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White Lotus: Characters and Their Vices

Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015 she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod,, after which she created a course called "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" based on it. Over 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by education, she quickly masters new areas. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in movies/serials, and writes about it in her project's blog.
The anthology series "White Lotus" definitely hit the heart of many fans of quality movies. According to the plot, the action unfolds in the hotel chain "White Lotus", and if in the first season - in American Hawaii, then in the second - in Italian Taormina.

Since the format of the series is an anthology, you can watch it from any season, because each time the plot will be new and the characters - also new. That's how the second season "shot", which has a lot more metaphors, references and dynamics than the first. We will talk about it in this article.
This is the story of how completely different characters came to the resort, and what came out of it.
There are different lines running in parallel here, which at some point intertwine and change their direction: there are two former school friends with wives who are completely different, and a family of "grandson-father-dad" who have arrived to find their roots, and a millionaire in her age, who has recently stopped being an old maid, with her assistant.
And also a mass of locals - hotel workers, Taormina residents, and young prostitutes looking for fortune.

And since there are many characters, all of them are very vivid - here we find a lot of interesting tropes and metaphors, which I would like to break down. But first, a few words about the series as a whole.
The point of the show
First of all, "White Lotus" is a series about rich white people, all of whom have their vices. Thus, the trope of Eat the rich, named after Jean Jacques Rousseau's statement during the French Revolution, is very actively implemented here. We see this trope in a huge number of contemporary movies and TV series: Menu, Get the Knives, You (season 4), The Triangle of Sadness.
And at the end - spoiler alert - the rich characters are left with an unpleasant aftertaste of everything that has happened, and now they have to live with it somehow, and only two simple prostitutes are hopping away along the Italian streets and enjoying life.

But the series is very multifaceted. It's not just about poverty and wealth - it's all about contrasts and oppositions. The contrasts are young versus old, fidelity versus infidelity, taking advantage of sex versus sexual weakness.

We can even divide our heroes on the principle of who is allowed in the hotel and who is not!

And it is not for nothing that cultural Italy was chosen as the setting - firstly, the paintings and sculptures create a certain aristocratic vibe.

Secondly, connecting with cultural studies, we see that all those vices that our contemporaries face, in fact, took place millennia before.
Even the credits of the second season hint at this - there the names of the actors are written near those mythological images that predict the fate of their characters.

And in general, there are a lot of references to mythology, such as "Hades took him to the dark kingdom" and so on.
We're living in the best time in history.
So let's go get drunk.
We see a great deal of symbolism throughout each of the seven episodes. And how Tanya, whose line is the only one carried over from the first season, is compared to the heroine of Puccini's opera, as if foreshadowing her finale.

And how metaphorical masks are placed throughout the hotel, indicating relationship problems, and how one of them eventually breaks at just the right moment.
The season begins with a circular composition, so beloved by the writers of modern TV series ("And Fires Smolder Everywhere," "Big Little Lies," "The Elite").

From the first minutes we learn that someone has been killed, but who killed, how and who - we do not know. And then we are transported to a week ago and take turns getting to know all the characters who arrived at the five-star White Lotus Hotel.
Daphne, Cameron, Harper and Ethan
The four of Daphne, Cameron, Harper, and Ethan are an ensemble of four temperaments, where Cameron is choleric, Daphne is sanguine, Ethan is phlegmatic, and Harper is melancholic. This is a very popular technique by which many characters in the series can be laid out, especially when we have a couple + a couple (in Alien, for example).
Daphne and Cameron - Seekeningly Sweethearts, this is the kind of couple that is constantly hugging and kissing in public, making everyone feel uncomfortable.

Cameron - Fratbro College is a man no longer in his teens who still likes to drink, party, and have promiscuous affairs. Also a toxic friend.

Daphne - At first glance, a typical "Dumb Blonde" as in canonical American movies like Blondes in Law.

This is especially how she is shown to us in contrast to the orderly and intelligent Harper. But by the end of the series we realize that Daphne, like Lucia, actually has a lot more power than everyone else thinks. After all, "Some people think they have power. And someone actually has it."
Ethan is a Tech Bro, a tech-savvy guy who has recently become rich and is crazy about his job.

Harper is a typical feminist, heavy-handed, dark-colored girl. She and Daphne have a Light/Dark Femininity juxtaposition, so they're kind of Betty and Veronica.

But Ethan and Harper have a strong physical disconnect. But as the series progresses, our couples gradually change places, and what was more characteristic of Daphne and Cameron suddenly becomes the traits of Ethan and Harper. This is especially evident in their behavior at the airport.
I'm not going to touch on the subject of Daphne's children and the coach, nor am I going to speculate on whether Harper and Cameron or Daphne and Ethan were connected in the end. It's kind of clear as it is, and the attentive viewer can draw his own conclusions by the end of the show. My aim, however, is to highlight what is not so strikingly obvious.
A strong interest and equally strong antipathy is aroused by Portia, Tanya's assistant.

First of all, because she is the only "normal" person from the arrivals.

Secondly, because of her incredibly strange and pretentious style of dress - the creators of the series specifically picked up such brainiac costumes to emphasize the girl's lifestyle - she constantly sits on Instagram and orders everything in a row, substituting trends for her real style and her real life.
Thirdly, everything is always wrong with her: the phone irritates her, and the guy next to her is too nice, and her boss is nasty. But, as they say, "be afraid of your desires.

As a result, she behaves in the most contradictory way possible - she expects adventure from the right guy and orderliness and good decisions from the bad guy. As a result, Portia seems much more similar to Tanya than they both admit- both are very pessimistic, dissatisfied with life, and disharmonious.
Di Grasos
As for the Di Grasso trio - here we see not only the Generation gap in the perception of women, when they talk about the godfather or adultery, but also the Generation Xerox, when they simultaneously look at the same girl or all together "fall for" the same prostitute.
Not only does their line have the common rule of 3, but it also has that rare Anticlimax - when the family arrives at their hypothetical relatives, it is not the high point and climax of their plot as we expect, but exactly the opposite.

Most of the attention in this trio by plot is given to Alby, the typical "good guy," who is actually not as good as we first thought, as he begins to blackmail his father for money for Lucia. Albeit in a mild form, but it's still a realization of the "Wolf in Sheep's Skin" trope.

And, of course, one of the main characters, to which the eyes of all hotel guests are fixed - a young and daring Lucia.
She is the "Big Bad" here, who twists almost all the plot lines, heats up all the relationships and, using her individual approach and her knowledge of human nature, comes out the winner. Being originally an expensive prostitute, she also manages to develop quite nicely as the plot progresses: if at first she only looks at dresses in a boutique, in the middle she can already afford one, and at the end she removes herself with the 50,000 she received from Alby.

And so it seems: maybe she should have taken advantage of the situation and gone to Los Angeles with a boy so young and good, who has a fabulously rich dad, and who can invest even more in you, your education, to get out of it all at the end? But no, Lucia is high on being exactly where she is, doing exactly what she's doing, pretending to be Damsel in Distress and deluding herself that "I just wish I could open my own store."
And, oddly enough, it is Lucia and Mia who exemplify good female friendship, because in all the other "female couples" like Daphne and Harper, Tanya and Portia, mistrust flourishes.
Everything seems clear with the other characters: the frivolous and enthusiastic Mia, who along the way learns to find the right people and with their help achieve what she wants, the "iron lady" Valentina, who "defrosts" along with the plot, though, and originally was not so brutal, judging by her love for animals.
The series itself is a celebration, a festival, whose current carries us to the mouth of the volcano and - boom! - explodes at the very end. But we are constantly haunted by the image of water, deep and turbulent, which hints that not everything that happens is not completely under our control, that there is something beyond our control...