Review: HBO‘s ‘The White Lotus’ Is a Quirky Trip

The White Lotus
HBO's 'The White Lotus' follows wealthy resort-goers on a Hawaii vacation. (Image credit: HBO)

HBO takes a dark look at the actions and secrets of wealthy luxury resort vacationers in its new limited series The White Lotus.

The series, produced by Mike White (Enlightened), follows the exploits of rich-but-flawed vacationers traveling to an upscale hotel in Hawaii. The story takes place across one week, but the series opens at the end of the trip with a dead body being loaded onto an airplane, immediately signaling that all may have not gone well during the excursion.

Among the main travelers are honeymooners Shane (Jake Lacy) and his journalist wife Rachel (Alexandra Daddario), who are not seeing eye to eye on expectations with each other or the hotel, as well as emotional, middle-aged recluse Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge), who carries her mother’s ashes as she tries to come to terms with her death. Also, family fissures emerge from the Mossbacher clan which includes controlling CEO Nicole (Connie Britton), her sullen husband Mark (Steve Zahn), their withdrawn teenage son Quinn (Fred Hechinger), moody daughter Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) and her friend Paula (Brittany O’Grady). Trying often unsuccessfully to meet expectations and manage the many quirks of the pampered guests is hotel manager Armond (Murray Bartlett) and his overworked staff.

Also appearing in the strong ensemble cast are Natasha Rothwell, Molly Shannon and Jon Gries. 

White weaves the parallel storylines together nicely, keeping the plot interesting throughout the six episodes. Viewers, though, will have a tough time developing any sense of fondness for the mostly obnoxious characters, at least during the first few episodes. As the show evolves, viewers will determine for themselves which characters are worthy of their affection and their time in this quirky dramedy. 

The White Lotus premieres July 11 at 9 p.m. on HBO.  

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.