(This article contains spoilers.)
Mike White’s The White Lotus Season 2 is a biting social satire on the rich. And like all good satires, it leaves no stone unturned to create cutting humour out of the self-indulgent characters who are delusional at best. But it’s precisely their haphazard quest to exert some control and find happiness that makes the show such a treat to watch – despite the class difference.
And no, the show isn’t hilarious in the true sense of the term. It will make you scoff, snicker and leave you stunned, but it isn’t the kind of slapstick that will get you rolling on the floor laughing. The humour resides in the self-defensiveness of the rich and their quirks – it’s understated and oh-so-fun to watch.
Here are five scenes from the show that highlight the comedic brilliance of White’s directorial master-stroke:
Harper's Cutting Remark
Cameron (Theo James) is probably the epitome of macho-masculinity. His frat-boy attitude is disconcerting at best, and yet White develops his character with affection. He is undoubtedly a caricature, and with good reason, it makes for great laughs at the expense of his buffoonery. But throughout the season his antics go unchecked. In the last episode, however, Harper’s (Aubrey Plaza) cutting remark, “You’re an idiot” is satisfying to watch, to say the least. She need not say more. And it’s the right end to all the macho-privileged-white-boy nonsense we heard throughout the episodes.
The Jet-Ski Scene
In one scene, Daphne (Meghann Fahy) talks about the inherent competitiveness of men and the scene cuts to Cameron and Ethan (Will Sharpe) jet-skiing. And this time round, it’s not the dialogues of the show that gets to us, it’s the caricaturish brilliance. Both men are highly competitive, and their bullish expressions make for one of the most hilarious scenes. And the background song, “Il Nostro Concerto” by Umberto Bindi is aptly fitting, juxtaposing the picturesque ocean with two foolhardy men who find joy in pulling each other down. Is there anything funnier than that?
'Now we are just reminders of an offensive past'
If Cameron is an abhorrent finance bro, who defends an associate for throwing yoghurt at his assistant’s face, then Albie is the modern-day condescending woke boy. In one particular scene, he is articulating his tedious rants about the patriarchy. And his grandfather quips that the “old” are just “reminders of an offensive past.”
The statement is so earnest and unquestionably true that you can’t help but laugh at the sheer starkness of how the young see the older generation these days – completely oblivious to their shortcomings.
Tanya’s Day Out
In Tanya’s (Jennifer Coolidge) quest for a happily-ever-after, she creates an itinerary where she can pretend to be Monica Vitti, a famous, albeit dead, Italian actor. It’s a ridiculous scene where her husband Greg takes her on a Vespa ride, as a bug goes inside her mouth and she coughs her way to glory, much to his discomfort. It’s a hysterical scene contrasting her ludicrous nature with the scenic Sicilian valley.
Portia’s a Mess
In one of Portia’s (Haley Lu Richardson) many pleas to Tanya to let her have a good time, while simultaneously doom-scrolling and complaining about modern technology, she once again dares to share a bit about herself with her employer. She is wholeheartedly ignored and Tanya goes on to complain about her life.
There is a silence in-between as Portia awaits Tanya’s response. The silence is more telling than the conversation – it’s one of the many highlights of how people, funnily enough, never listen but are waiting to talk. It’s an astute observation by White, highlighting the sheer incapacity of the characters to step out of one’s manufactured suffering. It’s the kind of dark comedy the series is known for.