White Lotus review


Illustrations by Alexa Druyanoff

Daphne Davies and Ava Fattahi

Described as “The Comedy of the Year” by The Independent, HBO Max’s satirical comedy-drama,”The White Lotus,” masterfully captures complex characters in a binge-worthy format. Throughout the airing of its first season, the six-episode series was released weekly and had an average viewership of just under 500,000 watchersper week, according to The Observer.  Starring an award-winning cast consisting of Connie Britton, Jennifer Coolidge and Sydney Sweeney, the show has been renewed for a second season since its initial release, although the next season will feature a new set of cast members.

With a captivating, bass-booming soundtrack, “The White Lotus” takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions from stress to bliss as they follow a group of privileged, predominantly white characters throughout their stay at The White Lotus resort in Hawaii. The show depicts the glory that lies within gross wealth inequality and privilege; the hotel staff and native inhabitants of the Hawaiian island quickly become pawns in a very elite game of chess. Most notably, Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) offers to help spa worker Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) start her own business before abruptly leaving the island without fulfilling her promise. .

The season is filled with various dramatic events, from a jewelry heist to secret romances and, ultimately, a murder.  Amidst these circumstances, drama arises in the guests’ daily lives at the resort: being placed in the wrong room, losing luggage and  theft.

However, the series does not accomplish its portrayal of teenagers and young adults quite as convincingly. Several episodes feature minutes-long scenes of Olivia Mossbacher (Sydney Sweeney) and Paula (Brittany O’Grady) doing various drugs, consuming the majority of their screen time. Teen viewers occasionally found it difficult to relate to some of the dialogue. Words like “cringe” alongside their ridiculously excessive swearing expose the adult scriptwriters who think they know more about our generation than they really do.

In the end, “The White Lotus” follows the metaphorical transformation of the mind, body and soul through the journeys of various members of the Mossbacher family. Quinn is said to engage in a transformation of the soul, Olivia and Paula of the mind and Nicole and Mark of the body. Quinn goes from a quiet, tech-consumed teenage boy to one who is conscious and appreciative of the native Hawaiian culture around him, staying behind at the airport to embrace his newfound island lifestyle. Olivia and Paula experiment with mind-altering drugs and experience mental transformations as they face withdrawals when their drug stash is stolen. Lastly, Nicole and Mark experience physical evolutions as Mark faces a cancer scare and Nicole gets attacked in her hotel room, putting their bodies through significant trauma.

The finale is heartbreaking yet perfect. The victim of the murder is finally revealed in a completely unpredictable, suspenseful moment. Even after the final twist that defies expectations, , not much about the characters seems to develop. A breakup is resolved, Olivia and Paula’s relationship remains on thin ice and  the resort guests still use their privilege in abhorrent ways, treating the  people around them as servants. Aside from Quinn, whose priorities completely shift,  characters leave as they came. People are fired, conned and killed. But for the rich, this trip is just an insignificant blip in their fabulous lives, conclusively depicting how the series’ exploration of wealth and privilege is connected to nearly every aspect of its plot.