often people in charge of making content and programming decisions see an audience attach to a product and instantly renew and relaunch for another season when in reality, we may have been just as at peace with a masterful first season that did not require further exploration of characters or an idea. ‘The White Lotus’ receiving a follow-up second season is not one of these times.
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Debuting last summer at the peak of another wave of Covid infections, and at a perfect time when we are all looking in the mirror and analyzing how we treat one another, the show hit at the absolutely optimal time. The series, created by Mike White of ‘School of Rock’ fame, follows the lives of different incredibly wealthy vacationers and the resort staff they interact with during their stay at the fictional White Lotus resort. With amazing talent like Sydney Sweeney, Jennifer Coolidge, Steve Zahn, Murray Bartlett, and Connie Britton all playing integral roles in the first season, the bar has been set incredibly high for the follow-up.
The series is a whip-smart dark comedic parody of the wealth gap and inequality in our country, that struck a nerve at the very right place and the right time in history. White’s writing brilliantly turns the proverbial mirror back on the audience, so much so that you are left fully contemplating and analyzing every interaction you’ve ever had with everyone you have ever encountered over the course of your entire life. With each character rocketing up the insanity of their individual characters to well above a ten, you are equal parts laughing hysterically at each increasingly ridiculous situation, while also feeling completely horrified that in fact these people most definitely exist somewhere in the world doing these very things right now.
For the social commentary aspect, for the fact that the same creative team and some standouts from the first season’s cast will be back, as well as some already announced incredible additions to the cast, it is certainly picking up steam as being one of the most anticipated shows on the horizon.
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Perhaps the most delightful news we have received around the announcement of the second season of ‘The White Lotus,’ is the destination of where the events will take place. While Hawaii served as a perfect backdrop for the chaos and comedy of the first season to take place, traveling across the ocean to Sicily, Italy will make for undeniably even more comedy.
More great news surrounding the second season was the confirmation that fan favorite from season one, Jennifer Coolidge, will be returning as her character Tanya (for which she was nominated for an Emmy) for season two. Playing the hopeless and clueless romantic again, but this time in Italy, should make for quite the fun turn for her character. Coolidge was at her very finest in the first season, putting the comedic abilities that made her a hit in ‘Legally Blonde’ and ‘American Pie’ back on full display. Having her dial back in for the second season should nicely tie the concept of the series together to help bridge the gap between the two seasons.
More welcome news came in the face of a tremendous press release around the new additions to the cast. The always funny and whip-smart Aubrey Plaza will be joining the cast as one of the vacationers headed to Sicily. Plaza has been on an incredible run in the past few years, taking on very valuable projects like ‘Black Bear,’ ‘Happiest Season,’ and many more projects on the way in 2022. Her joining the cast for season two will provide a nice boost to an already super star cast.
More newcomers also include Michael Imperioli, who rose to prominence playing Tony Soprano’s nephew Christopher on ‘The Sopranos’ who will be playing one-third of a multi-generational family staying at The White Lotus in Sicily. Imperioli frequently stood out on ‘The Sopranos’ as the comedic relief of the show, and will bring those same sensibilities to the new cast. Another big name joining the cast is Theo James, of the ‘Divergent’ series of films, as well as most recently being featured in ‘Mr. Malcolm’s List’ and ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife,’ also on HBO Max.
‘The White Lotus’ – What Else Can We Expect?
Honestly, full-scale biting comedy and awesome writing. I am very excited to see what White has in store for this mega-talented cast. With much of the social commentary and satire coming from the setting of Hawaii and the interactions between the Native Hawaiian people working on the hotel property, going international will raise the stakes and allow for even more outrageous comedy. I am already anticipating some incredibly cringe-worthy scenes involving Coolidge’s Tanya trying and massively failing to try to speak and interact in Italian.
One talent White had on full display in the first season is a strong ability to hit his tone dead on the money. He was able to balance skewering the mainland vacationers, while also highlighting the native culture and showing how absurd the vacation group’s ignorant understanding and interactions were with it. Taking a group to an old-world location such as Sicily will only provide for much deeper comedy and conflict with the group.
The success of ‘The White Lotus’ was very important in helping to launch the HBO Max app, and the second season will be pivotal in determining the success of the app and its role within the newly created Warner Bros. Discovery. I for one am very excited for the upcoming second season of ‘The White Lotus,’ which should be set to drop at the end of 2022 or early 2023, but can’t come soon enough.
By Mark Raymond
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Mark Raymond is a writer and screenwriter who believes himself to be the only person desiring to work in film who originated in New York and currently resides in Los Angeles. Mark was inspired to write from a young age and has always desired to connect and uplift others through his work, as those that motivated him did for him. Mark feels very strongly that the world could use a lot more positivity and optimism, and is therefore very aligned to the mission of The Hollywood Insider to not spread hate or gossip, but instead to build each other up and shine a positive light on anyone bold enough to put their heart and soul into a piece of art. In his writing, Mark aims to use his signature wit to highlight the severity of the more serious and pressing issues of our time, to shine a beacon of light through the darkness. A devoted ally to all, he seeks to inspire and use his platform to give a voice to the voiceless and let his readers know that while everything may not be great right now, one day it can and will be.