When the first season of “The White Lotus” was released in July 2021, I quickly began recommending my home friends to watch the show. Now that the second season is streaming, I have been advising all my college friends to do the same. Naturally, the first question I get is, “Well, what’s it about?”
“Hmmm… I can’t really explain it. Not much happens during the show, but trust me, you will love it.”
So, maybe I do need a better pitch for "The White Lotus" after all. But, truthfully, it is difficult to articulate why the show is so captivating and entertaining, a statement I believe most fans could get behind. Nonetheless, here, I will do my best to do what I was unable to do with my friends and successfully pitch this HBO Max gem to you. But first, bare with me as we get through the basics.
"The White Lotus" is a comedy drama/satire written and directed by Mike White, the creator of “School of Rock” and — for you “Survivor” fans out there — a contestant in Season 37: “David vs Goliath.” The first season premiered last summer and the second in October of 2022. The show follows a group of American tourists staying at a White Lotus resort — the first season in Maui and the second Sicily. Viewers are given a glimpse into the separate lives of a couple, a family, and bachelorette Jennifer Coolidge, the one returning actor from season 1. At the beginning of both seasons, we are also informed that a murder takes place at some point during the tourists’ week long stay. In the first season, a body is shown being transported on a plane to the mainland, and in the second, a body washes up to the shore of the Sicilian coast. In the simplest sense, "The White Lotus" tells the events that lead to the ultimate, final murder scene. The catch, of course, is that things are not always as they seem.
To reiterate, at the start of S2, a group of American tourists arrive at the shoreline of The White Lotus Sicily. Aside from their obvious affluence radiating brighter than the sun, they appear put-together, conceited but ultimately dull. Oh, and each starring actor is also extremely attractive, aside from maybe Dominic Di Grasso, played by Michael Imperioli (sorry Mike! I did love "The Sopranos" though). With this in mind, it is natural to experience envy, for each character has — or at least appears to have — everything the common person desires. But thanks to Mike White, a wrench is thrown right in the middle of this hotel lobby, so that we as viewers are no longer jealous, but rather joyful, as we watch the uber elite collapse to their knees and tear each other apart. Is it pathetic that I find joy in this? Yea, probably, but who the hell cares. Nonetheless, this is what happens when each character — with the possible exception of Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya McQuoid, a worried, spoiled, clueless single woman — is morally corrupted and, to put it bluntly, extremely fucked up. They lie to each other, complain, worry and wallow in their self-absorption. There are prostitutes, affairs, murder and oh-so-much deception in this season, and through it all, it is clear that vacation cannot buy away the characters extensive problems. Though the first season focused more so on the ideas of greed and privilege, it is clear that the theme of S2 is infidelity — and with it, sex scenes on sex scenes on sex scenes.
It is also worth mentioning how beautiful "The White Lotus" is. It is shot at The Four Seasons: San Domenico Palace, a stunning hotel located atop the cliffs of Taormina, a comune in Sicily, with gorgeous beaches and a sea of the deepest blue shade down below. The show features a life of lavishness by way of incredible voyeuristic-style cinematography that constantly keeps you on edge. The actors themselves are also particularly good looking (oops did I already say that?). All in all, this combination results in what I would call the most “aesthetically pleasing” series I’ve laid eyes on. Oh, and how could I forget? I’d argue that "The White Lotus" theme song "Renaissance" is rivaled only by Game of Thrones’ world famous tune. It has no words. Its genre is neither classical music nor EDM, but also both of those. It gives off jungle/tribal vibes and its vocals sound like yodelers deep in the throes of an acid trip. The entire score, really, is enthralling and captures the mood of each scene perfectly.
Similar to the first season — which featured established stars such as Sydney Sweeney, Alexandra Daddario, Connie Britton, and Steve Zahn — S2 once again brings another crop of brilliantly talented, highly accomplished ensemble of actors. Aside from Coolidge and Imperioli, Aubrey Plaza, known for her role in "Parks and Recreation," Theo James, a protagonist in "The Divergent" series, and longtime acclaimed actor F. Murray Abraham are featured in this season. It is rather uncanny and uncommon to see such familiar faces all on the screen at once, especially for a limited TV series. Nonetheless, perhaps the greatest recognition belongs to the relative newcomers, who have done a masterful job at embodying the spirit of their characters. Sabrina Impacciatore takes on the role of the hard-working, hilarious hotel manager and has done a terrific job following up Murray Bartlett’s Emmy winning performance in S1. Likewise, Simona Tabasco has been one of the surprising stars of the new season, wreaking chaos in the lives of the many while also showcasing an ability to bring vulnerability and heartfelt emotion in front of the camera. All in all, each actor does a phenomenal job bringing drama, passion and some of the most effortless, dark comedy you will see in a while. This is just one of the attributes that makes "The White Lotus" so special.
Now, while I suspect you are likely not here with me but rather listening to "The White Lotus" theme song, if you have made it to the end of this piece, I thank you. And that concludes my pitch to you to watch "The White Lotus" S2. How’d I do?
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.