Finally, the powers that be at HBO have realized that the right way to expand upon a critically-acclaimed mini-series: The White Lotus will get a second season, but this time with new characters and a new location. Imagine that! A smart way to expand upon a fictional universe that doesn’t involve forced storylines and absolutely losing the thread.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, HBO realized that what Mike White was doing with the show was actually good, and that he should be able to do more of that, but in a way that actually makes sense. Instead of forcing the cast to stick around for a second season at the same resort, perhaps to litigate whatever happened to the still-unidentified person in the body bag, the second season of The White Lotus will take place at a different White Lotus resort, featuring an entirely new cast of characters and a brand new tropical setting. Finally? Someone made a decision that actually makes sense for the show in question and doesn’t feel like a blatant grab for cash or clout.
“Mike [White] has once again delivered a quintessential HBO show, and it’s the talk of the town,” Francesca Orsi, HBO’s executive VP of programming said in a press release. “We were thrilled to hear where he wanted to go next, after closing this epic chapter in Hawaii, and can’t wait to keep following him wherever he takes us.”
Setting aside the Hollywood exec, cigar-chomping lingo that reduces the brilliance of the show to a number on a P&L sheet for one moment, what Orsi is saying is the correct way to think about a mini-series. If a creator made a world so compelling that people are clamoring for more, why not actually give them more by not just cramming in a weak storyline into the same setting, but actually using your noggin to expand beyond the borders you created?
Arguably, the anthology series is not a new concept, but unlike Ryan Murphy, who is the king of this particular television gambit, Mike White makes excellent, subversive, and clever television. The genius of The White Lotus is how terrible the characters are, but also how White allows them to fully inhabit their horribleness in a setting that traditionally makes rich people feel at ease. Lingering with the cast as it currently stands would feel a bit like a vacation past its expiration date, so relocating the entire thing to a new resort creates an exciting opportunity for the resort to exert itself as more of a character than a setting. Perhaps there’s something more sinister about the hotels in question that we aren’t seeing, but will soon, when the second season debuts. Or maybe it’s not the setting at all, but truly about the characters. Plopping wealthy people in the middle of luxurious environments where they fully expect to be treated like royalty and watching what happens is nothing new under the sun, but the perverse thrill of seeing how morally reprehensible the other half really are will never, ever get old.