The art of awkwardness in HBO’s ‘The White Lotus’ 

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“The White Lotus” is available to watch on HBO Max. The dramedy looks at the personal lives of the rich and famous on vacation. Illustration by Sarah Chantres/The Daily Campus

If you haven’t heard of Mike White’s “The White Lotus” by now then you must be living under a rock. This unique dramedy that offers an inside look at the personal lives of the rich and famous on vacation is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The pettiness and sheer cringe of character interactions makes audiences erupt with laughter, or at least wince at the awkwardness.  

The show is set up with an ensemble cast consisting of some heavy Hollywood names. More notably, Aubrey Plaza, Theo James and Michael Imperioli, who joined the cast as members of the rich elite alongside the ever so fabulous Jennifer Coolidge, one of the two returning characters from the first season. Although, not every character on the show comes from such wealth, many are employees of the White Lotus resort or other service workers.  

Recently, Coolidge won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Tanya in the series. Her co-star Haley Lu Richardson, who plays her assistant on the show, described what it was like to work with Coolidge in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, explaining how she was unable to tell “where Tanya ends and Jennifer begins.” White also brought home a Golden Globe for Best Limited Series for writing and directing the show. The two close friends shared an intimate exchange of words thanking one another in their acceptance speeches. 

If its accolades aren’t enough to motivate your interest in the show, I would recommend watching an episode or two to see if it’s the right fit for you. Between the writing and the performances, the show does an astonishing job balancing the inherent humor of incredibly awkward situations while also mixing in cumbersome drama to keep the plot moving. Given that it’s an HBO original, the show does live up to the service’s standard of nudity and vulgarity, so I wouldn’t recommend watching it with Mom around. 

Some of the characters include three male relatives spanning three generations, tracing their family roots while also dealing with their inclinations for infidelity. Other plots revolve around two young — and very successful — married couples, as well as scheming escorts, the hotel manager, a mysterious and eccentric group of gay men and so many more wildcards. What’s fascinating is how each plot overlaps with another, often through strange instances. It’s captivating as an audience member to watch two characters encounter each other as complete strangers, yet you already know so much about them. 

Season two was filmed along the stunning coastline of Sicily. With the first season which took place in Hawaii, and rumors of the third one moving to an undisclosed location in Asia, there is no expense spared on tracking down and flaunting some of the most beautiful vacation spots in the world. Every season so far has also been shot in an actual Four Seasons Hotel, granting fans the opportunity to stay at the exact same spots where the story unfolded. 

My only small complaint of the show is the inherent jealousy that can fester as a viewer. In a comical way, I found myself very envious of the characters lounging on the beach and sipping their champagne as I sat on my stained couch in my apartment. If you are someone who doesn’t enjoy the decadent display of greed and ego to an almost disgusting degree, then you may not enjoy this show. But even though all of the conflicts emulate first-world problems, the writing and performances are worthy of appreciation on their own.  

As I started off saying I have never seen anything like “The White Lotus” on television before, it feels borderline historic. It aired during HBO’s premiere spot — Sundays at 9 p.m. — meaning it was the show that drew the most effort by everyone involved along the process. That effort pays off immensely in one of the most entertaining shows streaming today. Though it sounds like there will be a decent wait until season three, so you have plenty of time to get caught up on the first two.  

Rating: 5/5 

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