The White Lotus is a six-episode mini series from HBO and it’s streaming it’s way up the charts right now. This is probably because it has a little bit of everything – comedy, satire – and thrills.
Streaming in Australia on Binge, The White Lotus is all about three sets of holiday makers enjoying a week-long stay at at the White Lotus –an exclusive Hawaiian resort.
The story follows these holiday makers and we get to know a few key members of the hotel staff along the way. Firstly, we have the Mossbachers – Nicole (Connie Britton), the CFO of a tech company, her emasculated husband Mark (Steve Zahn), their son Quinn (Fred Hechinger), an awkward teen attached to several gadgets, his older snooty sister Olivia (Sydney Sweeney), and her friend Paula (Brittany O’Grady).
Our other holiday makers include the honeymooners – Shane (Jake Lacy) and Rachel (Alexandra Daddario). Unfortunately, things turn nasty when Shane battles with the resort manager Armond (Murray Barlett) over a mix-up in the room booking. Over the course of the stay, Rachel faces up to some home truths as Shane obsesses over Armond’s mistake.
Then in the Hibiscus Room we have Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge), a single woman travelling with her mother’s ashes. She strikes up a friendship with spa manager Belinda (Natasha Rothwell), a kindly therapist who chants the Gayatri mantra to sooth her needy client. Tanya makes promises to Belinda, only to leave the latter disappointed.
What we end up with The White Lotus is – as some critics have coined it – the Downton Abbey of the American hospitality industry. The show is all about rich white people with the sort of problems rich white people problems have, along with some sharp comments on colonisation, privilege, entitlement, identity, parenting and transactions.
The guests disguise their misery under layers of designer resort wear, shield their troubled eyes with oversized sunglasses and discuss trending topics with teenagers practising armchair activism. Meanwhile, the staff has to plaster on a beaming smile and helpful attitude even when they’re wronged or hurt by the inflated egos of their wealthy guests.
The White Lotus visually sumptuous – from the swaying palm trees to the island vistas and the resort’s designer decor.
The satire is sharp. For example, when Shane asks Paula and Olivia if they’re actually reading Nietzsche and Kafka, they reply: “No, they’re just props.”
“We have a stylist pick our outfits and then we have a book stylist pick out our books.”
Composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer’s score mixes playful tones with impending disaster. Writer and director, Mike White has described it as a feeling of “tropical anxiety.”
The casting is well done with Murray Barlett delivering a particularly impressive performance as the resort manager who begins to unravel. To picture Armond, imagine a gay Basil Fawlty (Jon Cleese in Fawlty Towers) with a few other disorders!
Overall, The White Lotus is about the way we tend to go away on vacation and think we’ve left our problems behind – but we haven’t. As human beings, we continue our own personal power struggle – no matter where we are. There are always winners and losers. And it’s important to remember it’s not a good idea to make the resort manager angry – because the person with the master key to every room has power too.
The White Lotus is streaming now on Binge…