There are some series you can never get enough of, and “The White Lotus” is on that list. I remember obsessing over the screenplay at one moment, the cinematography at the next, and the haunting background score that stayed in my head for the longest time. The only question was, was it possible to deliver a second round of the entire package that Mike White created in the first season? Honestly, I was skeptical, knowing how several brilliant shows took a dip the moment they aimed for a second season. But I cannot say the same for “The White Lotus” season 2. The new season, set in Sicily, is equally brilliant. The opening credits, in a way, summarize the chaos that you might come across in the White Lotus. Along with the visual plays a rendition of the season one background score we are familiar with. It announces to the audience that we are on a similar journey, and the closer you look at the artistic marvel, the more you are bound to find what lies hidden within it.
When a tourist goes for a last swim before leaving Sicily, in the Ionian Sea, she comes across floating bodies. Just like in season one, we are taken back to what had occurred the week before the discovery of the bodies. Managing the White Lotus Sicily is Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore), whose broad smile often fails to hide how awkward she feels about the bizarre requests of the guests. Valentina and her staff wave and welcome the new guests to their luxurious coastal resort. The guests include the tourist who discovered the bodies, Daphne (Meghann Fahy), and her husband, Cameron (Theo James). Daphne is a stay-at-home mother, and Cameron is the rich, cocky financer husband. Even though they had been married for five years, they still seemed to be in their honeymoon phase. Joining the couple are Cameron’s college friend, Ethan (Will Sharpe), and his wife, Harper (Aubrey Plaza). Ethan is the nerd guy from college who worked his way to the top, and Harper is an employment lawyer. They would perhaps describe themselves as “conscious capitalists.” Whereas Cameron and Daphne lived by the “ignorance is bliss” motto. They preferred living in a bubble, away from the news and world politics. Daphne barely remembered whether she voted or not in the last election, making Harper question Ethan’s choice of friends. Harper found it difficult to accept that a couple married for five years could be as content as Daphne and Cameron portrayed to be.
While the strange dynamics between the four offer enough drama, we have an equally peculiar Italian family on vacation. The Di Grasso family living in Los Angeles traveled to experience their Sicilian heritage. The Grandfather, Bert (F Murray Abraham), wanted to visit the place his family lived before migrating to the United States. Accompanying him are his son, Dom (Michael Imperioli), and his grandson, Albie (Adam DiMarco). Dom’s wife and daughter chose not to be a part of the family vacation as a result of Dom’s infidelity. Bert believed “a man does what he has to do,” finding it hard to comprehend how adultery could lead to separation. Albie was the peace bearer whose biggest fear was becoming a person such as his father.
The only season one character who joins us in the Sicilian edition is Tanya McQuoid, played by the exceptional Jennifer Coolidge, who can be summarized as a self-centered, born wealthy, living-in-a-bubble middle-aged woman. This season she visits the White Lotus Sicily with her now husband, Greg. While Tanya always dreamt of a magical romance, the reality is far from it. Greg comments on her weight and eating habits, making her feel all the more vulnerable. The reason for his sudden aloofness might be a secret he is harboring. “There is always something with them,” is how Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) described Tanya and Greg’s marriage. Portia is Tanya’s assistant, whom Tanya brought along with her on the couple’s vacation. Tired of her boss and her quirks, Portia develops a friendship with Albie.
Amidst the all-American tourists, we have two local girls, Mia and Lucia. Lucia, a sex worker, was contacted by one of the tourists arriving at the hotel. She asks her friend, Mia, to accompany her to taste luxury at the White Lotus. The entry of the sex workers at the five-star hotel generates a sense of uneasiness among the guests and the hotel staff.
Set in Hawaii, “The White Lotus” Season 1 dealt with racial politics. This time, Mike White explores sexual politics in this dark comedy drama. The characters are layered, and the conversations are intense. Throughout the series, the characters discover who they are, and not all journeys of self-discovery are comforting. The audience is constantly forced to wonder who the characters truly are beneath all the pretenses. The background score continues to be captivating in this Sicily adventure as well. From Hawaii to Sicily, a stay at the White Lotus is always worth your time.