White Lotus Character Walkthrough Discussion

White Lotus Character Walkthrough Discussion. Occasionally, you guys blow up my email inbox with regard to a particular show or movie. It sort of feels like an avalanche rolling down the mountain and I generally never see it coming. It’s quite the feeling to be side-swiped by a hundred mile an hour avalanche you didn’t see coming. And it never comes along politely. It never starts with a swell. Or a gentle slope of casual suggestions. It seems to all just hammer out of the sky in one enormous blistering rage of “HOLY CRAP WATCH THIS!!!” And that is exactly what happened here. And last night, I watched one (1) episode. And last night, I marveled at the complexity and the lack of stereotyped haranguing that was occurring, all the while, stereotyped haranguing was occurring. If you know what I mean. Let me be clear… that was not clear. White Lotus is a master class at blistering everyone in society, the haves, and the have-nots, all while making it clear, that no matter who you are, you have a lot to learn about being a decent human being. Oh, and by the way, we might as well laugh at ourselves all along the way.

If you haven’t heard of White Lotus, it is a limited series from HBO, set in Hawaii, by the creators of the movie Beatriz at Dinner – Mike White – who also created Nacho Libre, (how can you possibly go wrong with this guy?) and it talks all about the rich, the not so rich, and the poor among us. And it centers on those inflection points where these different people collide, and the sparks that come as a result. So, what I plan to do is, instead of doing a walk through of the story episode by episode, I’ll rather talk to the characters, their baseline state – and their end state, and some of the chaos that moved their needle along the way.

Alright, let’s do this – again, a little different play here from the THiNC. norm. Mainly going to be talking about some of the key characters, and the inflection points across the series. Alright? It goes without saying that the moment we talk about character #1 we will be deeply into spoiler territory. Don’t continue reading unless you have watched the series – which you can do right here.


Resort Guests –

  • Shane Patton (Newly Wed) – Jake Lacy
  • Rachel Patton (Newly Wed)– Alexandra Daddario
  • Tanya McQuoid (General Car Crash) – Jennifer Coolidge
  • Nicole Mossbacher (Poof CEO?) – Connie Britton
  • Mark Mossbacher (Husband) – Steve Zahn
  • Quinn Mossbacher (Son) – Fred Hechinger
  • Olivia Mossbacher (Nietzsche Reading Daughter) – Sydney Sweeney
  • Paula (Freud Reading Friend) – Brittany O’Grady

Resort Staff –

  • Armond (Resort Manager) – Murray Bartlett
  • Belinda Lindsey (Health Spa Manager) – Natasha Rothwell
  • Lani (Pregnant Newbie) – Jolene Purdy

Characters Ordered by Enormity of Their Growth/Change – if you disagree, shout out in the comments. Possibly the most controversial thing I’ll ever do on this blog, by a factorial. And I once (fairly arbitrarily) said there were seven layers to the movie Inception.

White Lotus Character Walkthrough Discussion

White Lotus Character Walkthrough Discussion

Armond – -4/10 change – Armond went from being alive, to being not alive. That is change, but not the good kind of change. Even his death not withstanding, he held to his convictions throughout the entirety of the show. He treated his staff poorly, he treated his guests poorly. And worse, he went from being sober for the past five years, to crashing hard off that particular wagon. Drugs, alcohol, sex with staff members… Armond was changing, but not the good kind of changing. And it was his feud with Shane, and his refusal to give him the honeymoon suite, at all costs. And it was this refusal that ultimately cost him his life.

Favorite Armond quote: “We want to disappear behind our masks – it’s tropical kabuki.” hahahah.

Shane Patton – 0/10 change – Let’s be clear, Shane, grew not one iota over the course of the White Lotus series… and he killed someone. Shane was your stereotypical, nepotistically motivated, 100% estate-funded, closed-minded, spoon-fed, momma’s boy. Upon arrival at the White Lotus he became obsessed with his not receiving the correct room amenities. The newlywed refuses to listen to his trophy wife (we’ll get to this later) who, wisely, lets him know that he is the one that is letting it ruin their honeymoon. And, as we watch, it is this one detail… the lack of the “plunge pool” that drives Shane for the duration of the show. Literally, by definition, he changes not one lick, regardless of everything in the story begging him to. “SHANE LET THE PLUNGE POOL GO.” But we can all relate to this obsession if we are being honest. We love our [insert favorite unknown travel secret finder website] finds, and we want our “cheap” amenities, and we want them now.

All Shane wants throughout his honeymoon is the ability to flirt with the other women at the resort without being challenged. He wants unrestrictive sex with his now legally bound wife. And he wants his damn plunge pool, thank you very much. And at the end of the show, as he just watched Armond, the person he had just murdered, get loaded onto a plane, all he wants to know is if his troublesome wife is going to grow up and get with the program. Hrm. I wonder if she will. We’ll have to wait til we get to Rachel.

Favorite Shane quote: “I’m not going to let him ruin our honeymoon…” Rachel, “He’s not, you are.”

White Lotus Character Walkthrough Discussion

Olivia Mossbacher – 2/10 – Olivia is the hardcore, entitled, sardonic, truly critical, liberal counterpart to Shane’s conservative stereotype. She believes that Hilary Clinton was a Neo-Con. She sees pretty much everyone as a liberal sellout, including her mother, who is the physical embodiment of everything liberal women everywhere should theoretically be all about – IE. strong corporate leadership, and respect for women everywhere. She sits by the pool with her friend Paula, reading Nietzsche and Freud, and remains aloof from the world, hoping to not be tainted by the hoi polloi.

She discovers that Paula has been meeting up with someone, and begins flirting with him in an attempt to take the guy from Paula. She has her white tribe, and sees everything from that lens. But she spends every waking moment making certain everything is hers, and that Paula has nothing of her own. When Olivia figures out what Paula has done, she calls her on it, but when push comes to shove, she doesn’t turn Paula in, and seems to genuinely forgive her for her actions. Is that change? Or a softening of some sort? Maybe?

Favorite Olivia Quote: Nicole, “It was a secret that was kept from him his entire life, Liv. Whatever image your father had as a child was probably just pulverized.” Olivia, “He was probably a bottom, that’s how you mostly get it, receiving. Dad, do you feel like your dad was less of a man or something?”

Tonya – 2/10 – Let’s just say the quiet thing out loud. Tonya is quite possibly insane. She’s here in Hawaii to spread her mother’s ashes… but the hot mess that is Tonya is so identifiable as a highly enabled rich person who is used to wielding her money like a scythe through the less fortunate in society. Tonya, sans a man in her life, really connects directly with Belinda. And even though it wasn’t Belinda’s job, she takes Tonya on in an effort to help her. And Tonya takes that kindness and monetizes it. A fairly sick tendency that many well-to-do individuals have trouble not doing. But when she meets a man (who could die at literally any second) she discards Belinda under the pretense that she always screws up by monetizing relationships, and she should do that! hahaha. I mean, practically speaking, Tonya, out of kindness for being stupid, should have given Belinda the money she needed for her business. Her jerking her around was way worse than anything a business could have done to her. Anyone that thinks Tonya changed really any at all isn’t paying attention.

Favorite Tonya Quote: Pretty much the entire boat scene where she was attempting to mourn, loudly, and spread her mother’s ashes, while Shane and Rachel were trying to have a romantic get away.

White Lotus Character Walkthrough Discussion

Nicole Mossbacher3/10 – Mrs. Mossbacher is the CEO of an up and coming search engine company and is 100% about kicking ass and taking names. Whether with her family, her husband, or her company… she micromanages things to completion. She is present, and yet, simultaneously absent (come on, stop with the meddling!) with her family. Quinn is totally and completely checked out, preferring to spend his vacation online as opposed to spending it on the ocean, or with the family. Olivia has become a caustic, and hateful, version of her own mother. Yet, Nicole isn’t engaging with either of her kids to figure out what the heck is going on. Wait, did she actually do any changing? Um. Maybe? She rebelled against her husband’s changes, but at the end of the show, the two of them have buried the hatchet and have reconnected. I guess that is something of a change, no? At least three points worth? But it wouldn’t be hard to knock her back to a zero in my book. Argue away in the comments!

Favorite Nicole Quote: “Most people appreciate others that accomplish things – but you make it seem like it’s a disorder.”

Paula – 5/10 – Paula is invited along on a boondoggle of a Hawaii trip with her friend Olivia… so she obviously agrees and figures, if nothing else, she’ll get some free pool time, and some Freud reading opportunity in the sun. But when she meets Kai, a Hawaiian who works at the resort, everything begins to change for Paula. She learns about how the resort stole the land from Kai’s people, and that as a result his people were suffering at the hands of these enormous international conglomerates with no hope of changing things.

Paula is moved by the insensitivity of the situation – and of Kai’s being forced to work for the company that stole from his family. So she comes up with the plan to help Kai break into the Mossbacher’s room, and steal the valuable jewelry that’s been kept there in the safe. But Mark saves the day, and saves his wife from the violent perpetrator, and Paula dodges all responsibility for Kai’s breaking in. But Olivia guesses what happened, that Paula forced the Mossbacher’s to give her the vault password, which she then gave to Kai. But Olivia says nothing, doesn’t rat her friend out, but Paula is broken by how she has hurt Kai and his future. There is an argument to be made here that Paula learned nothing in that she didn’t put her neck out for Kai, she quietly ducked and covered her own ass.

Favorite Paula Quote: Shane, “So, yesterday you were reading Freud and Nietzsche – and today you are reading what?” (They were reading Camille Paglia ‘Sexual Personae,’ and Frantz Fanon’s, ‘The Wretched of the Earth,’ if you were curious.) Paula, “We have a stylist pick our clothes and then a book stylist pick out our books.”

Belinda – 7/10 – Belinda has been at this routine for a long time, but this particular lot of visitors to the resort definitely does something deep within her. She allowed herself to open up to Tonya, to try and actually help another human being, a person who was grieving. But when Tonya monetizes their friendship, and convinces Belinda that she should start her own business, Belinda allows her hopes to get violently dashed in a million pieces. We can see it on her face as she is the last of the previous staff to welcome the new arrivals. Something deep within her broke violently and painfully. But she learned. Oh, did she learn… she learned not to trust anything these guests say to you.

Favorite Belinda quote: “Every moment, I’m being born into this life, I will drop the story, and feel the newness of each moment. I am my own phallic mother, I’m my own vaginal father. I fill my own cup. My failing body is immaterial. The child in me is alive and fresh as the day I was born. I will connect with that child at all times, and feed and nurture her.” Chanting in Sanskrit…. Tanya echoes the Sanskrit chanting! Hahah “You don’t have to do this part…”

White Lotus Character Walkthrough Discussion

Mark Mossbacher – 7/10 Mark is a complicated fellow in that we don’t have a really good baseline for the guy. He starts the show assuming he has testicular cancer, and literally the only thing he can think about is that. Is he going to die? But we do know from a couple of different quotes from the show that he and Nicole have hit the doldrums of their marriage. They are overwhelmed as parents and as employees. Mark has sort of given up trying in his marriage.

But, in his worry about his possible cancer diagnosis, he has a conversation with an uncle about his father. Now, Mark is a pretty stereotypical conservative, affluent, person in that he looked up to his father… especially since he died early. Mark sees his father as the hero he wishes that he could be. But when his uncle tells him that his father didn’t die of cancer, but rather of AIDS. “How did he get AIDS?” he naively asks his uncle… because gay sex literally cannot be the reason. “Well, because he had sex with guys Mark.” comes the response. And it is this dawning that forces Mark to try to live authentically, to be different than his own father was. It is this realization that ultimately drives him closer to his wife.

Favorite Mark quote: “Being a man now can’t be easy.” Quinn, “Why, because we can’t harass girls anymore?” Mark, “No, well yeah. The modern world is just so emasculating.” Quinn, “You mean like we’re cuck’d.” Mark, “Yeah, you know, every kid wants to be the hero of their story, and in the end, you’re just happy you’re not the villain.” Quinn, “Is this about mom making more money than you?” Mark, “Nooo it’s not about that!”

Rachel 8/10 – GACk. Rachel is literally the most complicated character in the entire show. Hands down. Without a doubt. She recently married Shane, after only knowing him for just a few months. She signed a prenuptial agreement before agreeing to marry him. And is watching as her career, her life, her entire orbit, is being subsumed by Shane’s. Should she quit her job? Should she ask Shane to pay off her loans? Should she have even agreed to marry him? It is a complicated question. And when Rachel chats with Nichole, she gives her the advice to not let go, to be her own woman, and to not give in.

Interestingly, we watch as she agrees with Nichole… at least initially. She tells Shane that she made a mistake. She gets another room in the hotel. And eventually she does her own thing while Shane is busy murdering the manager of the hotel. But at the end of the day, she joins Shane back at the airport, and she tells him that things will be okay. That she will be happy. Wait, what? She is basically saying that having money equals having options. That instead of being saddled with student loans, and debt, she decides to stay married, and to play along. To become the trophy wife that Shane and his mother are expecting her to be. And while she makes the wrong choice, she definitely learned a lot in this journey. I would even argue that she even learned more than Quinn. But Quinn is a whole different bundle o’ chaos.

Favorite Rachel Quote: “When I’m with you Shane, I’m weirdly alone.”

Quinn 10/10 – Quinn is the simplest of these ten characters to dismantle. When he first arrived in Hawaii, all he could think about was his social media, his video games, and his devices. But after spending time watching his family melt down, and eventually opens his eyes to the world around him… the whales, that beach, the people… he realizes his life in America is being wasted. And as the show ends, Quinn runs from the plane boarding, and joins his Hawaiian friends as they head out to canoe half way around the world. He’s made the decision that he is done living a fake life anymore.

Favorite Quinn quote: “I don’t want to go home. Everything is dead at home, and I want to live.”

White Lotus Thoughts

I think I screwed up a little bit in how I decided to talk about the characters and their changes throughout the course of the show. Let’s be honest, hardly anything changes over the course of this big week for these characters. Sure, Quinn bails on going home. But practically speaking, the Mossbacher’s are all self-entitled assumptive asses. Tonya has moved on to another beau that she isn’t happy without. He’ll die soon, and she’ll be on to the next resort, hoping for another Belinda she can leach off of until she finds another guy. Rachel has walked straight back into the arms of her nigh on abusive husband. NOTHING IS CHANGING. And that is the point of the show. We are all entitled children, and the odds that someone is going to change our mind on anything? Slim, to, none.

I’ve told this story before, but it is really appropriate wrt this White Lotus story. My wife and I secreted down to Cancun and found ourselves sitting by the pool where we were armed with our very own pool guy to just stand around and wait for us to need something. It was unbelievable to me. And I watched how the other guests were just dismissively rude to their assigned man-handlers. I was shocked really. So much so that I worked hard to get to know the gentleman that was with us each day. Eventually we found we had so much in common, he invited me to his home and to his community’s church. It was crazy… he made it very clear that I wasn’t to leave his side, that I was going to be unsafe this far off the strip. Uh, okay. But otherwise, I had more fun visiting him, his family, his friends, and the other church members. After we left Cancun I emailed with him occasionally, but eventually lost touch with him as sometimes happens. Regardless, I enjoyed him so much that the next time I went back I had to do my best to track him down again. But to my sadness, I found out that he left the resort after a year, and then died in an oil refinery explosion. Gah.

After watching this show, I had to really reflect on which character I was when I was at the Grand Fiesta American Coral Beach. Was I Tonya? Was I Shane? Who was I? I definitely wasn’t Quinn. Maybe I was Rachel? I see the truth, but I turned away from it? It really struck me in the center of my forehead and made me think. Have you been to an all inclusive resort? Or have you worked at one where entitled individuals come through? What side of this coin have you been on, and what have you learned as a result?? Because I still don’t know where I fall on this spectrum of inactivity and stagnation. Gah. Just gah.

Edited by: CY

White Lotus Character Walkthrough Discussion
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