The White Lotus (HBO)

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Just finished watching the first two episodes of the first season of this enigmatic limited series that can probably be described as Fantasy Island on steroids. Mike White, who played Jack Black's best friend in School of Rock is the creative force behind this series that I knew nothing about until I saw Jennifer Coolidge win two Emmys and a Golden Globe for her work on the show. In the two seasons the show has been on the air, it has won 15 Emmys and 2 Golden Globes. This slightly spooky series revolves around the guests and staff at a remote Hawaiian resort and here's what I've learned so far: The hotel is run by the mysterious Armond (Murray Bartlett), who keeps a sharp eye on his staff, especially his masseuse, Belinda and we also learn that he hired a new trainee who actually had a baby in his office on her first day in work. Among the guests we've met so far are Mark Mossbacher (Steve Zahn) who has brought his wife, Olivia (Connie Britton), and their two kids to the island. It's revealed that Mark had a scare with testicular cancer and that Olivia is the owner of some kind of online business that has made her a minor celebrity in the corporate world. We also meet Shane Patton (Jake Lacy), a trust fund baby, who has arrived with his new bride Rachel (Alexandria Daddario). Shane is obsessed with the fact that they didn't get the suite they paid for and we learn that Rachel is novice journalist who wrote an article about Olivia that really pissed her off. All I have been able to determine about Coolidge's character is that she is in need of daily massages and has come to the island to spread someone's ashes in the ocean. Not sure exactly what's going on here, but the show features lavish production values, very creepy music, and a definite air of mystery about it that has me intrigued.





Just finished watching the first two episodes of the first season of this enigmatic limited series that can probably be described as Fantasy Island on steroids. Mike White, who played Jack Black's best friend in School of Rock is the creative force behind this series that I knew nothing about until I saw Jennifer Coolidge win two Emmys and a Golden Globe for her work on the show. In the three seasons the show has been on the air, it has won 15 Emmys and 2 Golden Globes. This slightly spooky series revolves around the guests and staff at a remote Hawaiian resort and here's what I've learned so far: The hotel is run by the mysterious Armond (Murray Bartlett), who keeps a sharp eye on his staff, especially his masseuse, Belinda and we also learn that he hired a new trainee who actually had a baby in his office on her first day in work. Among the guests we've met so far are Mark Mossbacher (Steve Zahn) who has brought his wife, Olivia (Connie Britton), and their two kids to the island. It's revealed that Mark had a scare with testicular cancer and that Olivia is the owner of some kind of online business that has made her a minor celebrity in the corporate world. We also meet Shane Patton (Jake Lacy), a trust fund baby, who has arrived with his new bride Rachel (Alexandria Daddario). Shane is obsessed with the fact that they didn't get the suite they paid for and we learn that Rachel is novice journalist who wrote an article about Olivia that really pissed her off. All I have been able to determine about Coolidge's character is that she is in need of daily massages and has come to the island to spread someone's ashes in the ocean. Not sure exactly what's going on here, but the show features lavish production values, very creepy music, and a definite air of mystery about it that has me intrigued.
Terrific show. I love it.
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Iím here only on Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Thatís why Iím here now.



The work of Jennifer Coolidge and Steve Zahn dominated ep 3 as we learned that Tonya (Coolidge) has come here to spread her mother's ashes and her pathetic neediness demands that anyone who cares to join her for the event. Newlyweds Shane (Jake Lacy) and Rachel (Alexandra Daddario) find themselves prisoners to Tonya's drama, which doesn't even play out as it should, but Jennifer Coolidge delivers a deliciously unhinged performance that rivets the viewer. Steve Zahn made every moment he had onscreen count as well as Mark's entire world has been blown apart after learning what he did about his father's death. His scene at the bar with Armand (Murray Bartlett) redefined creepy and Armand is turning out to be a straight up freak with more issues than I could imagine, including a serious substance abuse problem. Mark's daughter, Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) is learning that her girlfriend is not thinking about her 24/7 and we also learned that his son, Quinn is addicted to porn, and for some reason, I found myself wondering if it was gay or straight porn. This show is slowly reeling me in.



Ep 4 provided some more loopy and surprising entertainment. Very pleased with the addition of Molly Shannon to the cast as Shane's mother, though I'm not thrilled with the character that has materialized. I've always had issues with movie characters who show up on their child's honeymoon. No good can come of that and Shane and Rachel are having enough problems without a meddling mom thrown into the mix. I'm feeling some real heartbreak somewhere down the line for Belinda because she really seems convinced that Tanya is really going to fund her business. I hope she thinks twice about getting into bed with someone who is definitely a few cards short of a full deck. Jon Gries was a charmer as a potential love interest for Tanya. It seemed kind of strange that this was the first person Tanya has met since arriving at the resort that she didn't spill her guts to the second she met him. My suspicions regarding Quinn's sexuality have been provided some validity with the way he kept staring at those well-muscled guys on the boats. The lack of trust between Olivia and Paula has become palpable. Poor Mark, I love that he can't remember his drunken conversation with Armand and has no idea that the guy is attracted him. Speaking of which, were we supposed to believe that Dillon (Lukas Gage) had no idea that Armand was attracted to him? And with what Shane found out at the end of the episode, is this the beginning of the end for Armand? They seem to be painting the character into a corner from which there is no escape.



Really enjoyed ep 5, this one actually had me talking back to the screen. Cannot believe what Paula did, giving Kai access to those necklaces. Nice way to treat the people who gave you a free trip to Hawaii. I do like that the fallout of everything that happened because of it might have smoothed some marital waters for Mark and Nicole. Am absolutely loving Steve Zahn as the clueless Mark, he reminds me of a little more somber version of Hal on Malcom in the Middle. I think I'm officially hating Nicole now that she announced that she is the one who paid for the vacation, That was totally uncalled for. Belinda needs to stop pushing Tanya. Tanya only thinks about Belinda when no one else is paying attention to her. At least this episode was the first time Tanya admitted how needy she is. Molly Shannon was brilliant in that scene with Alexandra Daddario's Rachel. I'm not exactly sure what Shane's mother was trying to say to Rachel and I don't think that was an accident. I do know it freaked Rachel out. And was it weird that what we saw at the end of ep 4 was barely mentioned here?



Really entertaining and unpredictable ep 6, loaded with stuff I didn't see coming. First of all, I don't understand why Paula was acting like the wounded party when Olivia tore her a new one for giving Kai the safe combination. She's not right often, but Olivia was right, Nicole could have been seriously hurt. Paula didn't appear to feel any guilt or remorse for what she put the people through who paid for her vacation in Hawaii. Alexandria Daddario nailed that scene when she told Shane that she made a mistake marrying him. She absolutely played it like it was the hardest thing she ever had to say, so convincing that for just a second, it looked like she wasn't going to tell him. I'm pretty sure her talk with Shane's mother motivated this, though I'm not sure that was Mom's intent. And Shane had the nerve to call her a baby, he was the one acting like a baby. God, the ego on this guy, like she should be so lucky to have nabbed him. Armand's firing was one of the few things that was not a surprise but his way of acting out because of it certainly was. Murray Bartlett was nothing short of brilliant in this episode. I knew things were escalating between Shane and Armand, but I sure didn't expect it to go where it did. And maybe I missed something, but why wasn't Shane arrested? I knew Tanya was going to flake out on Belinda, but at least she gave her a fat envelope of money. Belinda's reaction was strange, I mean at least Tanya gave her money, but she looked like she didn't care about the money, it looked like she cared about Tanya. I suspected that Greg was dying, but I was wondering whether or not he was going to tell Tanya. Jon Gries was so sweet in that scene. And I guess I misinterpreted Quinn's fascination with the canoe men, at least I think I did. I can't believe he actually left the airport and stayed there. It will be interesting to see what Mark and Nicole will do.



OK, I have to confess that I was a little shocked to learn that ep 6 was the season finale and that I watched the season two opener this morning. Apparently, none of my questions from the previous episode are going to be answered and the only holdovers from season one are Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) and Greg (Jon Gries), presumably because Coolidge won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for season one. As I commenced season two, it was revealed that the title hotel is actually part of a chain and that this season takes place in another hotel off the coast of Italy. The proprietress of this hotel is a bitchy control freak named Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore). who does a lot of her dialogue in Italian, but subtitles are provided. Among the new guests are three generations of a family named DiGrasso: Bert DiGrasso (Oscar winner F Murray Abraham) is 80 years old, still has an eye for young ladies, and a problem with uncontrollable flatulence; his son, Dominic (Emmy winner Michael Imperioli) is a Hollywood bigshot who apparently went through a very nasty divorce, documented by a phone call he had with his ex and has found himself drawn to a hooker named Lucia (Simona Tobasco) who seems to planning to take the guy for everything he's got; Dominic's son, Albie (Adam Di Rossi) is devoted to his granddad, definitely has some issues with dad and might be a target for Lucia's partner, Mia (Beatrice Granno). We've also been introduced to two couples, one of the men works for the other and I'm definitely seeing some musical beds going on here. The highlight of this story is definitely going to be Aubrey Plaza as Harper, an employment attorney, who has already been thrown by seeing her husband's boss, naked. As for Tanya and Greg, we learn that they are married now, but the marriage is in a really bizarre place and Tanya is still the wingnut she was in season 1. We also learned that Tanya's net worth is half a billion dollars. Sure would love some backstory on that. Don't think it's going to be as good as season one, but there's definitely some potential here.



OK, the second ep of season two offered us a little more insight into Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge). The way she exploded on Greg (Jon Gries) when he told her he had to return to Denver for a few days for business was cringeworthy and uncalled for. In this scene, we also learned that Tanya made Greg sign a pre-nup before they got married and that her assistant, Portia (Hayley Lu Richardson) had to sign an NDA, so there seem to be a lot more secrets to be spilled regarding Tanya and apparently a lot of them have to do with her late father. And Greg and Tanya's ride on that Vespa was really uncomfortable, I was sure Tanya was going to make Greg go off the side of a mountain. I was thinking after the last episode that Dominic (Michael Imperioli) does a lot of his thinking below the waist and in this episode he actually admitted it. I'm seeing serious trouble down the pike for him with Lucia and Mia, and a lot more than them charging him into the poor house. Dominic also appears to be keeping a lot of stuff from his dad (F Murray Abraham) and his son (Adam DiMarco). We also learned that Harper (Aubrey Plaza) and hubby Ethan (Will Sharpe) have some serious bedroom issues that are probably going to drive Harper right into the arms of Ethan's boss, Cameron (Theo James). Cameron and Daphne did earn some sympathy points back that they had lost when it was revealed that they lost a baby. And Dominic better not sleep on Valentina, she might blow up his whole little sexual escapade.



Season Two, Ep 3 was one of the most bizarre hours of television I have been subjected to in a long time. I must confess to being more and more confused by the story of the kinky foursome Cameron (Theo James), Daphne (Meghann Fahy), Ethan (Will Sharpe), and Harper (Aubrey Plaza). First of all, it was clarified during this episode that Will does not work for Cameron. Ethan and Cameron both own their own businesses, have been friends since they were teenagers and are intensively competitive with each other. I had a feeling the couples were going to split up at some point in their vacation, but I really didn't expect the men to separate from the women, I was sure Cameron was going to try and get Harper alone somehow, but he uncomfortably jumped at the chance yo be alone with Ethan. Once they got alone, it was weird how Cameron got them involved with Lucia and Mia, looking for new meal tickets since Dominic dumped them, but he spent a lot of time kissing and hugging on Ethan. As much as he seemed to be into our local hookers, he couldn't seem to keep his hands off Ethan either. Really don't know what's going on there, except that these are two very different marriages that are in very different places right now and there are definite sexual issues with Harper and Ethan. Tanya is really starting to grate on the nerves. It seems like no matter what Greg and Portia do for her, it's not good enough. The woman is incapable of being satisfied, even Valentina referred to as the crazy lady in this episode. Lucia and Mia better watch their step with that sleazy piano player. It might not be long before he has those two neck deep in sex trafficking.



Season Two, Ep 4. One thing I'm discovering about this show that I don't recall happening with a lot of other shows is that my feelings for a lot of characters seem to change from one episode to the next. For example, these two hustlers/hookers, Lucia and Mia, at the end of the last episode, I began to pity of them because the thought of the way these two have to live on the edge looking over their shoulders because they rip off everyone they come in contact with, but that went out the window this episode where they not only may have killed that piano player, but now that sweetheart Albie might be in their sights. Of course, partial blame for that has to go to Portia....cannot believe she blew off Albie for the gay nephew with the tats and the pretty eyes. And Tanya may finally be getting the constant attention she craves as the new hag for all these gay guys who are inexplicably fascinated with the woman. And what's going on with Ethan and Harper? Why did Harper keep that condom wrapper if she just wanted Ethan to confess? And even though he didn't cheat on her technically, why is Ethan not being completely truthful with Harper? Aubrey Plaza and Will Sharpe are just mesmerizing together. Cannot believe that after that phone conversation he had with his wife a few episodes ago that Dominic thinks some very expensive bling is going to smooth things over...and expects Albie to back him up too? It also looks like Valentina might be just as much of a freak as Armond was in season 1.



Season Two, Ep 5. Wow, this episode was firing on all cylinders, a full hour of entertainment that had me exhaling when it was over. The fearsome foursome of Cameron, Daphne, Ethan, and Harper were mesmerizing, thanks primarily to some spectacular work by Aubrey Plaza as Harper. Her initial confrontation with Will Sharpe's Ethan sizzled with tension as these two finally came clean with each other. I kind of understood Harper's anger, which probably could have been avoided if Ethan had completely honest with Harper from the moment she and Daphne returned. Loved the reveal of even more buried resentments from the past between Cameron and Ethan, not to mention that it looks Cameron hasn't forgotten about Harper either. The scenes with this foursome initially had Daphne looking dumb as a box of rocks, but that turned out not to be true either. As I watch this Lucia, I keep thinking of those guys on The Ed Sullivan Show who kept a dozen or more plates spinning on top of sticks. How this girl hasn't managed to tumble into some serious trouble like jail or serious injury is quite a puzzle, though it wouldn't be a shock if this character was dead before the season ends. I wish they would get her away from Albie, he's the sweetest guy in the world and doesn't deserve to be one of her victims. She would probably get more out of his clueless father, Dominick, who actually still thinks he's going to reunite with Albie's mother. I was a little taken aback by Portia's half-assed apology to Albie for blowing him off, but it looks like she might be getting what's coming to her too and as for Tanya's discovery during the final scene of the episode...OMG.



Season Two, Ep 6 definitely kept things humming here. Harper and Ethan's marriage continues to be a real enigma though I wasn't surprised by the reveal that these two have been having problems long before they arrived in Italy. The shots of Ethan swimming in the ocean seemed pointless, other than showing off Will Sharpe's flawless physique, I thought he was going to either drown himself or get eaten by a shark, but he jumped in the water and got out five minutes later, what was the point? The Di Grasso family's reunion with their alleged relatives was awkward though I have a feeling that angry Grandma knew exactly who these guys were. Lucia continues to keep more plates spinning as her past seems to be catching up to her and it looks like bilking the Di Grasso men out of more money is her only way out. Portia needs to get away from gay nephew, he's cray cray. Still trying to figure out exactly what Quentin wants from Tanya, but filling her with cocaine doesn't seem very smart to me. Another character who needs to keep a tight clutch on her wallet. Everything that happened with Valentina and Mia was smoking hot.



Big bouquet to creator Mike White and everyone else involved in the mounting of the jaw-dropping and mesmerizing season two finale that, like the first season, did not provide answers to all the questions it posed and didn't even distribute the karmic justice that it should have, but was ferocious and undeniably dark storytelling that had this reviewer talking back to the screen for the majority of the running time. The conclusion of the fearsome foursome story was a little muddier than I would have liked, but solid entertainment as provided. Loved when Ethan accused Harper of sleeping with Cameron because I still don't know if Harper was lying to him or not. That underwater fight between Ethan and Cameron was beautifully staged and shot, I actually thought Ethan was going to drown the man. Ethan's later scene with Daphne was creepy as well because it was hard to tell where Daphne's head was at too. Is Cameron so wealthy that Daphne is just willing to look the other way or does she have a side piece at home waiting on her? The conclusion of Tanya's story materialized beautifully in a plot point I really didn't see coming. Any incoherence the story might have had cleared up once Tanya finally put it together what was happening. Jennifer Coolidge was glorious in conveying Tanya's confusion and terror but I must confess to having mixed feelings about what happened to her. It might have been karmic justice for the way she treated everyone in her path up to the point of this episode and I think White and company left that up to us to form our own opinion. There were a lot of holes left open in the story of the Di Grasso family. There seemed to be more story to be told with those relatives that drove them away and I was disappointed that Dominic gave Albie that money because I knew Lucia was going to screw him over. And as for Lucia and Mia, I wanted to throw my shoe at the television screen when I realized these two were going to walk off unscathed. Appointment television and I can now see why this show racked up 15 Emmys in two season and can't wait to see what season three holds in store, though they would be hard pressed to top season two. Bravo.