The Sunday Magazine: The White Lotus


Just as I hope those who visit Colognoisseur find my opinion to have some value, I have critics who I like a lot. Much of the books, music, movies, and television I partake of comes from when there is a consensus among them. Every once in a while, I walk away baffled at what they are praising. This was my experience with the TV series “The White Lotus”.

The reason I was so interested was HBO had given critics the entire series for them to review. Most of the time they only get a few episodes. Almost uniformly they wrote of this satirical look at class in America. It was created by Mike White who also created one of my favorite series “Enlightened”. That was a sharp commentary on the business world that I enjoyed. I thought this could be similarly illuminating.

The premise is The White Lotus is an exclusive resort in Hawaii. Guests are brought there to have a luxurious vacation experience. The show focuses on a pair of newlyweds. A neurotic woman there to spread her recently deceased mother’s ashes. A family headed by a woman who created her own company accompanied by her family. Their stay is overseen by the manager of the hotel. In the prologue in the first episode you learn somebody dies. The following five episodes reveals who it was.

Here was my dilemma. By episode 5 I was hoping all of them were the body in the box. This was a collection of unpleasant people doing unpleasant things. Every single one of them. The only sympathetic character is the woman who runs the spa. Her story ends in tears because one of these selfish rich people didn’t give a damn about this person.

I am not sure what Mr. White was after. After nearly six episodes of these characters throwing emotional shrapnel not caring about the collateral damage. They all walk away without any illumination. Oblivious to the horrible people they are. Even when it seems like a couple of them might learn something the moral becomes “the money/status is too important to give up”.

I get that might be realistic, but I watch television to see a story with an arc. This story starts out with a bunch of assholes and ends with a bunch of assholes except one is in a coffin. I wish I had these six hours back.

Mark Behnke

2 thoughts on “The Sunday Magazine: The White Lotus

  1. Thankyou for your accurate recap ( in my opinion) Mark! I had no idea what it was about but luckily I only saw the last half hour and I was horrified and disgusted with the graphic scene of the hotel manager defecating. I won’t say where or why but I’m thrilled i only wasted half an hour on this c r a p!! (Sorry! Couldn’t resist!!!

  2. Completely agree there was not a single likable character on the show! I wouldn’t exclude the spa owner from that category – she refused to book a service for the anxious old woman and pitched her services instead. One word to describe this – manipulation. And she did end with an envelope full of cash. Come on – if you want to start a business, you’d never pick an unstable person as a partner, least of all the financing one. So there, nobody was likable.

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