Is The White Lotus 2 too Italian?

If there was a ranking of the most beautiful TV series theme songs ever, that of The White Lotus it would be at least in the top thirty. The animated wallpaper on the theme of pineapples, waves, canoes and palm trees from the Hawaiian resort where the first season took place went perfectly with “Aloha!”, the irresistible, somewhat sinister tune by composer Cristobal Tapia de Veer. In the second season (in Italy it’s a Sky and NOW exclusive, and now it’s aired every Monday on Sky Atlantic), set in Taormina, the same song loses its Hawaiian connotations and is Italianized with harps and piano, but it becomes even meaner as it develops: initially the frescoes that replaced the wallpaper show pleasant scenarios of aristocrats engaged in their pastimes, but as soon as the beat enters they become increasingly sexual and violent (here it is here: hidden details have been added to the images of Villa Tasca in Palermo). Surely, in the minds of the creators, the beauty of this acronym is intended to comfort the poor viewer of the first season: brutally deprived of the characters he was most fond of – the magnetic Murray Bartlett, manager of the resort, caught in the midst of a relapse after 5 years of sobriety that takes the form of alcohol, coke and gay parties with improvised waiters in her office, the unbearable know-it-all woke played by Sidney Sweeney, Alexandra Daddario with her phosphorescent eyes in the part of the failed journalist and frustrated wife – finds herself facing the second chapter without too much enthusiasm, trusting in the presence of the only characters she knows she’ll find: the very rich and bushy psychopharmacized makeover Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge) and her type, a skinny guy accosted in the Hawaiian resort. He took it to Italy, where he prepares to experience a dream vacation overflowing with “wine” (he says it in Italian) and sunsets.

«Who am I?», Tanya in total pink asks the manager of the new resort (Sabrina Impacciatore), asking her to take a picture of her. “You look like Peppa Pig,” she replies as she photographs her with her cellphone. “I’m Monica Vitti,” replies Tanya. The veteran of the first season grits his teeth: but how, this is the kind of jokes that will replace the sophisticated, very verbose, very nervous humor of the first season? The Italian viewer grits his teeth doubly: during the first episode, each scene is interspersed with suggestive views filmed with drones accompanied by Italian songs that have nothing to do with shit (“Once upon a time there was a cat” by Gino Paoli, for example ) shoot at full volume. The characters keep repeating “aperitif”, “Vespa”, “Venezia” and tell themselves that they are in Italy and that Italy is beautiful and that everything is so Italian! In Season 1, it was pretty much the same with Hawaii. Is Mike White trying to reveal to us that the only way the rich can enjoy the places of the world is through generalizations and stereotypes? Who knows, in the meantime let’s enjoy the impeccable photography, the too often gray or whitish sky (touch of class taken from the first season) and the bilious dialogues: another story of unhappy rich people and spectacular panoramas to add to the collection that includes Big Little Lies, Succession (two other acronyms to be included in that ranking) e Triangle of Sadness.

In the first episode (title: “Ciao”) the presence of F. Murray Abraham stands out (whom I will always call Salieri, for his role in Amadeus by Miloš Forman) in the role of a grandfather who for now seems only a bit pedantic. He’s on holiday with his nephew and his son, someone who argues on the phone with his wife (he is never seen, but his voice is Laura Dern’s) and hires two baby prostitutes. We know that the White lotus excels at portraying dysfunctional relationships. In the first episode she outlines the friction between the couple formed by Aubrey Plaza and Will Sharpe, ethically correct, devoured by the sense of guilt of being rich, erotically misaligned (the scene of him masturbating to a porn video after the morning jog instead of going sex with her, who obviously discovers it) and the one made up of Theo James and Meghann Fahy, as superficial and ignorant as they are sexually close and in love. It is not difficult to guess, already in the first episode, which element of a couple will try to fuck with which element of the other. We already understood it by observing the husband of the failed journalist from the first season, but the character of Cameron/Theo James confirms another of the things that the White lotus manages to do better: the description of toxic masculinity in all its micro and macro-manifestations. Sore point, so far, the two young prostitutes: they seem to come from Baby. At one point one of the two, Mia (Beatrice Grannò, the other is Simona Tabasco) wears a little silver dress evidently by Shein (but didn’t they just go shopping wild in the luxury store?) and starts playing and singing with surprising talented Ray Henderson’s song “The Best Things In Life Are Free”, another very subtle hint about the moral message of the series. Let’s not be put off by the good intentions and the ubiquitous Panna water bottles: as expert observers of the first season, we know (and hope) that everything will go terribly wrong, and the perversion and nastiness will gradually mount, scene after scene, until it explodes in the car -final destruction.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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