Tuesday, September 21, 2021

TV Series review: The White Lotus

 The White Lotus is an American satirical comedy drama series. “The series details a week in the life of vacationers as they relax and rejuvenate in paradise. With each passing day, a darker complexity emerges in these picture-perfect travelers, the hotel's cheerful employees and the idyllic locale itself.” (Wikipedia)


When I saw the series image, I naively thought this was a charming, somewhat different take on The Best Marigold Hotel with stories of the antics of quirky guests but this time in a Hawaiian setting. I was wrong. To say this is satirical comedy misses the mark. This is deep, dark, biting satire with characters that you will absolutely hate but cannot stop watching.

The opening scene of a coffin being loaded onto a plane and a character, newly wed, saying that his wife had died, intrigued me. Aha, murder mystery? Sort of. The lives and loves and loathings of several people/families intertwine in the most horrible way. I say horrible because these characters are so realistic that often you want to jump through the TV screen and punch someone’s lights out. The wokery and hypocritical piety of the socially conscious rich are shredded and ridiculed. You cannot believe that people actually espouse this nonsense, but then you realise that they do. I don’t think anyone has any redeeming qualities, apart from one or two characters who are genuinely nice. The characters on the whole are shallow, narcissistic, self-centered and materialistic, which is sadly what many people are like.

But the series is utterly brilliant in the way it savages social hypocrisy. The actors are absolutely riveting in how they portray these awful characters. Familiar faces include Steve Zahn, Jennifer Coolidge (who is utterly hysterical and always watchable), and Connie Britton. I have to mention Aussie actor Murray Bartlett who is superb as the ‘fallen off the wagon’ hotel manager as he surrenders to his vices. He is, in a word, magnificent. Much as I loathed the characters, I found myself turning into an ambulance chaser. I could not stop watching them. I had to know whose body was in the box marked ‘Human Remains’ from episode one. You’ll never guess. I thought I knew. I was wrong.

The photography is outstanding, absolutely beautiful. The music score is fantastic with a mix of old and new, modern and classical scores. Do yourself a favour and see it. Grin and bear it because the very clever script writers get the message across, and the ending has a moving epiphany for the most unlikely character. A five-star series.

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