January 21, 2023

The White Lotuses

The first season was about wealth & privilege. The second season was about love & relationships. Both seasons had some gay sex; a fairly negative view of humanity, and the depressing reality that you should just learn to settle with what you are given.

I watched the first two seasons of the show all in one stretch. It worked well for me. I am glad I didn’t have to wait week-to-week for new episodes, or even a year for the 2nd season to be available. It helped me to compare the themes and see how similar the seasons really were.

This is a slice-of-life show where we get to meet different people and see them navigate life and relationships for a week. This week just happens to be while they are on vacation at a very fancy resort. Most of the people are very wealthy and entitled. I’m not sure exactly what the show was going for, but to me everybody is painted in a fairly negative light. The first season was filled with horrible people. I found characters more relatable in the second season, and therefore liked that season a bit better.

Each season starts with a scene that lets you know somebody has died at The White Lotus. Then the show goes back in time one week and shows you a group of vacationers arriving, with the presumption that one will not return home. All of the chess pieces are set, and then as viewers I guess we are supposed to figure out who is going to kill who. As we get closer to the end there are several scenarios where it is clear we are supposed to think this is the death scene. This feels tedious to me.

While the themes have a lot in common between the two seasons, the characters do not. There is only one element of character continuity and I wasn’t happy when I saw who it was. Jennifer Coolidge’s character was my least favorite from season 1. Her performance of a mentally unstable filthy rich woman was so over-the-top. I expected the worst going into season 2. However, it was a lot better this time around. Maybe I just got used to her performance, but for me the character was way more likable this time around.

I am interested in what people take away from this show. It is fun to watch, but it also seems to want to make statements about society. Most of those statements are not good. There is very little positivity in the show. Both season have couples that reconnect and go home a stronger couple than they came. I suppose that could be considered positive. Both season also have couples where at least one member hates their life but has resigned themselves to living in misery. I suppose this is a commentary on how frequently humanity detaches from their dreams and relies on distraction to get through each day.

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