The White Lotus: Full series
August 2, 2021 6:25 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

The exploits and misadventures of various guests and employees at a tropical resort over the course of one week.
posted by lunasol (36 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This show is great -- right up there with Succession.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:40 AM on August 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

The music in this show is amazing, and I hate mentioning it first, but it's extraordinary. The performances and the scenery, also fantastic. And I sort of hate and love everyone in the show — except Shane Patton, I just hate him. I know Armond is awful, but Murray Bartlett plays him so well. And orchestrating the Pattons romantic dinner on Tanya's funeral sunset cruise was the funniest moment of the series so far.
posted by gladly at 10:32 AM on August 3, 2021 [9 favorites]

The music in this show is amazing, and I hate mentioning it first, but it's extraordinary.

I think this show is a master class in how things like music and general art direction can really elevate a show. Someone pointed out that VERY LITTLE actually happens on this show (a man is frustrated he got the wrong room, a kid's iphone gets wet, a teenage girl is jealous of her friend's vacation fling) and yet everything feels high-stakes and important while you're watching it - but in a hilarious way - and that has everything to do with the way it's filmed and scored. (And of course also the great acting and writing and editing, etc.)

Jennifer Coolidge is amazing in this, and Molly Shannon was just so perfect in that dinner scene.

"I'm thinking about getting a job." "Oh no, why would you do that?"

"He's here on a fishing trip with Black Lives Matter!"
posted by lunasol at 11:52 AM on August 3, 2021 [7 favorites]

I am really enjoying this. Yes, it's another show about terrible rich people and a murder, but I just don't care, it's so much fun. The acting is really good. And yes, the music adds a lot to it. Shane is the worst, but I enjoy how much I am disliking everyone except Belinda, which I suppose means she'll die. (Letting Shane be seen in the first episode so we know it isn't him was smart, though I remain sad about that.)
posted by jeather at 12:08 PM on August 3, 2021 [2 favorites]

except Belinda, which I suppose means she'll die.

I think Belinda dying would be too sad for this show. It'd be a real tonal shift. I think the death is going to have to be someone we care about less. I was thinking Shane's mom, but his mood in the first scene seems more angry than sad.
posted by lunasol at 12:34 PM on August 3, 2021

I hope Belinda doesn't die, so I hope you're right. Rachel, maybe? I could see him being angry more than sad about her.
posted by jeather at 12:58 PM on August 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

At the very least, Rachel leaves Shane. They're supposed to be going on to Tahiti together after their Hawaiian week, but that doesn't seem like the plan in the first episode. I really love that we know definitively that Armond screwed up and double-booked the Pineapple Suite. But Shane is just so godawful and consumed with not getting what he wants, I can't find an ounce of sympathy for him.

I know Belinda will get screwed over in the end of this, and I hate that it will be Tanya who does it.
posted by gladly at 1:16 PM on August 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think if's more likely Rachel reconciles her self to Shane. It's hard to walk away from being rich.

It'll be horrible and believable like everything else.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:39 PM on August 3, 2021 [3 favorites]

So far I don't really know what I think of the show (I'm two episodes in). I think the only characters I sort of like are the teenagers. Shane is in a class by himself of utter hatefulness. He's an utterly believable monster.

There's something really disconcerting about the lighting/cinematography/color-timing of the whole show. The color palette is OPPRESSIVE, like it's artificially dim even in broad daylight but also highly saturated. There's some weird use of digital grading going on here and it makes every scene feel freighted with menace. It reminds me of the feeling or look of the sky when a thunderstorm or maybe a tornado is imminent.
posted by wabbittwax at 4:08 AM on August 4, 2021 [7 favorites]

Loving this show! Am I mis-remembering or didn't we find out in the very first scene in the airport that it is Rachel who is dead?
posted by archimago at 4:26 AM on August 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

We do not know who dies. We only see Shane (jerk-face) being angry/upset that the death occurred.

I'm enjoying the show, but it feels uneven and a bit forced in places. The GM of the hotel getting smashed by himself at the bar of the hotel he manages? And some of the family's dialog and behavior feels extreme and forced. This multi-millionaire power-couple wouldn't have booked a second adjacent room for the kids to sleep in?

But those nitpicks aside—it's been a good show so far. Most of the acting is great. Jennifer Coolidge is perfectly (funny) weird, sad and just a little "off." The opening credits are fantastic and creative. My wife owns a small business that does interior hospitality design—some of her projects are in the Caribbean, so I am intimately familiar with the tropical-colonial style of the wall covering art in the opening credits. The fruit rots, the caterpillars eat the vegetation, a horde of jellyfish arrive and eventually sting a fish to death. It's a brilliant visual metaphor of 21st Century Colonialist attitudes and how many wealthy Americans view the topics as a fairytale fantasy instead of a real part of the world full of its own struggles and dangers.

And my wife can REALLY relate to some of these guests' um, behaviors!

And I am delighted that it is a limited run series that will not go on for years and overstay its welcome.
posted by SoberHighland at 6:44 AM on August 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

If we're taking bets on who dies, well, I think Mark (Steve Zahn) shouldn't start reading any long novels.

Also, I love the low-key subplot that the misfortunes of losing his electronics and being bullied into sleeping on the beach are making Quinn be the only character who has authentic, meaningful experiences on his vacation and actually connects on some level with the locale.
posted by COBRA! at 7:28 AM on August 4, 2021 [8 favorites]

I'm enjoying it, but it stretches the imagination that no guest ever seems to leave the White Lotus to visit any other part of Maui. It would be a pretty boring vacation if all you do is hang out by the resort's pool and beach for a week and not exploring the rest of the island. There are cellular telephone stores on Maui. They could have just picked up a new phone for Quinn easily.

Granted, it was filmed during the pandemic, limiting where they could go. An interesting alteration for the script would be if all the guests were stuck there due to quarantine.
posted by ShooBoo at 7:29 AM on August 4, 2021

I think the fact that they never leave the resort is intentional. These characters are trapped in their lives no matter how far they venture or how much money they spend. The entire show feels claustrophobic, and I think it's all intended to be that way. It's almost like a stage play. (I understand your criticism that it is unrealistic, but this is more a psychological story and the "far away" resort is a metaphor)
posted by SoberHighland at 9:31 AM on August 4, 2021 [14 favorites]

It's interesting that the guests have to take a boat to get to the resort, but staff can drive.

The washed out color makes it seem like the guests don't "see" any of the natural beauty.

(I miss breakfast buffets)
posted by armacy at 3:39 PM on August 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

We were clearly being lead to think that Shane had killed his wife in that opening scene, so I think that's pretty unlikely. Maybe he's in that mood because Rachel left him. How about Belinda kills Tanya when she gets distracted by BLM guy and forgets about the business deal? There's some kind of ugliness coming for that relationship anyway.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 8:06 PM on August 4, 2021

I think it's exactly zero unbelievable that they don't leave the resort. (I agree that they would have gotten him a phone more quickly, but by making the resort send someone to get it.) They want everything magic and done for them in a tropical place, any tropical place, not to go and visit actual Hawaii. (As I recall, resorts can't have private beaches, but I'm going to let some of that slide.)
posted by jeather at 7:30 AM on August 5, 2021 [4 favorites]

I am really enjoying this series. I started right when episode 3 aired and was vibrating in anticipation for episode 4.

I don't want to talk too much about themes and message and all that until it all wraps up but I will speculate on who dies.

I don't know on which end, but I strongly suspect Olivia is involved somehow. From what Paula had said she has done some real shitty stuff in the past and seems to already be stalking Paula and Kai. They also make a point in ep 4 of saying that both girls are in college which would somewhat soften the blow if one of them doesn't make it.

I also sort of think there could be something else going on with BLM guy and Tanya but it's hard to tell rn.

Anyway I'm really loving this and can't wait for the next episode.
posted by Tevin at 10:48 AM on August 5, 2021

I also sort of think there could be something else going on with BLM guy and Tanya
Their meet-cute was so choreographed it made it seem like he's cat-fishing her. I couldn't tell if that was a deliberate implication, or if the scene just didn't work properly.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 1:14 PM on August 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

The soundtrack is my favorite part of the show so far, but that is not a knock on the rest of it by any means. (Link is to the soundtrack album on youtube, which is my Saturday cleaning mood music today - though I'm not going to get my living room clean enough to pass resort muster.)

I do wonder how many rich people jokes I'm missing, especially after coming across this Jeremy O. Harris tweet demanding a dramaturgical explanation for Rachel's Goyard bag - I would never have picked that out as a fancy bag, so who knows how many other subtle costuming and set dressing choices I'm missing out on.

I don't have a good guess as to who dies yet - though after this most recent episode, I'm kinda rooting for Rachel to murder Shane's mom. (Only because we know it isn't Shane, which is a shame.)

I was enjoying the awkward tension but the fourth episode started to tip over into too much for me - I'm assuming the tension has reached it's high point now and the fifth episode is going to have at least a couple of these situations reach a breaking point. But maybe I'm fooling myself with my hope for relief.

Mainly I hope that Belinda decides to stick with investing in herself somehow after Tanya inevitably lets her down.
posted by the primroses were over at 9:28 AM on August 7, 2021 [3 favorites]

My money’s on Quinn being the one who doesn’t make it out alive. He’s the only character who has zero agenda, and is able to see the beauty of the world around him once the digital screens and wealth-shrouded fakery are out of his way. He’s pure, which makes me very worried for him.

I agree with everyone that the music and the opening credit artwork are sensational. So so so so good.

My favorite character, by far, is Armond. Murray Bartlett is just a revelation. His charisma crackles, and as he slides deeper off the wagon and into chaos, he just leans into it. He knows who he is, and he owns it—he’s basically all “whatever, I’m losing this job anyway, let’s fuck.” I loved how he felt legit bad for being so oblivious to poor pregnant Lani. He’s definitely on a dangerous spiral, but if he gets killed I will absolutely bawl.

Also I have to be an outlier and say that Jennifer Coolidge is teetering on the brink of being boring, because she plays the same character over and over. She’ll never top what she did in “Best in Show.”

Oh and Sydney Sweeney is TERRIFYING in this. Someone upthread mentioned menace, and that’s it exactly. (I had to find out if her voice is always that weird and disaffected and nasal, so we watched “Nocturne,” and I’m here to report that yes, that’s what she sounds like. Eek.)
posted by flyingsquirrel at 8:34 PM on August 7, 2021 [5 favorites]

Look obviously, imperialism was bad -- shouldn't kill people, steal their land, and then make'em dance. Everybody knows that.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:12 AM on August 9, 2021 [22 favorites]

Oh god, another just unbearably tense episode. It's a good thing this is only 6 episodes, it is taking years off my life.

I had to pause the episode to yell at Paula when she was talking Kai into the robbery. Steal the damn bracelets yourself if you're so sure this is a good way to get reparations, damn.

I think this show must be popular, because the HBOmax app is always screwed up if I try to watch the episode when it airs. Same thing happened with the last couple episodes of Mare of Easttown.
posted by the primroses were over at 10:00 AM on August 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Paula needed a good yelling at. Now Kai is on the run? But, good on him for leaning into the burglary part and then fleeing.

I loved Tanya's hysterical "core of the onion" outburst. I was just starting to think that BLM guy was dabbling, which he still might be, but he stayed through that. Good for him. And, good for Tanya who knows that she's a lunatic alcoholic. There's something to be said for clarity, even if she's not planning to do anything about it. Also, Belinda, please don't pin your hopes to a lunatic alcoholic!

I do wonder how many rich people jokes I'm missing, especially after coming across this Jeremy O. Harris tweet demanding a dramaturgical explanation for Rachel's Goyard bag - I would never have picked that out as a fancy bag, so who knows how many other subtle costuming and set dressing choices I'm missing out on.

I don't know anything about this level of wealth, and now I want a Tom & Lorenzo style recap of the fashion choices on this show. The AV Club recap linked to the hotel where the show filmed so we could see the per night cost of the suites. It's pretty interesting to see the levels of wealth on the show through that lens. Like, $6K-$10K per night. And, if Armond comps the Pineapple Suite, it could be as much as $25K/night.
posted by gladly at 11:50 AM on August 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

As of today I've only watched the first two episodes, as they became available. And then when the third one popped up I decided I'd get to it later...then later...and I'm trying to figure out what about the show makes me kind of dread watching it. I've been reading about the episodes I haven't seen yet and spoiling myself on purpose, and I think I need to wait until I can find out who actually dies and how before I commit to the last four hours. (If I end up watching them at all.)

It's a very well-done show, but the second episode especially felt like a long watch. I think a big part of it is the tension, which has been layered on through music, dialogue, acting, and the lighting, which I didn't even notice until I found this thread. You know from the jump that someone is going to die, which is intriguing. But the trailer that auto-played at the end of episode 1 shows a lot more stressful, violent situations than I was anticipating.

I checked the show out after I saw Linda Holmes raving about it on Twitter--she said it's a smart and funny show, and I could totally get into a modern satire about terrible rich people. The opening scene with Armond and Lani had some of that tone but then as the show went on I really didn't find it funny and it just makes me extremely uncomfortable. (Actually, the first few episodes of Glee struck that fun dark comedy note for me and then it veered way too hard in the opposite, sappy teen soap opera direction.) Maybe some of it hits too close to home--what I've read about Shane's mother will probably remind me of one of my close relatives, whom I already see echoes of in how Shane treats the staff. I sympathize with Rachel wanting to curl up in a little ball and disappear when that happens, but she married into it.

Tl;dr I binged season 1 of Ted Lasso in the time it took me to parse through how I felt about this show and that was much more the show I needed!
posted by j.r at 9:45 PM on August 10, 2021

How the heck is Ned Schneebly such an amazing writer and creator?

I agree that the tone of this show is incredibly fascinating, and every aspect of its production really contributes to it feeling really heavy and intense (that squeaky music!) to the point where I also kind of have to psych myself up to watch.

Absolutely agree that it needs Tom & Lorenzo recaps. I think it was in the pilot where Rachael is wearing a white bathing suit (with all its complicated associations with innocence, purity, and matrimony) and submerges herself into the wine-dark swimming pool (representing her entry into this world of wealth and entitlement that she maybe isn't ready for.

Great stuff.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:56 AM on August 13, 2021 [2 favorites]

Had to quit around episode 3. Miserable people I hated slowly revealing more and more of how shit they and the world they live in is. I could tell it's a "good" show, but every character was loathsome and I wanted them all to explode and it was clear it would not be happening. It was a weird feeling being super uncomfortable at certain moments, with no relief since the characters are terrible people and you don't empathize with any of them at all.

The part of the show I liked was the into song and music in general. Sounded like they maybe even used a Daxophone, neat!

Just read the synopsis for the rest of the episodes since I couldn't bear to sit through em and I am still glad I didn't finish watching. Again, not a bad show, I just hated every second of the experience of watching it.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:21 AM on August 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Thankful for two things:

They didn't use Hawaiian music as the backdrop for the really gross stuff at the end. What they did choose I was not super excited about, but I would have absolutely hated to watch that stuff with the Hawaiian music they have been using and potentially have that association in the future.

They threw us one crumb, one unequivocally emotionally gratifying resolution. It was pretty corny, but I actually smiled when it happened.
posted by BibiRose at 11:22 AM on August 17, 2021

Link to final episode thread.
posted by jeather at 11:47 AM on August 17, 2021

I enjoyed this very much, having been a big fan of Mike White since I fell in love with Enlightened. It was a great blend of black comedy and drama, with very few people realising that actions have consequences. Paula, maybe, when she realised she'd helped Kai ruin his life, but it didn't seem to stick.

The first time Shane started going on about having the 'wrong' room, I immediately thought of this AskMe. Jake Lacy played Shane's entitlement and douchebaggery to perfection, but I'm afraid every time I see him I can never remember his name, just "oh, he's the guy who was Plop in The Office". I thought Rachel would stick with him, although there'd be a lot of eggshell-walking for her if she did.

Armond had a touch of Basil Fawlty about him, the obsequiousness, the contempt for the guests, the manic behaviour - even the look of him. I wonder if that was deliberate. I thought he might wipe his ass with one of Shane's expensive polo shirts...

I was surprised Lani (who had the baby in Ep 1) wasn't featured again, but we never saw her, and that seemed to be a bit random and bizarre. Maybe a commentary on the interchangeability of the hotel staff.

The last scene between Tanya and Belinda was so sad. Natasha Rothwell's acting was wonderful, the way she had to paste a smile back on her face to answer the phone, holding back her feelings when she probably wanted to yell "FUCK YOU!" at Tanya.

Quinn's ending was far-fetched. There's no way his control-freak mother would have allowed him to stay in Hawaii. The plane would never have taken off, or his dad would've been sent to find him.

But overall, I found this a very enjoyable watch which I binged over a couple of days. The thought of staying in a resort (or going on a cruise) makes my skin crawl. I think the fact we didn't see much of Hawaii was deliberate, because most guests on that type of holiday probably never leave the compound.
posted by essexjan at 8:42 AM on August 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

(For anyone else looking, there's more discussion about the entire season in the finale post).
posted by Nelson at 8:16 AM on September 10, 2021

Carefully not reading comments because I’m only on episode 5. BUT.

OMG why does Sheryl Sandburg expect her son and two college girls to share a living room for a week? She can afford rooms for all of them.

Also, Armond is behaving terribly but Shane is such a … I don’t even have a good word for it. Asshole is not harsh enough.
posted by bunderful at 9:19 PM on August 29, 2022

I was ready to throw in the towel after episode 1--as GoblinHoney says, none of the characters were likable (with the exceptions of Lani, who was immediately written out, and Belinda), but my wife was really into it, so I stuck with it. Ultimately found it rewarding to watch.

It occurred to me on the 5th or 6th episode that it is depicting a very twisted version of Fantasy Island.
posted by adamrice at 2:55 PM on December 25, 2022

Had to quit around episode 3. Miserable people I hated slowly revealing more and more of how shit they and the world they live in is. I could tell it's a "good" show, but

I'm sort of with you, though I did stick with it. But I can't tell a lie, I started fast-forwarding at some point in episode four.

I also didn't really mind the "miserable people I hated slowly revealing more and more" stuff. I generally don't mind this sort of stuff as long as the drama itself keeps moving, keeps engaging. I can stick with a Todd Solondz movie, no problem. Hell, I stuck with Seinfeld all the way to the end and frankly found that divisive final episode to be a genuine high point in TV history.

So what failed for me with White Lotus?

If I can point at one concern, it's length. There is simply not enough compelling drama, comedy, mystery, whatever to sustain what amounts to a six hour dramatic movie. The immediately obvious character in this regard would be Tanya. It takes forever for her to finally get to dumping the ashes, and then she doesn't (which I saw coming a mile away), and then it just sort of carries on for what, three more episodes -- her fabulous confusion. And it is fabulous. There's just too much of it. It becomes soap opera, an entirely solid actor working an entirely interesting character ... but at some point, there's not enough there to justify the screen time, it's just filling space.

Which I suppose goes for the whole show. I honestly can't think of any aspect of it that needed to go on for as long as it did. As a two, two-and-a-half hour movie, I imagine it would be EVERYTHING I hear pretty much everybody saying about it as a TV series. But as is, sorry, my thumb is inclined downward.

An entirely worthy movie forced to become a stretched out TV series because that's what the market wants these days. I'm really starting to hate The Golden Age of Television (TM)
posted by philip-random at 11:16 AM on January 7, 2023 [2 favorites]

My thoughts about this show so far:
1. Boom cha boom-boom-boom cha boom-boom, cha boom boom boom
2. There's a lot of pretty necklaces and earrings.
posted by fleacircus at 11:08 PM on February 2, 2023

Well that was not a satisfying resolution to any of those storylines tbh.
posted by fleacircus at 1:43 AM on February 4, 2023

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