Culture

A Round Of Applause For Tanya’s Perfect Death In ‘The White Lotus’

Jennifer Coolidge as Tanya White Lotus Season 2

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This just in: actor Jennifer Coolidge told Vulture about her bid to get director and writer Mike White to change the ending of HBO’s The White Lotus. Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief that White simply took it under advisement and did not lift a finger.

The series finale capped off Season 2 with a bang. Multiple bangs, actually, if you consider Tanya’s haphazard shoot-out with the mysterious entourage of gay men who had been escorting her around Sicily, in lieu of her husband Greg. Greg, it turned out, was working with the group to murder Tanya, enacting his master plan to sidestep the divorce clause in their prenup that would leave him with nothing. Lovely guy. 

After undertaking the difficult task of shooting her way out of a luxury yacht filled with men trying to kill her, Tanya — bless her soul — attempts to board the dinghy to make her way to shore. Except instead of descending the yacht using the ladder designed for this very purpose, she decides to jump. With heels on. 

The contrast between Coolidge’s iconic, breathy “You’ve got this,” and the metallic clang as she hit the railing had me in stitches. It was a fittingly “derpy death” (Mike White’s words) for this fan favourite — which is exactly why it had to happen. 

Throughout the show, fans tried to guess who would meet their maker in the Ionian Sea (notably not part of the hotel property). And while White insists the show isn’t about who is killed, I’m a simple woman: give me a murder mystery and I will speculate. Wildly. 

Consult Twitter and you’ll see there’s no doubt that Tanya was a fan favourite. She was favoured to make it out of Season 2 alive, just like she did in Season 1, but even significant fan sway couldn’t save her.  

Good. We’ve seen what happens when shows cater too much to their audience. Game of Thrones writers Dan Weiss and David Benioff angered even the most die-hard fans by walking this tightrope: packing their final episodes with nods to fan theories, while also doing their damndest to “subvert expectations”. 

White, on the other hand, had it all figured out. Per Coolidge, he revealed news of Tanya’s demise to the actor on the phone, telling her “I guess I have to tell you this so you can prepare. You die, Jennifer. You’re gonna die in White Lotus two”. Coolidge pleaded Tanya’s case, but White was having none of it. “And I said, ‘Oh no! You’ve gotta be kidding me! Really?’ I tried to talk him out of it, but Mike is very strong. He said I was going to have a tragic ending, and he stuck to his guns,” Coolidge recalls to Vulture.

And thank god he did. Tanya’s frantic GoldenEye 007 moment, followed by her unceremonious bonk on the head, was as tragic as it gets. It was a spectacular rise and fall for Tanya — and it was perfect.