In a cross talk, two writers sit down to discuss a book, movie, TV show, or piece of art they both feel strongly about. Sometimes they disagree; other times, they’re in perfect harmony. Here, Executive Editor Jem Shin and Arts & Culture Editor Kat Struhar discuss Season 2 of “The White Lotus,” a Golden Globe-winning comedy-drama series written and directed by Mike White ’92.
“The White Lotus” Season 2 follows an ensemble cast including a family trying to reconnect with their roots, two couples who claim to be friends, and a rich but lonely woman with her assistant as they vacation in beautiful Sicily, Italy, staying in a hotel called The White Lotus. However, the longer they stay at the hotel, the direr their situations become. Through cheating scandals, pill mix-ups, and potentially murderous gay people, “The White Lotus” portrays a dark, twisted, and sexy depiction of the people we become on vacation.
This article contains spoilers for “The White Lotus” and has been edited for length and clarity.
Kat Struhar: So we watched all of “The White Lotus” Seasons 1 and 2 together, and we watched the [Season 2] finale when it aired on Dec. 11, 2022. Did you know that Mike White went to Wesleyan before we started?
Jem Shin: I did not know, but now I’m in love with him.
KS: I knew him from “Survivor” before this, and I was very impressed with him getting second place. I saw this tweet that was like, “Mike White is the only valid Wesleyan white bisexual.” And honestly, I think that’s a perfect way to put it.
To get into the show, I feel like I’ve heard a lot of people say that they like the second season better than the first season. What do you think?
JS: I think there’s good things about both of them. I think Season 1 is more cohesive because the stories come together better at the end. But Season 2 has Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) telling Jennifer Coolidge that she looks like Peppa Pig.
KS: I can definitely see in [the humor] that [Mike White] went to Wesleyan. I feel like Albie (Adam DiMarco) could have been a student here. Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) could be a Wesleyan student too.
JS: Portia dresses like the people here.
KS: Did you see all the tweets of people making fun of Portia for how she dresses? And then did you see the thing where someone was explaining it by saying she’s purposefully dressed to look like she has no idea who she is.
JS: That’s smart.
KS: Who are your favorite characters?
JS: I love Valentina.
KS: Because she’s gay?
JS: Because she’s gay.
KS: I like that all White Lotuses are run by gay people.
JS: It just shows our power. Mike White was really representing us with that.
KS: Gay people excel at hotel management.
JS: But do it kind of badly in the show. That’s why I liked Armond (Murray Bartlett) in Season 1 too, because he was gay and trying his best. I think they’re the best characters out of both the seasons.
KS: My favorite character is Daphne (Meghann Fahy). I love that in the first couple of episodes, she seems a little bit two-dimensional. And then as you go more and more into the show, you find out about how she’s cheating on her husband and just trying to do what she can to be happy and even maybe had one of her kids with her trainer.
What were some of your favorite scenes of the show?
JS: I liked at the very end of the show in the finale when they were all on that yacht, the gays and Tanya. I think there was tension because you don’t know what’s gonna happen at the very end, and we were all afraid of who would die.
KS: There’s no more iconic line than “These gays are trying to murder me.”
I really enjoyed the final scene. I liked that it ended with Mia (Beatrice Grannò) and Lucia (Simona Tabasco) walking away and winning, being girlbosses.
JS: Absolutely slay-queening. I think it’s hilarious that Mia was able to use Albie like that.
KS: He’s really stupid for that.
JS: It’s so generational.
KS: I saw a TikTok that was like, “If the first ‘White Lotus’ season was about race and class, this season of ‘White Lotus’ is about misogyny.” And it mostly is shown through the grandpa, the dad, and the son, Albie. And how all of them are misogynistic but in different ways because they’re from three different generations. What do you think about that?
JS: I think it’s right. You see it in the relationship between Harper (Aubrey Plaza) and Ethan (Will Sharpe), and how they compare themselves to the other married couple they’re on vacation with, Daphne and Cameron (Theo James) because they think they’re better than them.
KS: I feel like you can also see misogyny in the way that Ethan reacts when he thinks that Harper has cheated on him and he immediately doesn’t trust her. He just keeps saying he doesn’t believe her over and over again. She’s like, “I’m telling you the truth,” but when she didn’t trust him because she found the condom, she didn’t say, “I don’t trust you.” She just kept asking him, “Is there anything you wanna tell me?” She was giving him opportunities to explain himself.
Which I guess brings us to another really big theme of the show, which was cheating. Every single plot line somehow had to do with cheating.
JS: Not Valentina!
KS: No, Valentina was just getting laid.
I really liked the repeated imagery of those little head statues, and eventually the one that shattered at the end. I thought that was really cool.
This was just in general, a very sexy season of “White Lotus.”
JS: So much sex. Especially so much sex that Albie was having. He did not need to be doing that much on screen.
KS: We did watch a lot of Albie having sex for no reason.
Jem Shin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kat Struhar can be reached at email@example.com.