The trailers of The White Lotus and Nine Perfect Strangers showcased a stellar star cast and a promising story. Naturally, people assumed it would dwell deep in mysteries, lies, deception, and murder as we all know how old-fashioned whodunnits are back in vogue. While The White Lotus was set in a luxurious 5- star resort in Hawaii, Nine Perfect Strangers was set in a mystique wellness retreat in California. Both series boasted of some of the big names in Hollywood, right from the makers to the leads. As the series unfolded, it became obvious that both were centered around ‘rich white people trying to find themselves. True, both the series had a diverse cast, but they were given roles in the periphery. The shows were based on white women and men trying to find a meaning to life’ by indulgences.
Both, The White Lotus and Nine Perfect Strangers promised a lot. While The White Lotus is bitingly sarcastic and dark and takes a dig at internet wokes and activists, Nine Perfect Strangers dwelled a bit further into the dark side of the wellness industry and retreats. However, by the end of both series, it became clear that the message conveyed was how white people leading shallow and hollow lives would just about spend any kind of money to prove how they are trying to find a meaning to life or some are dealing with loss and grief or some are trying to rekindle the romance. However, a careful perusal of both the 5-star hotel and the wellness resort would tell you how both scream ‘wealth’ and exclusionary practices.
The guests in both the series were troubled souls who were looking to be saved by the working-class employees, who treated the guests with utmost devotion to the point of going beyond their jobs. The employees may not have been empaths, but did they really have a choice with the amount of power and wealth that guests possessed? You had best-selling authors to CEOs of search engines as guests. There was a certain amount of mystery revolving around each guest, and you wondered if anyone had sinister intentions and if the endings would leave you shell-shocked and with dropped jaws. However, both the series ended on hollow notes, just as the point they were perhaps trying to make. There were no big revelations. Nine Perfect Strangers and The White Lotus also perhaps had a very problematic and toxic view to the consumption of drugs, and we wonder what was the point that they were trying to drive home?
In an ideal world, the guests at the resorts or the wellness retreat would have sought professional psychiatric help, as no amount of smoothies and massages can ever help you get over a loved one or even a broken marriage. This brings us to the point of how white people have legitimized quacks and quick fixes. It makes you wonder that in 2021 when the world is trying to find ways to make mental health more affordable and accessible, how legit is it to make shows that justify such quackery to mental health problems? How different is Nicole Kidman’s Masha from an influencer who offers energy healing for 5000 rupees to cure your anxiety and depression?
The writing for both series is not without loopholes. The series has been shot across beautiful locales indeed, one in Hawaii while the other in Australia. Nicole Kidman’s eastern-European accent is so fake, it kind of ruins the entire experience of watching Nine Perfect Strangers. In The White Lotus, the forced nudity was a big buzzkill, and we sincerely hope that it becomes a textbook case for filmmakers to write better stories than just add in the buff to sell their content. I mean, it is not the 90s anymore, nor is it a Zalman King movie.