Review: “The White Lotus” Season Two

A Trip Worth Taking


Owen Mayer, Staff Writer

Second seasons are always tough. But for HBO’s “The White Lotus,” which brought home five Emmys in 2022 for season one, would naturally be renewed for another sharp-witted season. And of course, Writer-Director Mike White delivers on that promise, with a semi-new batch of over-privileged guests at his mercy. However, instead of spending the week in Hawaii, the series has shifted focus towards The White Lotus in Sicily, Italy.

If the first season of “The White Lotus” is about self-discovery and questioning where you belong in the world, then season two is all about sex; the kind you desire, the kind you pay for, the kind you just tolerate and the kind you use to your advantage. Throughout the week spent in Sicily, sex is heavy and thick in the air, and inescapable at all turns.

In creating a new iteration of what worked before, White – who once again wrote and directed all seven episodes this season – has another all-star cast of characters that quickly rise up to the challenges the script demands of them.

First are the two couples: Ethan (Will Sharpe), a workaholic and newly-wealthy tech entrepreneur, and his wife, Harper (Aubrey Plaza), a strait-laced employment lawyer. They’re  accompanied by Ethan’s friend and former college roommate, Cameron (Theo James), a cocky and scheming investments manager, and his stay-at-home wife, Daphne (Meghann Fahy).

Then there’s the Di Grasso family: Dominic (Michael Imperioli), a sex-addicted Hollywood producer; Albie (Adam DiMarco), Dominic’s affable, socially awkward son; and Bert (F. Murray Abraham), Dominic’s overly-flirtatious father. 

In close relation to the Di Grasso family is Lucia (Simona Tabasco), a local hustler and sex worker; and her friend Mia (Beatrice Granno), an aspiring singer who is resisting Lucia’s attempts to turn her into a sex worker.

All of these newcomers play off of each other beautifully – except for Tanya, whose return is seemingly only due to Jennifer Coolidge’s award-winning performance in the first season, rather than a narrative necessity, at least at first. Thankfully, Tanya’s Gen-Z assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson), is there to pick up the noticeable slack in Tanya’s narrative.

The beginning of Tanya’s storyline this season is the only place where White falls short. Tanya arrives at The White Lotus in Sicily for a romantic honeymoon with her now husband Greg (Jon Gries), whom she met last season in Hawaii. It is pretty clear that this marriage hasn’t been smooth sailing, as Greg just seems pretty annoyed by Tanya’s presence from the moment she arrives, until he tells her that he has to fly home to Denver for “work” at the end of episode two. Tanya meanders around for another two episodes, until she finally befriends Tom Hollander’s gay pied-piper character Dominic, where her plotline becomes some bizarre mystery-thriller.

All of the other actors coincide wonderfully, especially Granno and Tabasco, who both star in their first English-speaking role. Additionally, Plaza’s monotone demeanor, that she has become so well known for in the last decade, expertly contrasts Fahy’s always positive house-wife personality.

Overall, season two of “The White Lotus” is a worthy successor to the first, bringing more drama and stakes, while also sticking to its satirical origins.