White Lotus

The true villains of Mike White's new show are two Gen Z college students practicing militant wokeness.


The opening scene of HBO's The White Lotus introduces a coffin, and then it flashes back one week. Viewers will find themselves making guesses as to which unlucky guest of the eponymous Hawaiian resort hotel is fated to end up on the wrong end of a pineapple knife.

But The White Lotus, a pandemic passion project of producer and actor Mike White, is less of a proper Agatha Christie–style murder mystery and more of a Kafkaesque rumination on human misery. We meet Shane (Jake Lacy), a rich, fratty real estate agent who becomes obsessed with the idea that he and his bride (Alexandra Daddario, portraying one of the show's few non-loathsome characters) have wrongly been denied the honeymoon suite. The newlyweds are joined on their vacation by an alcoholic socialite absent-mindedly guarding a box that may or may not contain her mother's ashes as well as a dysfunctional family whose patriarch feels emasculated by his more successful wife.

No one is exactly good, but the true villains of the show are two Gen Z college students. The leader of the pair, Olivia (Sydney Sweeney), practices a brand of militant wokeness, terrorizing her mom and dad—aging avatars of Clinton-ian feminism—as well as her brother, whose crime, apparently, was being born a straight white male. Anyone who has ever complained about kids these days will feel some satisfaction when Olivia's façade crumbles.