THE WHITE LOTUS on HBO MAX fits in very well with the general HBO aesthetic: Rich white people got A LOT of problems. They’re just like us regular folks but with a $25K/night hotel suites! This six-episode season works perfectly as the self-contained limited series from writer/creator and sometimes actor Mike White it was originally supposed to be, but alas, HBO has announced a second season is coming!
For much of THE WHITE LOTUS I was interested in these characters but I didn’t think there was much going on either. It was a story without a plot let’s say. Set against the backdrop of a gorgeous Hawaiian resort, the titular The White Lotus (which is actually The Four Seasons on Maui), there’s the Mossbacher family featuring the incredible Connie Britton as mom Nicole and Steve Zahn as dad Mark plus their kids Olivia and Quinn and family friend Paula, or honeymooning couple Rachel and Shane Patton, and Jennifer Coolidge’s single and fabulous Tanya. These folks have more baggage than just their designer suitcases.
The cast of THE WHITE LOTUS is incredible, not just the guests but Murray Bartlett as GM Armond and Natasha Rothwell as spa manager Belinda too. Each episode covers about a day at the resort as the guests deal with family and relationship woes, come to terms with the death of loved ones and just genuinely drive Murray, Belinda, and the rest of the staff a bit crazy. Paula is the only featured guest who is not white, rich, and spoiled. She’s a fish out of water at The White Lotus, finding herself more entertained by a handsome waiter than the family who took her on their very expensive vacation. And she’s the character we root for most of the series…until we don’t.
Without this cast and the backing of HBO, THE WHITE LOTUS might be nothing more than a daytime soap opera. Instead, it’s a smart and incredibly well-written study on colonialism, white privilege, and individuality vs tribalism. It probably doesn’t hurt that the pilot drops a big mystery within the first few minutes to reel us all in.
So sit back, grab a Mai Tai, and set sail next boat to THE WHITE LOTUS, now streaming on HBO Max.