the lotus eaters

Hthere is a myth. There is a poem. In the Greek myth of The Odyssey and in the poem by the British Tennyson, the lotus eaters live out their days on an unknown island in Africa. They dedicate themselves, of course, to eating lotus and isolating themselves from the rest of the world, giving themselves (breeches and all) to apathy, torpor and a state of unreality resulting from the consumption of, yes, lotus.

Writer, director and creator Mike White commented that before he had developed his miniseries project, he knew it would be called The White Lotus as a reference to the myth, the poem, and his own last name. This series based on Greek myths and poems and surnames has 20 Emmy nominations. AHA. But why?

Let’s start with Mike White. Good Mike has such disparate things on his resume as Dawson’s Creek, Freak and Geeks and Enlightened. And on film, he will always be remembered for writing that iconic 2003 comedy School of Rock.

Seeing those titles we will know important things about Mike, one of them is that he has a sense of humor, another would be that his humor has been evolving and, in fact, in The white lotus he manages to find his best friends in satire and sarcasm.

The white lotus has only six episodes. One of his first scenes is when a group of employees of a luxury resort are standing on the shore of a Hawaiian beach, with the waves hitting the rocks and a small yacht carrying the tourist-guests to their vacation spot. The first scene marks very well the employee-guest separations, low social scale-high social scale, not privileges-privileges.

This is a series of characters so each character has very marked characteristics. On the guest side: Tanya, the older lady (Jennifer Coolidge) whose abusive mother has died and is going to scatter her ashes into the sea; the Mossbacher family, in which Nicole (Connie Britton) is a successful woman who earns more than Mark (Steve Zahn), her husband who is tired because he thinks he has testicular cancer, Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) is the daughter who constantly questions his privileges and that he invites Paula (Britnnay O Grady), his unprivileged friend, to his luxury vacations, while Queen (Fred Herchinger), his brother, lives on his cell phone watching porn.

The young newlywed couple made up of a mama’s boy, Shane (Jake Lacy) and Alex (Alexandra Daddario), a journalist who feels she has made a mistake. On the employee side is Armand (Murray Barlet), the venue’s manager/administrator, a recovering gay drug addict who becomes stressed dealing with guests, and the empathetic Belinda (Natasha Rothwell), who runs the venue’s spa, as the main characters.

Mike White’s series proposes a story in which the spotlight is constantly being placed on the lotus eaters (the guests) people with so many privileges that their concerns sound silly when compared to the problems that the employees of the hotel deal with on a daily basis. hotel.

The story, which aims to have a high critical dose, also presents a mystery, since in its first minutes it is revealed that one of the characters died, and from that it becomes like a flashback in which it is told what happened, who died, how and why. That manages to keep our attention because there comes a time (especially at the Mossbacher family meals) when the pamphlet is used as a narrative element and feminism, racism, social gap, etc. are discussed… and that’s where boredom and imposition slap the viewer.

Happily, the fantastic music by Canadian/Chilean Cristobal Tapia shakes off any narrative fatigue. Animal shrieks, moans, wind instruments, a tribal wave, which, as White says, convey the sensation of an almost barbaric act, as if a sacrifice were about to be made. It must be one of the best series soundtracks of the year. I could put it on loop all day.

The white lotus has the ability to wrap us in all the stories and give each one the focus it requires, but there is a contradiction in the criticism it intends to make. I do not doubt their good intentions, but how can you criticize the privileged classes, ignorant of reality, utilitarians of those who are below, oblivious to the needs of others, if you solve the other side of the coin with the usual stereotypes: the closet gay who contracted AIDS, the employee who ends up stealing because supposedly the rich with their existence have stolen from “their people”, the dark-haired girl with fewer resources who resents the friendship of the privileged one who does not He denounces her and even tries to empathize with her, the drug addict gay manager who commits all possible crimes…if the plot is analyzed well, there are many things that make noise.

In addition to the fact that the cast is very good (almost all of them are nominated for best actor/actress for a reason) and that the series is seen with a dose of entertainment and black humor, there are issues that hopefully will be resolved in the second season because the impression that remains it is a remnant of the Odyssey myth, of Tennyson’s poem: we have a lotus eater trying to criticize the lotus eaters.

Monica HeinrichV. / Reviewer and cinephile at heart

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