Mike White has done it again. The writer, producer, director, and (when he feels like it) actor, has delivered high-quality, entertaining, original content to our screens. And given the totality of this series combined with the circumstances of it rising from the ashes like the phoenix during the Covid years, it might just be his best work yet.
For me, it wasn't a question of pointing out elements of the show I wasn't in love with, poking holes in the project after Sunday's finale. It was concluding that there wasn't a single component of the show that I wasn't a fan of when all was said and done.
Immediately, like many others, I was fascinated by the duality between Ethan (Will Sharpe) and his wife Harper (Aubrey Plaza) and their "are they really friends?" friends Cameron (Theo James) and Daphne (Meghann Fahy). One seemingly perfect couple on paper wrought with friction and a sex life so lacking Ethan would rather masturbate on vacation than fuck his wife. Meanwhile, Daphne and Cameron openly cheat on one another but appear very much in love, not lacking physical attention for one another, and even use their openness to fuel their passion for one another.
Naturally, with these conflicting personalities and lifestyles, the audience is buckled in as the couples' vacation experience comes to a head. Now, I'm purposefully avoiding spoilers in this post, but I will say that Meghann Fahy's performance throughout the season, in particular the season finale, was my absolute favorite. A masterclass in acting.
If I explored every dynamic, storyline, and character arc of the remainder of the cast this blog post would turn into a novel, and quite frankly, ain't nobody got time for that. Just know that I was captivated by everyone from Tanya (of course), to the Di Grasso men, Lucia and Mia, Quentin, hell even the Hotel Manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore). There wasn't a single path Mike White led me down that I didn't wilfully follow with a smile on my face. Even if the finale had me cold sweating from start to finish.
Ensemble aside, it was the overarching theme of sex and exchanges for it that made White Lotus season 2 so riveting. Whether it was money, power, a favor, retribution, etc. every guest at the ultra-luxurious White Lotus resorts in Sicily found themselves either on the receiving end of a transaction unbeknownst to them or flexing their sexual power over an oftentimes unsuspecting victim. Throw a glimpse of a floating body in the opening scene of episode 1 and the mention of "bodies" as in, plural, and we have ourselves a bit of a coitus-filled murder mystery in an exotic location filled with attractive hotel guests and staff intermingled with local sex workers.
What's not to love?!
The performances across the board were strong and I'll be curious to see what if any of the actors are nominated for any awards following this season. Especially with Jennifer Coolidge taking home the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series after season 1. A well-deserved accomplishment, to say the least.
I wish I had the time for a proper re-watch but alas, adulting will prevent me from doing such things. A shame given that with the unraveling of the season episode by episode I believe it's ripe for a revisit.
But, whether you're revisiting or have somehow stumbled across this blog and I've used my Jedi-mind tricks to prompt you to fire up HBO Max to partake in it for the first time, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I do.
See you in Tokyo for season 3.