‘The White Lotus’ season 2 review: A dazzling exploration of jealousy, desire, and sexual politics

The second season of the Emmy-winning show has everything that made the first season irresistible — picture-perfect locations, a great-looking cast, sharp writing, and a propulsive plot

The second season of the Emmy-winning show has everything that made the first season irresistible — picture-perfect locations, a great-looking cast, sharp writing, and a propulsive plot

The White Lotus gang has moved to Sicily in the second season of Mike White’s gorgeous social satire. The show, which swept the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards with 10 awards, is back for another season with a new set of guests and staff at yet another picture-perfect location in an opulent five-star property.

The White Lotus Season 2

Creator: Mike White

Cast: F. Murray Abraham, Jennifer Coolidge, Adam DiMarco, Beatrice Grannò, Meghann Fahy, Tom Hollander, Sabrina Impacciatore, Michael Imperioli, Theo James, Aubrey Plaza, Will Sharpe, Haley Lu Richardson, Simona Tabasco, Jon Gries, Leo Woodall

Season: 2 

Episodes: 5 out of 7

Runtime: 54–65 minutes  

Storyline: Rich white tourists continue to behave badly, in Sicily this time

White, who has written and directed the show, decided to give colonialism a break to avoid getting “sniper fire from every direction” and focus on sexual politics. Inspired by the 12th-century Sicilian legend of an Italian woman who decapitated her cheating Moorish lover, White describes season 2 as a “bedroom farce with teeth.” Filling his sumptuous hotel with people across gender, age and sexuality, White explores jealousy and desire. By setting the second season in Sicily, the home of the mafia, White also deconstructs socially accepted notions of masculinity.

Like the first, the sophomore season also begins with a body and goes back a week to introduce the various players in this tragic-comedy. There is Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore), the resort manager, briefing her staff much like the late, lamented Armond in Hawaii. Three generations of the Di Grasso family, 80-year-old Bert (F. Murray Abraham), his son and a Hollywood producer Dominic (Michael Imperioli), and grandson and a newly minted graduate Albie (Adam DiMarco) have come to Sicily in search of their roots.

Two couples — Daphne (Meghann Fahy) and Cameron (Theo James), and Harper (Aubrey Plaza) and Ethan (Will Sharpe) — also check-in. While the former represents old wealth, Ethan recently sold his company for a ton of money. Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) from season 1 is the only returning guest. She comes to Sicily with Greg (Jon Gries), who she fell in love with in the last season. Greg’s idea of a romantic getaway is nixed when he sees Tanya bring her assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) along.

Like the woke teenagers in Hawaii, Olivia and Paula, Sicily has Mia (Beatrice Grannò) and Lucia (Simona Tabasco) provide a running commentary on the guests and their peccadilloes like a hectic, glamorous Greek chorus. Unlike a chorus, however, they get increasingly involved with the guests. There is the super-rich jet set led by British ex-pat Quentin (Tom Hollander) and his naughty nephew, Jack (Leo Woodall). In the five episodes for review, the second season has everything that made the first irresistible, from dazzling locations and a great looking cast, to sharp writing, and a propulsive plot.

The Di Grasso men have different attitudes towards gender. While at first, it seems easy to forgive Bert for his political incorrectness on account of his age, hate Dominic for his serial infidelities and laud Albie for how his sensitivity, life and people are not so easily categorized.

Harper, who has a real job, feels superior to Daphne for being idle rich and not watching the news, till she does not. There is more to Cameron than the senseless alpha. Ethan is more than the nerd who made it big, and Valentina is not a single-note control freak — she feeds kittens on her lunch break.

If it seems slightly shallow compared to the first season, that is not such a bad thing as jealousy and passion also make the world go around. Sicily can be seductive as one of the characters comments and sinking into seven hours of grand old buildings, the swirling sea, a restaurant with a rather tasteless recreation of a scene from The Godfather, a Vespa ride (cliched but nevertheless charming) and the opera, is definitely time well spent.

A final thought from a Wordle-obsessed mind, louts is an anagram for lotus…

‘The White Lotus’ season 2 streams on Disney+ Hotstar from October 30

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