HBO’s ‘The White Lotus’ Season Two Review: This Vacation Sucks


The The last time I wrote about it white lotus It was right after the series premiere, when the series showed so much promise, I think it ultimately didn’t live up to the season finale. Despite this, the show won five Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Series and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series for Jennifer Coolidge in what is likely to be a career-defining performance for the longtime actor. Shortly after it was announced that creator Mike White was in the midst of planning a second season, despite considering the somewhat dramatic (and fatal) ending, it was hard to imagine where another season could go.

Apparently, the answer is Sicily, in Taormina on the northeast coast. With the exception of the rich but deeply troubled Coolidge Tanya, this season features a whole new group of resort guests, each with their own set of problems that can only be solved for an extended period of time with a licensed therapist. It’s a similar format to the previous season, i.e. the rich go to an “exotic” vacation destination just for the havoc to happen, only this time it’s a lot less fun.

Season 1 missed the mark in a number of ways, notably the lack of perspective and the manipulation of the local Hawaiians — one of my initial excitement was the potential scheme of new hotel employee Lani (played by Jolene Purdy), only for her to disappear almost entirely, focusing on the manager. the unoriginal hotel instead, which earned Murray Bartlett an Emmy for his role as the distressed Armond — an issue that comedy editor Dan Hamamura has discussed on more than one occasion. However, he succeeded when it came to mocking the irritable nature of the rich.

This latest season has, so far, attempted to do the same, and yet there is none of the bite that made the first season as enjoyable to watch as it was. A little tension occurs in most guest events. The male family members exploring their Sicilian roots offer nothing of note but to provide a beleaguered assistant what-to-do and an aspiring sex worker and her friend a chance to sneak into the resort. The most interesting dynamic is between two couples, the intellectual but temperamental Harper and Ethan (Aubrey Plaza and Will Sharpe, respectively) who are on vacation with the blissfully oblivious Cameron and Daphne (Theo James and Megan Fahey, respectively). Ethan’s desire to impress Cameron collides with Harper’s almost immediate dislike of the couple. Plaza is known for her dry, biting humor, which here is distilled down to taut hyper-self-awareness as she tries (badly) to curb her disdain for Cameron and Daphne for the sake of her faltering marriage. It’s the closest thing to an engaging story here, though Harper’s brand of liberal “mean girl” passive aggression and Cameron’s horrific anarchy (James, who I usually find unbearably boring except for that bizarre TV moment, is at his best here), bring The foursome level of confusion is almost too much at times.

Next to The White Lotus resort series, the only connection to Season 1 is Coolidge’s Tanya McQuaid along with her immediate love interest, Greg (John Gries). Although Coolidge’s performance the previous season was strong, it wasn’t enough to justify Tanya’s presence here. What was once a curious, if melancholy, look upon the empty shell of a human being chasing after anything and everything in an effort to fill himself has become so earthly a pathetic person that it almost inspires disgust. The only reason she’s rooted at all is solely due to Greg’s overwhelming awfulness, but it’s nowhere near enough to wanting to continue checking on a character whose story should have been left unfinished.

HBO announced today that the network is renewing the show for a third season, and all I can do is wonder why. Season two is boring enough that the thought of following the same formula again seems pretty dull. I will likely continue to watch this season due to my dedicated journalistic integrity, but this is almost certainly a journey I don’t want to go on again.

Kalina Rivera is Pajiba’s Television Programming Editor. When she’s not quite caught by the recent discovery (meaning as of this writing), John Grace played Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite They can be found on Twitter over here.

Title image source: Fabio Lovino/HBO