Photo: ‘White Lotus’
The haunting paradise resort chain returned to screens with the premiere of its second season on HBO MAX. With a new star-studded cast, ‘The White Lotus’ kicks off its next installment of the anthology series with a similar premise. Mike White, the series creator, and director, delivers another plot overlooking the dysfunctions of The White Lotus’s luxury resort guests. Now set in Sicily, Italy, viewers are taken on another rollercoaster of impending disaster as the show will reveal the week leading up to the mysterious death of unknown tenants.
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Back in the traditional tone specific to Mike White, season 2 of ‘The White Lotus’ keeps its unsettling dark-comedy tone, now with a lot more allure than the first season. The show introduces many new characters plus two familiar faces seen from last season. Jennifer Coolidge, the icon known for her work on ‘Legally Blonde’ and ‘American Pie’, returns as Tanya McQuoid, the unaware and spoiled woman visiting another White Lotus resort with her now husband, Greg, played by Jon Gries. Having taken the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series against her four co-stars nominated, Coolidge returns as the disheveled multi-millionaire to keep the heart of the show that captured the attention of viewers and critics in the first season. Coolidge, no doubt, adds to the narrative that the show illustrates, which is an absolute disaster of customer service for the entitled guests at the renowned luxury paradise. As said by many, Coolidge plays the part as if it was made for her.
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The Hot New Tourists of The White Lotus in Sicily
Along with Tanya, the show introduces her young opportunistic assistant, Portia, who finds herself on a free vacation when she is dismissed from her duties. Upon the release of her position, she takes it upon herself to seek out hot fellow tourists and locals to help her live out her sexy Italian fantasies. Haley Lu Richardson, seen in ‘Split’ and ‘The Edge of Seventeen’, ignites the image of advancing young lust and romance. To pair with Portia, Albie, played by Adam DiMarco, travels to the Mediterranean Island on a trip with his startlingly gassy grandfather Bert, played by F. Murray Abraham from ‘Scarface’, and his emotionally disconnected father Dominic, played by Michael Imperioli from ‘The Sopranos’. In an effort to connect with their heritage, the generational trio each has their own issues on the island from declining health to failing reconciliation with their family back home. These four characters plus Tanya and Greg contribute to the comedy in the pilot the most so far. With the baffling endearing airiness of Coolidge’s performance to the nonchalant Bert’s gas expulsion, the sarcastic comedy that ‘The White Lotus’ is branded for was even stronger than the first season.
The new season resonates a lot more libido than the former. With the inclusion of two couples on a double date vacation, there are lots of sexually tense moments across the relationships. One half of the pair is the introverted duo of Harper and Ethan Spiller, played by Aubrey Plaza, from ‘Parks and Recreation’, and Will Sharpe, from the British sitcom ‘Flowers’, respectively. Surprisingly, Aubrey Plaza has yet to deliver any comedy, as she portrays the snarky and moody, yet not unlikeable wife. Dry sarcastic humor is the genre that Aubrey Plaza’s real personality was built for, so it’ll be exciting to see her take on the genre more (if she will). Will Sharpe plays the husband with newfound wealth who was invited on the trip by his initially more exciting college roommate, Cameron, played by Theo James from the ‘Divergent’ series, and his equally bright wife Daphne, played by Meghann Fahy from ‘The Bold Type’. Between the four, lots of tension occurs with their stares and riffing. Especially in one scene where one of the four is watching another get changed. As it is just the pilot episode, it is unclear how these are to be interpreted. Is it jealousy, disdain, attraction, or maybe all of those combined? There is a real mystery to what is in store for these four, but it seems to be heavily suggested that some interrelationship interactions will happen.
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The Mysterious Locals of Sicily and Stern Resort Manager of The White Lotus
Sharing the screen with foreign visitors are the Italian locals that seem to be a threat to the resorters’ fidelity. The young pair of Mia and Lucia, played by Beatrice Grannò and Simona Tabasco respectively, are the residents outside of the resort that preys on opportunity from the wealthy and distinguished guests. Having established themselves as acclaimed actresses in Italian works, Beatrice and Simona play the angel/devil pair of young women looking to make something out of the people vacationing in their home country.
Their efforts to exploit the exploiters become difficult with the hawk-eyed resort manager, Valentina, who is played by Sabrina Impacciatore. Per the branding as a luxury resort, only the guests that can afford a room are allowed on the premises of the property. With Valentina’s reputation as one of the branch’s top managers, she has a title to maintain and will do whatever needs to be done for that to not be tarnished. Valentina opens the perspectives of the show to many more possibilities. For those viewers that see Valentina as a villain, it could go two ways. Either the viewer has a repulsion for authority and is rooting for the success of Mia and Lucia’s advances or they are aligned with the entitled and wealthy resorters that have little regard to the staff providing the services. Those who resonate with Valentina may like her due to a shared trauma of working in customer service and trying to deliver the best of it (even if the customers may not be deserving). The beauty of ‘The White Lotus’ exists with its many possible interpretations. The discourse about which characters’ actions were appropriate or called for is what added to the appeal of the show in its first season. Fans and new viewers can gladly expect the same with this season, as the pilot already initiated lots of spicy storylines.
‘The White Lotus’ releases a new episode every Sunday at 9 PM EST on HBO MAX.
Actors: Jennifer Coolidge, Jon Gries, F. Murray Abraham, Michael Imperioli, Aubrey Plaza, Theo James, Adam DiMarco, Sabrina Impacciatore, Meghann Fahy, Tom Hollander, Beatrice Grannò, Haley Lu Richardson, Will Sharpe, Simona Tabasco, Leo Woodall
Director, Writer, Producer, & Showrunner: Mike White
By Nino Vongphachanh
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