Image of article titled The White Lotus takes inspiration from Hawaii's romantic appeal when it first soured

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In the season six premiere of Mad Men, the two-part episode ” The door “, Jon Hamm’s Don Draper is working on an advertising campaign for the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. After a trip to the hotel that mixed business research with a vacation for him and his wife Megan (Jessica Pare), and after seeing the doorman at their New York apartment building almost die before being revived, all the disgust Don’s latent and his barely hidden desire to disappear rushes into his proposed ad. The idea, which Don sees as a fresh start, reads to everyone like suicidal ideation: “Hawaii. The starting point. A business suit and shoes are thrown onto a beach, and footsteps in the sand lead to the water. “The starting point”: maybe the beginning, and maybe the end. And the space in between is where The white lotus start.

Forgive me for discussing another show in this recap of the premiere, but Hawaii has long taken some type of baggage with it for the tourists, vacationers, and intruders who project so much on the island. Other TV shows and movies like Hawaii 5-0, The descendants, and Forget Sarah Marshall all probed the disconnect between the (often wealthy) people who view Hawaii as a transitional vacation destination, an island defined by its resorts and hotels, and the people (often working class) who actually work in said resorts and hotels – the temporary versus the permanent. The white lotus immediately jumps into the heart of this conversation with the first episode “Arrivals”, which gives us a glimpse into the biting and acerbic tone of Mike White (from Enlightened) will be cultivated over the six episodes of the mini-series.

There are quite a few LOL moments in that first hour, but I’m not sure I’m feeling good after them. Whatever the fun The white lotus provided on a scene-to-scene basis in “Arrivals” was immediately followed by a lingering sort of bitterness – the way you experience a pain in your jaw after eating something very sour or very tangy. Think about the opening credits and how the wallpaper’s idyllic tropical images revealed hidden threats: snakes among the fruit, bugs among the leaves, jellyfish in the water, a wave that threatened to overwhelm a little one. boat. What danger awaits the White Lotus? The vapidity and pettiness of the guests. The simmering irritation of the staff. With its high price tag and obedient workers, this place is supposed to bring happiness. “You have to treat these people like sensitive children. They always say it’s about the money, but it’s not. It’s not even the bedroom. They just need to feel seen. They want to be the only child, ”complex manager Armond (Murray Bartlett) told new employee Lani (Jolene Purdy). Maybe this has worked for Armond in the past. But with this new group of guests? Are they the kind of people who will be soothed by this somewhat pampering, somewhat punitive approach?

We start the “Arrivals” one week in the future. At an airport, while waiting for a flight from Hawaii, we learn through this incredibly awkward conversation between newlywed Shane (Jake Lacy) and this curious / friendly couple that someone has passed away at the White Lotus. Was it Shane’s wife? He avoids answering where she is. He goes to the airport window to watch the box of human remains being loaded onto the plane. Perhaps this is too obvious a mistake. But I think that the fact that we see Shane alone here is an important point, especially given what else we learn about him and his relationship with his new wife Rachel (Alexandra Daddario), over the next hour or so. We then jump a week back, on the boat taking the guests to the Lotus Blanc. No, I didn’t assume that the sarcastic and nihilistic descriptions of the other guests by vacationing students Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) and her friend Paula (Brittany O’Grady) were accurate in every detail. But the rich are good at evaluating the other rich, and all the cruel and flippant blows Olivia throws at her fellow vacationers seem to come from a place of simultaneous knowledge and judgment.

The same could be said for Armond, who waits alongside Lani and spa manager Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) to greet White Lotus guests as they arrive. As he tells Lani in this later lobby scene, he has a general idea of ​​who can afford those multi-thousand dollar stays, and he knows the picture the staff need to present: smiling, accommodating, pleasant and immemorial. “Self-disclosure is discouraged. You want to be more generic…. It’s tropical kabuki. The “general impression of vagueness” that Armond told Lani to cultivate appears when Shane and Rachel walk together arm in arm, and she falls into an existential crisis when called “Mrs. Patton”, and Armond and Lani politely ignore her brief fit and direct the newlyweds to the Palm Suite. It happens when the rich and crazy Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) staggers to the staff “in desperate need of a massage”, and no, she is not difficult, but also, she will not do reiki, and also , didn’t they understand when she said at present? Does Tanya know that she is a lot, and does not care? Where does she think she is do not a lot, and totally lacking in self-awareness? Coolidge is always on top of the joke with her characters, and I can’t wait to see how precise and precise she will be with this performance.

What about Olivia and Paula, who were judging everyone on the boat? They are part of the Mossbacher family, traveling alongside Matriarch Nicole (Connie Britton), CEO of Technology, her husband Mark (Steve Zahn), who is awaiting medical test results, and her 16-year-old son, Quinn (Fred Hechinger), who both young women relentlessly bully. Olivia, Mossbacher’s daughter, brought a friend to Paula, and the two are maybe lovers? Trying to navigate the intricacies of this relationship makes me feel like I’m old, and I don’t think we’re supposed to see these characters as audience surrogates, even though they provided the first impressions of their fellow vacationers. . I think we’re supposed to arouse some skepticism towards this pair, with all their lofty statements about classism, feminism, sexism and capitalism, as we do towards Nicole, Olivia’s busy mother, and her stereotypical crisis. quarantine. t daddy Mark.

Of all these people, it’s Quinn who hasn’t yet shown himself to be self-centered, guest-style, survival-style, staff-style. Unlike Shane, who ruins his honeymoon by wondering if he’s in the right suite and pushing his wife away with her demands that they get what they paid for in the Pineapple Suite, though, like the Rachel points out, “Technically, we don’t pay you anything; your parents are. (Daddario’s face when Shane de Lacy asked “Maybe I should call my mom?” Was fantastic.) Unlike Quinn’s sister Olivia and her friend Paula who are so carelessly cruel to Rachel when she tries to gossip at the pool, either by making her laugh in front of her or by ignoring her questions about themselves. (Veer’s Cristobal Tapia animal screaming score was used perfectly during this scene, especially when Rachel stripped naked and locked the sophomores with her body in that white bikini.) Ash (legitimately sad !) and which immediately presents itself as a sort of holistic guide to Belinda’s (potentially manipulative!) well-being. Rothwell and Coolidge were on a different level in this scene, from Coolidge’s heartbreaking emotion in “I can’t get rid of this feeling, like a really empty feeling.” I want someone to find out for me ”to Rothwell’s certainty of conducting this Hindu chant, and to the bewilderment of Coolidge’s very inaccurate repetition. Unlike Quinn’s father, Mark, who is so convinced he has cancer and is so afraid of dying like his own father did, that he slips into a kind of conservatism – “The modern world of today. ‘hui is so emasculating’ – which discourages Quinn. to spend time with him. (Zahn’s casting here is so smart against the guy I might have to see again Reality hurts to make sure I’m now watching the same actor parrot Jordan Peterson’s thought experiments of who men are in today’s society, blah blah blah.)

And finally, the quality of Quinn’s blank slate is different from Armond, who makes two major mistakes this episode that I think will shape the series to come. The first is his double booking of the Pineapple Suite, which probably could have been ironed out with someone who is not as obsessive and as convinced as he has been. wronged, like Shane. And second, he’s completely unaware that Lani is pregnant. No, she didn’t disclose it in her White Lotus application because she needed the job and needed the money. But has Armond internalized the demands of this job, and the self-diminishing demanded of staff, so much that he does it to other people as well? Didn’t he see what Lani was going through because he rightfully missed it? Or because he treated her like a guest would have treated her – like she was nothing and nobody? Armond seems legitimately shaken by this, and perhaps he is wondering about himself what Mark had said to Quinn: “Every child that grows up wants to be the hero of the story, and in the end … you are just happy not to be the bad guy. “Maybe no one at the White Lotus has turned out to be a straight villain yet. But heroes? I don’t know how many there are in this hotel either.

Stray observations

  • Olivia and Paula are obviously Red Scare listeners.
  • However, I have to admit that I liked Paula’s “LOST HOPE” shirt. I am sorry!
  • Holiday readings spotted this episode: Olivia and Paula read Nietzsche and Freud by the pool.
  • Everything Coolidge does on this show is amazing, but his description of “Two Syllables, But Part Two Is One Syllable” of how to pronounce the surname “McQuoid” was transcendent.
  • I don’t think Britton has had much to do yet, but the quick difference in his line deliveries of the uncomfortably genuine “You’ve got a great body, Paula” and the genuinely irritated “You’ve got a great body too, Olivia! ” made me smile.
  • “Why are the rich always the cheapest? In this TED talk about Jake Lacy’s fantastic performance as male child Shane Patton, I’m going to… ”
  • Seriously, though: Did Shane and Rachel have any real substantive conversations before they got married? She didn’t wonder if she should change her name. He denies it with statements like “You haven’t traveled much,” using it as a justification for his dissatisfaction (“I just want this to be perfect for you”), then seamlessly pivot into sexual demands ( “Maybe a first pipe?”). They don’t seem to be on the same page.
  • We’ll never see Lani again, will we?

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