Warning: This column contains spoilers for “The White Lotus.”
“The White Lotus” is HBO’s newest and horniest anthology series that satirizes and chronicles the stories of various wealthy families, groups and couples during their week-long stay with the titular White Lotus Resort chain.
Season one, set in Maui, is highlighted by a pseudo-class conflict between Armond, the manager of the hotel, along with his employees, and the guests– most notably the eccentric, Sydney Sweeney-led Mossbacher family. The sensual island of Sicily sets the scene for a sex-filled season two. It’s a season less focused on the interaction of the guests and the staff than the first, and instead takes a more direct approach in analyzing the interpersonal psychology of love and love-making among the guests.
The stand-out character and performance over the course of the two seasons is by far Armond, the season one hotel manager. His arc begins with five years of sobriety and a pristine record with his hotel. He finishes the season high off of every drug you can think of and uses a suitcase as a toilet in a final act of defiance before he is accidentally killed.
His downfall from the top of the hospitality totem pole to drugged out and dead after a week with rich people is the next in a recent line of vaguely-to-overtly anti-wealth stories. Pieces of media such as “The Menu,” both of the “Knives Out” movies, and, in my opinion, HBO’s “Succession,” do the black-comic, “out-of-touch and generally bad” satirization of the rich.
Subtle as they may be, this depiction of class disparity is a natural side-effect of the increasingly unequal state we live in, and it is important. Armond is the sympathetic character in “The White Lotus” for a host of reasons: he’s mistreated, mentally ill, LGBTQIA+ and a member of the underclass.
For all the audience knows, Armond’s slate is blank. The audience first meets him as the guests sail to shore, where he is shown instructing his staff to keep their interactions with the guests cloudy and isolated as if they’re not even there in the first place. Armond himself is playing into the perceived expendability of the common-worker that he expects the wealthy guests to arrive with and desire in the name of retaining “professionalism” and appeasing the ruling class.
His main hiccup with his guests is his fault, as the soon-to-be divorced couple on their honeymoon were assigned to the wrong room. A mistake is a mistake, but the husband calls his mother, his travel agent and Armond’s manager while refusing to talk about anything else except the rooms, even with his new bride. He emits an arrogance in his actions with Armond, displaying an “I am more important than you” type of attitude. This leaves him knowing nothing else but to be as Karen-like as he feels, and leaves the audience with no choice but to sympathize with Armond, similar to Anya Taylor-Joy in “The Menu,” Janelle Monáe and Ana De Armas in the “Knives Out” movies and the general failure of the Roy family in “Succession.”
Armond, naturally, is frustrated by this behavior. He’s in a really bad place already, but when Sydney Sweeney’s bag full of drugs is brought to him, he is given the perfect opportunity to down a few pills. From here, Armond spirals into the aforementioned death. This begs the question: is it better to be repeatedly mistreated by pompous rich people or go on a days-long, drug and sex filled romp into the grave?
“The White Lotus” is the next installment in the class-conscious cinematic universe that is implanting something politically positive within the mind of American viewers. The turn to these types of movies reaching the mainstream is a far better palate than U.S. Pentagon-co-signed Marvel movies and Navy recruitment-bait like the new “Top Gun.” Watching these shows with a worker-sympathetic eye is necessary when it comes to properly understanding their narratives; so, in short: snort a line, have drunken sex with your coworker and root for the proles.
Matthew Butcher is a sophomore studying English at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Matthew know by tweeting him @mattpauI.