The White Lotus follows a group of guests and employees who come to the fictional White Lotus resort chain in Sicily to get away from their troubles and enjoy themselves only to find their dysfunctions and inner demons catch up to them and affect their stay at the hotel in surprising ways.

The comedy-drama series created by Mike White and features a massive A-list cast that stars F. Murray Abraham, Jennifer Coolidge, Jon Gries, Michael Imperioli, Aubrey Plaza, Haley Lu Richardson and Theo James.

From the smash hit season one, only Coolidge, who won an Emmy for her role, returns.

The White Lotus is a show that very much prioritizes characters over plot. While technically not much is happening in The White Lotus, this is very much an intentional choice made by White as what’s important is not what the characters are doing, but why they’re doing something and what they’re feeling when they’re doing such things. On the surface, a lot of the characters are simply tourists on vacation looking for fun in Italy. However, as each episode of the show goes by, we begin to dig deeper into each of their psyches, and what we find are very troubled characters with flaws that will affect their stay at the hotel.

Whether it be sex addiction, materialism, fake personas, depression, lack of sexual chemistry, or some kind of combination, these are very flawed characters that try to ignore these issues that are eating them up, but sooner or later, they will realize that they can’t keep hiding forever as the longer they stay at the hotel, the closer their dysfunctions catch up to them.

There are a lot of themes that this show throws around when exploring these characters, and while there are some themes that The White Lotus certainly manages to explore better than others, there is enough adequate dissection and character interaction that keeps viewers engaged and entertained.

Speaking of characters, the biggest selling point of The White Lotus is, without a doubt, the actual characters themselves. The show follows a massive group of people who all come to Italy for different reasons, and this is both its biggest asset and its greatest flaw.

With such a massive cast, White is able to explore Sicily from so many different perspectives. It’s particularly fascinating to see all these characters come together at certain points and bond with each other, sharing their pasts and reasons for meeting while also holding some dark secrets from each other.

The best example of this pertains to any scene involving Ethan (Sharpe) and Harper Spiller (Plaza) and Cameron (James) and Daphne Sulivan (Fahy) as they were, in my opinion, the most interesting characters in the entire series.

The show reveals that Ethan and Cameron were former college roommates and that Cameron invited him and Harper out to Italy with them in celebration of Ethan selling his company and becoming a new member of the upper class, and to see both couples awkwardly contrast each other is both darkly comedic and incredibly engaging.

It’s obvious that these are very different people that do not like each other despite desperately trying to appeal to one another: one group cares about social issues and education but is very condescending and lacks sexual chemistry while the other group is very outgoing and always agree with each other but is very shallow and vapid.

They are complete opposites, and yet they are forced to interact with each other and be friends purely because they belong in the same social class, and to see such awkwardly hilarious interactions play out is easily the best asset of the show.

However, unfortunately, the rest of the characters, while decently written and acted, are not anywhere as interesting as the Harpers and the Stillers. While they have their own personal struggles and dramas, they feel much more played-out and familiar, and while it is likely that they will become much more fleshed out and interesting, for now, they are simply not as engaging.

Whether it be characters like Dominic (Imperioli), a Hollywood producer with a failed marriage, his father Bert (Abraham), a womanizing old man who harasses women much younger than him, or Tanya (Coolidge) a woman trapped in a loveless marriage who is cruel to her assistant (Richardson), all of these characters, despite having some level of depth, feel very familiar and not as interesting.

On a technical level, this is a very well-produced and slick series as it’s clear that a lot of production value was injected into The White Lotus. From the sets to the cinematography to the directing itself, this is a very tightly made and good-looking show that manages to suck you in from a visual level. It was a wise choice from White to use Italy as the setting for this show because the same way the characters are drawn to the almost ethereal beauty of Sicily, the viewers themselves become drawn to the island as well. Using its sets and cinematography, the show is able to make its setting feel almost like a fantasy, which also adds to the bigger thematic elements of the series.

However, while a lot of the production value is very much appreciated, there were some technical flaws that couldn’t be ignored, the biggest issue is the music. While the music itself is not badly composed, it is how it is used that is particularly irritating. The use of music is so overused and spammed throughout the series that it, at times, made the viewing experience a bit frustrating, especially during the more dramatic, quieter scenes where characters talk to one another. Part of what makes drama so interesting is seeing characters interact with each other, and while at times music can help enhance these moments, other times it makes those scenes emotionally manipulative and robs of any real drama.

Overall, while this is only the first 2 episodes of a 7-episode series, The White Lotus has done a great job setting up stakes and intriguing elements that hopefully will lead to a satisfying conclusion by the end of the season. (Full disclosure, I have not seen season one yet.)

It is exciting to see where these characters will go next in Episode 3, and the wait couldn’t be any longer.

Check back for weekly White Lotus updates.

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