Title Card 2 - The White Lotus Season 1 Episode 1 [Premiere]

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A handful of eccentric people end up on Hawaiian resort where, in one week, someone dies.

Episode Name Arrivals
Aired 7/11/2021
Network HBO
Created By Mike White
Directed By Mike White
Written By Mike White
Genre Comedy, Drama, Romance, Young Adult
Introduced This Episode
Armond Murray Bartlett
Rachel Alexandra Daddario
Shane Jake Lacy
Nicole Connie Britton
Mark Steve Zahn
Olivia Sydney Sweeney
Paula Brittany O’Grady
Tanya Jennifer Coolidge
Belinda Natasha Rothwell
Lani Jolene Purdy
Quinn Fred Hechinger

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Plot Overview

A handful of rich, sometimes snobbishly privileged people come to a Hawaiian resort known as The White Lotus. It is run by Armond, with the assistance of the Spa Manager Belinda, a new trainee named Lani, among many more. The guest for the week includes the Mossbacher family, consisting of Mark, who worried he has testicular cancer, his wife, Nicole, who is the CFO of Poof, their children, Quinn and Olivia, as well as Olivia’s friend from college, Paula. Alongside them there is Tanya, who is still reeling from the death of her mother, as well as newlyweds Shane and Rachel, who can be seen as Beauty and the entitled twerp.

Together, the guest seem hell-bent on driving Armond and Belinda mad, and we’re told, by the time this whole trip is over, someone goes home in a box. All signs point to Rachel but considering the guest are starting to intermingle, the only thing we know for sure is that Shane lives to be saddened by what happened.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Prep to see Steve Zahn’s penis and testicles.

The (Potential) Hooks

Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) at the resort's spa
Belinda (Natasha Rothwell)
  1. Belinda losing her mind dealing with Tanya.
  2. Olivia and Paula getting into some fun as they mess with some of the younger members of the White Lotus’ staff.
  3. Armond and Shane going to war with one another.
  4. Rachel taking off the rose-colored glasses she has on, and realizing the man she married is rich, but a terrible person.
  5. Figuring out whether Rachel or Shane’s mom dies or if the limited series will present an unexpected twist.

Commentary/ Review


While Many Characters Are Weird, It Isn’t In A Off-Putting Way

The benefit of producing a limited series is that you don’t have to think of commercial appeal since you aren’t looking for a second season. Hence why limited series usually can be subversive in ways multi-season show rarely do anymore. But, with that said, we get some weird ones on this show because of it.

The weirdest, naturally, comes from Steve Zahn and Jennifer Coolidge, who have pretty much built their careers on being characters like Mark and Tanya. Mark’s eccentricities stem from believing he has testicular cancer and obsessing over the size of his balls. Which, to a certain degree, his wife, Nicole, cares about, but it’s clear they have a marriage based on divorce being an arduous process than them being in love.

Tanya MacQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) correcting the staff on how to say her name
Tanya MacQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge)

As for Tanya, how she reacts to Belinda in this episode, and previews, makes it seem she’ll become obsessed with her. Now, let it be noted, Natasha Rothwell doesn’t necessarily bring out the style of humor she introduced to us in Insecure as Kelli, nor the taste we got in Love, Simon. However, it seems Tanya is definitely going to push her buttons and bring out a side of her that isn’t going to care how much Tanya is in mourning. Which, hopefully, will lead to the antics we’re familiar with.

Bringing this show’s level of weird down a notch, we then have Armond and Shane, who will drive each other nuts, and add in Shane’s mom is going to join things? It means learning how much of a momma’s boy he is and seeing how terrible of a decision has Rachel possibly made, especially since Shane’s attitude gives you teenager with permission to use parents’ credit card vibes.

This leaves the last two who are weird, but only because their relationship is perhaps the most interesting. Olivia and Paula are sophomores who met in college, and the way it is explained, Paula awakened something in Olivia, not in a lesbian way, but more so expanded her views on life and her family. Yet, with Paula interested in the locals and sneaking out, it isn’t clear whether or not there is jealousy there. However, watching them mess with Rachel? Oh, that was fun.

Who Is In The Box?

Anyone could end up in that box, and it makes you wonder if it’ll be someone who isn’t rich, like Paula or Rachel? However, there is also the option of someone who dies due to neglect, like Quinn, who doesn’t seem to be a strong focus in his family. Also, there is Nicole or Mark, despite how notable she is and his status because of her. Heck, let’s throw in Tanya due to her getting on Belinda’s nerves! I mean, doesn’t she and Armand look like they could snap at a moment’s notice? And while we know Shane lives, there is the possibility things escalate with Armand to the point someone goes over the balcony.


Not All Characters Are Created Equal

Mark (Steve Zahn) with his son
Mark (Steve Zahn)

Connie Britton is starting to become one of those actors who seems typecast, and it makes even the change of her playing a CFO not enough to make her dull amongst everyone else. I’d even add in Quinn since it seems his part in this might be a crutch for Mark’s character and to give Britton’s Nicole the one boy, one girl ideal family setup.

Also, while his testicular cancer worries are understandable, it doesn’t necessarily draw you into Mark’s life of care about his mortality. If anything, between his response, which is often comical, and how his character tries to illicit sympathy, due to his son being the age when his dad died, the whole storyline falls flat, making those directly affected by his storyline at a disadvantage.

Lastly, regarding the staff at The White Lotus, while Belinda and Armond are hooks, Lani, and the others, we were introduced to? Some, like Lani, seem like they could be the star of a short-lived show focused on the people most productions ignore, particularly when it comes to Hawaii. The rest? They fill out the cast, make sure The White Lotus has the staff you expect, but are interchangeable and don’t drive interest.

Initial Impression

Paula (Brittany O'Grady) and Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) making fun of people
Paula (Brittany O’Grady) and Olivia (Sydney Sweeney)

I can’t imagine The White Lotus getting HBO a gang of nominations or awards, but to keep people on the hook and continuing to subscribe to HBO or HBO Max? It could be good enough. It doesn’t necessarily have that one character or story which could easily sell the show, but with familiar faces in situations you’re used to them being in, if you wanted more of the same from this actor or that one, The White Lotus is for you.

Armond (Murray Bartlett) and Lani (Jolene Purdy) waving
The White Lotus: Season 1 Episode 1 [Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)
Who Is This For?
People who are fans of the actors involved or who like seeing rich people flex their privilege and behave badly.
While Many Characters Are Weird, It Isn't In A Off-Putting Way
Who Is In The Box?
Not All Characters Are Created Equal

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