Jennifer Coolidge & Aubrey Plaza in Season 2 – The Hollywood Reporter

At first glance, Cameron (Theo James) and Daphne (Meghanne Fahy) look a lot like the #couple image, with their good looks, photogenic designer outfits, and cute habit of cuddling and cuddling in public. But Harper (Aubrey Plaza) doesn’t buy their Instagram-worthy marital bliss. “It feels so effective,” she scoffed at her husband, Ethan (Will Sharpe), when they were alone. “No way. It feels fake.”

Since they are all the characters above White Lotus, Mike White’s poignant satire of the rich and the wretched, it’s no surprise that Harper was ultimately proven right. The real question, however, as Ethan points out, might be why Harper cared in the first place. In its second season, HBO’s series brings the Harpers of all of us to our attention the familiar pitfalls of flirting – and while the new season isn’t as tight as the first, it sheds more light than one. few observations are sharp enough to draw blood.

White Lotus

Key point

Both crisp and delicious.

Release date: Sunday, October 30 (HBO)
Cast: F. Murray Abraham, Jennifer Coolidge, Adam DiMarco, Beatrice Grannò, Meghann Fahy, Jon Gries, Tom Hollander, Sabrina Impacciatore, Michael Imperioli, Theo James, Aubrey Plaza, Haley Lu Richardson, Will Sharpe, Simona Tabasco, Leo Woodall
Creator: Mike White

If the findings of season two can be summed up succinctly, it could simply be that the straight lines aren’t going well (though to be fair, the non-linear sections of the show don’t seem to be the same either). hot). In 5 episodes 5 hours long sent to critics, out of 7 episodes, the series mainly revolves around the intractable divide between the sexes played out on the sexual and romantic battlefields, analyzed. with the same anthropological precision that White brought up the matter of wealth and class in season one.

The new setting is a luxury White Lotus resort nestled along the Sicilian coast, and the players are mostly new guests. There’s the aforementioned quartet, celebrating the sale of Ethan’s company with a free couples holiday; Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) and her current husband Greg (Jon Gries), the only recurring characters from season one, are accompanied by Tanya’s current frustrated assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson); and three generations of Di Grasso men (F. Murray Abraham’s Bert, Michael Imperioli’s Dom and Adam DiMarco’s Albie) on a pilgrimage to their ancestral homeland.

Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) acts as the partner of this repeat to season one’s belittled Maui hotel manager Armond, for his interest in a humorous young employee (Eleonora’s Isabella). Romandini). However, the staff mostly give the narrative of two locals, Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò), who hang around the hotel looking to trade their sex appeal. for whatever money or favor they can get from male guests.

After the Italian fantasy version of last year’s tropical opening credits sequence, the season once again begins by promising death in the blink of an eye, before returning a week to piece together the story of who died, how and why. The warning is almost redundant. While White Lotus try to highlight the island’s breathtaking beauty – leave the property to visit majestic palaces, charming vineyards and a town home to some Godfather was filmed, like the world’s longest travel commercial – it also makes sense to explain that Sicily is said to be where Hades raped Persephone. Romance and violence, whether physical or emotional, go hand in hand here.

Contrary to the first season’s destruction of ruthless, ignorant elites, the second season lacks clear goals like Shane’s monstrous interests or Tanya’s selfish needs. For one thing, the characters are, in general, quite nicer (although Cameron is heavily cut from the same obnoxious canvas as Shane, and Tanya is still Tanya). Socio-economic class remains a constant concern for White Lotus, but is a complicating factor for the season’s central themes of sex, lust, and love, where the distinction between villain and victim isn’t so clear. The result is a set of episodes that are noticeably less humorous and less satirical, even if Cameron tends to say male-male bullshit or Bert brazenly spanks everyone. women he sees.

Fortunately, the season is no less discerning in its observations or its sense of empathy. As a creator, White has an exceptional talent for exploiting the gap between the people his characters want to see themselves with and the people they just can’t help being. Here, he uses it to tap into the unrelenting anxiety about whether we’ll ever know what we really want when we’ve spent our lives being told what we want. The question applies most clearly to characters’ decisions about whom to make love or flirt with, guided by their desire for status or reassurance as well as their desire for reality. (When a sex worker shrugs that “Having sex knowing exactly what you’re going to get out of it isn’t so bad,” her clarity emerges as both surprisingly refreshing and disheartening. .)

But the aforementioned anxiety is also expressed in moments like Portia talking about the frustrations of a world where even astounding views like the ones she is enjoying in Sicily may not bring astonishment. nature or real fun, but just “some superfluous content for stupid Instagrammers”. Richardson delivers the words with a pain you can almost feel – especially if you’ve also experienced this very specific but hard-to-define modern malaise.

She’s not the only one to benefit from White’s knack for creating characters that feel understandable, if not necessarily likable. Other standouts among a very solid cast include Plaza, who deployed her signature ability to deliver untimely deliveries to uncomfortably hilarious effect as a woman with harsh judgments do little to hide their insecurities. She suits Fahy particularly well, who makes Daphne one of the season’s most intriguing characters by tapping into the massive reserves of steel and sadness hidden within her usual bubbly personality. Teacher.

Despite the fleeting sympathy between the two women about their shared experiences, White Lotus not interested in reducing men or women to ideological notions of predator or prey, subject or object, white knight or gorilla. Instead, it knows that this is the social framework in which all its characters – and we, the viewers, are also operating. They may regard these stereotypes as “tough” or dismiss them as “a construct”, as Bert and Albie did in an argument about Godfathermasculine appeal, or try to work to their advantage, as Lucia and Mia do.

But no one seems to be able to get rid of them completely to pursue their true wants and needs, at least since episode five; we’ll find out in the next two sections whether there’s a way out that doesn’t involve being a corpse bobbing in the Ionian Sea. It turns out that Harper had misunderstood Cameron and Daphne’s faithful love in an important way – by assuming that they were the only ones showing off their love and sex lives. White Lotus‘the gift for the audience when it comes to finding the appeal of drama, half-time comedy and perhaps a bit of painful self-reflection is that she doesn’t make the same mistake.


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