The Most Insufferable ‘White Lotus’ Characters, Ranked
Why are they like this.
It’s safe to say that we are very much getting into the weeds in the second season of The White Lotus, the show about privileged white people that attempts to say something about society.
In Season 2, creator Mike White swaps Hawaii for Italy and some wealthy vacationing Americans for some other wealthy vacationing Americans. White pulls back on his attempts at cultural commentary that attracted criticism in Season 1 — after all, White gave his few non-white characters minimal screen time, and in the end Season 1 was a better commentary on the limits of white self-critique than anything else.
Understandably, then, Season 2 pivots to a focus on relationships and sex. But perhaps most striking about the HBO series’ second season is how deeply insufferable almost all of its characters insist on being.
Whether it’s Portia’s insistence on complaining about a job that lands her in a beautiful Sicilian hotel with a surplus of free time; or Harper looking down on Daphne for not watching the news; these people truly are the worst.
To acknowledge this, here’s an extremely objective list of the ten most insufferable characters from The White Lotus Season 2 so far. Please note that this ranking is only based on the series’ first four episodes, so I can’t be held responsible for whatever these folks get up to after that.
— Abundant spoilers for Season 2 Of ‘The White Lotus’ lie ahead —
Hotel manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore) has some big shoes to fill after Murray Barlett’s performance as her Season 1 counterpart, Armond — but so far she’s a series highlight. From giving Michael Imperioli the third degree about hiring escorts, to feeding a couple of tiny little kittens on her lunch break, to her face lighting up when she chats to a younger colleague; we’re seeing obvious echoes of Armond, here — and I’m not mad about it.
#9. Lucia And Mia
It’s unclear what The White Lotus is trying to say about sex work. But in any case, the characters of Lucia (Simona Tabasco) and Mia (Beatrice Granno) are a formidable duo; with the two at their best when the two of them are enjoying the hotel’s amenities and navigating the world of sex work in a still very catholic country. These are two characters I actually hope survive the series, and that’s more than I can say for almost every other character in this show.
It’s hard to know what to make of this man, especially as the season is not yet through. Is the Stanford graduate genuinely a good guy, or is he a ‘Nice Guy’ — spinning off lines about The Godfather being an artefact of patriarchy to impress Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) before she inevitably rejects him and loses his damn mind? Only time will tell. But so far, he seems fine. (Apart from the “wounded bird” line, that is.)
Harper, a name that seems to feature in almost every American TV show or movie, is a slightly sanctimonious Aubrey Plaza character who likes to say that she’s not sure about having children because of “everything that’s going on” and looks down her nose at people who don’t watch the news. But as she’s saying all of this while sipping an Aperol Spritz in a five-star hotel in Italy, it feels a bit as though her self-righteousness is kind of… superficial?
Perhaps things will change, but at this point it’s hard not to be very bored by this man. Played by the British actor, Will Sharpe, Ethan swiftly pivots from “I don’t lie to my wife” to lying to his wife several times. Also, not wanting to have sex with his lawfully wedded wife Aubrey Plaza? With respect to this man: what?
I have no real thoughts about this character except that she’s not fleshed out enough for me to care about her, even if White did his best to sprinkle her with some ‘agency’. Also, kidnapping Harper in Noto, even if it was quite a luxe kidnapping? Beyond the pale.
While fans of The Sopranos are probably excited to see Michael Imperioli do whatever it is he’s doing in this show, I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed a single moment of his presence on screen. Sorry, but who hires sex workers while on holiday with their father and son? Ick.
#3. Tanya McQuoid
It pains me to say this but the inimitable Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge), the one heavy hitter White carried over from Season 1, becomes a bit difficult to watch this time ’round. Her new husband’s apathy seems to have wholly activated her attachment disorder, and I found myself longing for the Tanya of Season 1 who spun off lines like, “when I saw my mother’s ashes hit the water, it just reminded me of sprinkling fish food in an aquarium.” Oh, Tanya.
Mike White seems to be endlessly fascinated by grotesquely privileged 30-something white men, so in place of last season’s Shane (Jake Lacy), we get this guy — a manspreading ex-frat boy boasting more boat shoes and infidelity than you can shake a stick at. It’s unclear what White is trying to say here beyond ‘privilege is bad’, but so far Cameron is even more unpleasant to watch than Lacy, whose character at least offered us some complexity and shades of grey.
Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) is one of the show’s youngest characters and unfortunately its most annoying. While her profound ennui (“is everything boring?”) is likely where a lot of other people in their early 20s are in their lives, her insistence on resenting her boss — who has literally put her up in a five-star hotel in goddamn Sicily and occasionally needs her as emotional support — is infuriating. And while it’s fair that she didn’t vibe with Albie — making out with Jack (Leo Woodall) right in front of him? Poor form!
Congratulations Portia, you’re the most insufferable character of White Lotus Season 2! Your bouquet will arrive in the post.
Reena Gupta is Junkee’s Deputy Editor. You can follow her on Twitter here.