“The White Lotus” Series – Troubles in Paradise [review]

White Lotus 2022


Title: “The White Lotus” (HBO series)

Release Date: 2021 – 2022

Director: Mike White

Cast: Jennifer Coolodge, Murray Bartlett, Connie Britton, Alexandra Daddario, Natasha Rothwell, Jon Gries, Aubrey Plaza, Michael Imperioli


“The White Lotus” is a very enjoyable HBO series, which, like the popular “Big Little Lies” or “The Undoing” shows the life of the American elite with a criminal twist in the background. In the production of Mike White we have the opportunity to follow the adventures of the wealthy characters on vacation, which only seem to be a constant idyll, meanwhile, along with the rest comes the opportunity to think about uncomfortable issues, which are swept under the rug on a daily basis. For me, however, “The White Lotus” is, above all, an extremely relaxing journey to the fabulous landscapes of the Hawaiian islands (in the first season) and divine Sicily (in the second series), which is worth going on, especially in the long winter evenings.

“The White Lotus” – divine vacation in an exotic setting

“The White Lotus” of the title is the name of a fictional hotel chain offering luxury vacations in exotic locations. And so in the first season we follow the fate of the characters spending a week in Hawaii. They all belong to the wealthy American elite, who spend a lot of money to enjoy the charms of the fabulous beaches and the most varied comforts at the prestigious resort. Everyone intends to make the most of this time, but from the first moments after landing on the islands, not everything goes according to plan. The excited Mr. and Mrs. Patton (played by Jake Lacy and Alexandra Daddario) get the wrong suite they paid for. Mark (Steve Zahn) is stressed about medical test results that are due any day, and his influential wife, a well-known business figure (Connie Britton) spends her days on teleconferences.

The character that links the two seasons is millionaire Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge), who arrives in Hawaii to scatter her mother’s ashes over the ocean. Incidentally, the excellent performance of the actress, known in the past mainly for “American Pie,” is currently experiencing a resurgence, to recall, for example, her role in the series “The Watcher.” In the second season of “White Lotus,” Tanya decides to vacation in Europe, on the Sicilian coast, and that’s where the production is set. The male part of the Di Grasso clan with Italian roots is vacationing at the resort this time: grandfather Bert (F. Murray Abraham), son, well-known Hollywood film producer Dominic (Michael Imperioli) and grandson Albie (Adam DiMarco). Already in the first scenes with their participation the conflict of generations and different approaches to male-female issues is outlined. In turn, former college friends: Ethan (Will Sharpe) and Cameron (Theo James) decide to spend the vacations with each other after years and show off each other’s beautiful wives: Daphne (Meghann Fahy) and Harper (Aubrey Plaza). However, their seemingly perfect relationship hides many secrets….

White Lotus series review

The series ” The White Lotus” – precision of detail

“The White Lotus” is a series that offers the viewer a lot of pleasure from the screening thanks to the thoughtful attention to structural details. Both seasons have a distinctive structure: each begins with the mysterious death of one of the residents of the resort, which is an intriguing prologue that encourages to follow the sequence of events leading to such a finale. The action goes backwards to explain the course of the incident step by step. In a sense, nonetheless, this criminal motif serves as a pretext, as the most interesting thing is not so much the sensational mystery, but the characters themselves, the relationships linking them and the complicated motives behind their actions. As a result, the series offers a generous portion of interesting moral observations, which have a lot of tragicomedy and social satire.

The themes and atmosphere of “The White Lotus” are perfectly matched by the opening credits of both seasons. The intro of the first series features a set of cartoon images from the Hawaiian islands, with dominant elements of untamed nature and wild animals. Combined with music based on the themes of Hawaiian songs, we get an eloquent metaphorical commentary on the behavior of the characters presented on screen. It is, so to speak, a gallery of characters who, far from metropolitan civilization, feel lost and forced to confront their deeply hidden fears. In turn, the only clue in this precarious excursion is their own, almost animal instinct.

The lead of the second season, on the other hand, contains references to centuries-old Italian culture, primarily ancient Rome. In the presented images known from the art of that period, erotic symbolism dominates, which is complemented by disturbing, sophisticated music that brings out hidden passions. Europe is associated here not only with the cradle of Western civilization, but, above all, with moral freedom and unpretentiousness. It is no coincidence that the leitmotiv of the season is the presence of two young Sicilian prostitutes in the hotel: Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Granno), who sneak into the hotel like a sensual temptation that each of the characters will have to face.

White Lotus HBO analysis

“The White Lotus” – trouble in paradise

Both seasons of “The White Lotus” take the viewer on a wonderful, exotic journey to fabulous beaches, where hot sand, sun and azure water soothe the senses and allow you to breathe away from everyday life. This is the scenery of an earthly paradise, where we can lounge on a deck chair at will, sipping a sweet drink with a palm tree and treating ourselves to an olive tan. The stunning photos capture the incredible charm of the wonderful outdoors, but also the luxury of the elite resorts. And lo and behold, during this amazing adventure, like in a famous painting by Nicolas Poussin, death unexpectedly appears with the words: “And here I am in Arcadia.”

Betrayal creeps into love, disloyalty into friendship, parents can’t relate to their children, and traditional values already seem like empty slogans. “The White Lotus”, however, does not crush the viewer with the weight of psychological and sociological reflections, the creators of the series weave them in with ironic detachment, accurately provoking and juggling all the currently fashionable buzzwords, such as the dominance of the patriarchy, gender, racism or ecology. Therefore, we find here a whole cross-section of contemporary topics, each of which could serve as the subject of a separate analysis. Nevertheless, the HBO series, which has been awarded ten Emmy statuettes, neatly combines all the themes, creating an extremely attractive and clever production that will not let the viewer pass by indifferently.