‘The White Lotus’ review: Season 2 of Mike White’s HBO Hit brings sex, romance and ironic flair to the Sicilian coast

At first glance, Cameron (Theo James) and Daphne (Meghan Fahey) look at the same photo of #couplegoals, with their sunny good looks, cute designer clothes, and cute habits of snuggling and hugging in public. But Harper (Aubrey Plaza) isn’t buying the photo of marital bliss she deserves on Instagram. “It feels performative,” she quipped her husband, Ethan (Will Sharp), once they were alone. “Impossible. It feels fake.”

Because all of them are characters in white lotusMike White’s prickly satire of the rich and the miserable came as no surprise when Harper was finally proven right. However, the real question, as Ethan points out, may be why Harper cares in the first place. In its second season, the HBO series makes Harpers of us all, and takes a suspicious look at familiar trappings of courtship — and while the new version doesn’t quite come close to the bone as it did in the first, it ignites more than a few notes sharp enough to draw blood.

white lotus

bottom line

Just as sharp, almost as tasty.

Presentation date: Sunday, October 30 (HBO)
spit: Murray Abraham, Jennifer Coolidge, Adam DeMarco, Beatrice Granny, Megan Fahey, John Grace, Tom Hollander, Sabrina Impacator, Michael Imperioli, Theo James, Aubrey Plaza, Halle Lou Richardson, Will Sharp, Simona Tabasco, Leo Woodall
Creator: Mike White

If the results of season two can be summed up in a nutshell, it could simply be that straight lines aren’t quite right (although in fairness, the show’s straight lines don’t seem to be hot either). In the five-hour, critically acclaimed, seven-episode season, the drama is essentially about the intractable division of the sexes as it does on the battlefields of sex and romance, analyzed with the same anthropological rigor that White brings to matters of wealth. and class in the first season.

The new backdrop is the luxury White Lotus Resort located along the coast of Sicily, and the players are often a new crop of guests. There’s the aforementioned quartet, which celebrates the sale of Ethan’s company with a pair of friends. Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) and her husband Greg (John Grace), the only recurring characters from Season 1, travel with Portia (Halle Lou Richardson), Tanya’s existentially frustrated aide; and three generations of de Grasso’s men (F. Murray Abraham Burt, Dom Michael Imperioli and Adam de Marco Albe) on a pilgrimage to their ancestral homeland.

Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) acts as a counterpart to this iteration of trapped Maui hotel manager Armond in Season 1, all the way to the interest of a younger employee (Isabella’s Eleonora Romandini). However, the staff mostly takes the narrative back seat to two locals, Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grani), who lurk in the hotel and are looking to trade in their sex appeal for whatever money or favors they can extract from the wealthy male guests.

After an Italian release of the Tropical Opening Credits series last year, the season begins once again with the promise of dying in a moment ahead, before jumping back for a week to piece together a story of who died, how and why. The warning seems redundant. While white lotus He goes out of his way to highlight the island’s breathtaking beauty – a detour outside the property to visit majestic mansions, charming vineyards, and that town where there are some The Godfather Filmed, like the world’s tallest tourist ad – and it also shows that Sicily is said to be where Hades raped Persephone. Romance and violence, whether physical or emotional, go hand in hand here.

In contrast to the removal of the ruthless and ignorant elites in Season 1, the second lacks explicit goals such as Shane’s brutal entitlement or Tanya’s selfish need. For one thing, the characters are, in general, somewhat nicer (although Cameron is pretty much cut from the same hateful cloth as Shane, and Tanya is still Tanya). Socio-economic class remains a constant concern white lotus, but as a complicating factor for the season’s central themes of sex, lust and love, the distinction between miscreants and victims isn’t entirely clear. The result is a set of episodes less intense in their humor and less intense in their satire, even with Cameron’s penchant for talking about alpha male bullshit or Burt to shamelessly beating every woman he sees.

Fortunately, the season was no less clear in his remarks or his sense of empathy. As a creator, White has a special talent for digging into the gap between the people whose characters want to see themselves as and the ones they can’t help. Here, he uses it to tap into the vague concern about whether it is possible to know what we really want when we spend our whole lives telling us what we want. The most obvious question applies to the characters’ decisions about who to have sex or flirt, which are driven as much by the craving for status or reassurance as they are by actual desire. (When the sex worker ignores that “having sex knowing exactly what you’re going to get out of isn’t a bad thing,” her clarity comes across as unexpectedly refreshing and downright bleak.)

But the aforementioned concern is also expressed in moments like Portia rants about disappointments in a world where not even stunning views like the one you enjoy in Sicily might yield real wonder or pleasure, but only “some stupid Instagram overload.” Richardson delivers the words with such obvious misery that you can almost feel it – especially if you too have experienced this very specific, modern malaise that is hard to pinpoint.

She’s not the only one who has taken advantage of White’s talent for crafting characters that she feels are painfully understandable, if not necessarily likable. Other notable characters among the very strong cast include, among others, Plaza, who publishes her uncomfortable delivery of hilarious and hilarious effect as a woman whose harsh judgments hardly conceal her fears. She is especially suited by Fahey, who makes Daphne one of the season’s most adorable characters by utilizing massive reserves of steel and the sadness behind her usual effervescent personality.

Despite the glimmer of sympathy that passes between the two women over their shared experiences, white lotus He has no interest in reducing men or women to essential notions about predators, prey, subjects, objects, white knights, or girls. Instead, she recognizes that this is the social framework in which all of his characters—and we, the viewers—operate within. They may adopt these stereotypes as “hardcore” or dismiss them as “constructive,” as Burt and Albee do in arguing about The GodfatherAttract macho, or try to work for them, as Lucia and Mia do.

But no one seems to be able to completely escape them in favor of the pursuit of their true desires and needs, at least as of Episode V; We’ll find out in the next two if there’s any way out that doesn’t involve becoming a bobbing corpse in the Ionian Sea. Harper, as it turns out, misread Cameron and Daphne’s adorable fervor in one crucial way—by assuming they’re the only ones displaying their sexuality and love. white lotus“A gift for audiences in search of fun drama, semi-brutal comedy, and maybe a little bit of painful self-reflection is that they don’t make the same mistake you do.

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