The White Lotus: 7 Reasons To Watch The Emmy-Nominated Series (If You Haven't Already)

Jennifer Coolidge dancing in the ocean in The White Lotus
(Image credit: HBO Max)

Nominations for the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards were finally announced!

HBO Max's dark comedy series The White Lotus earned 20 nominations this year, tying with Ted Lasso for the second-most nominated show of the year (both shows fall behind Succession, which garnered 25 nominations).

This will be The White Lotus’ first turn at the Emmy awards, with nominations for directing, acting, set design, costuming, and Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series. 

If 20 Emmy nominations weren’t enough to convince you to start watching the star-studded series, here are a few more reasons why The White Lotus is a can’t miss show. 

Natasha Rothwell and Jake Lacy in The White Lotus

(Image credit: HBO Max)

White Lotus Combines Comedy, Drama, And Mystery

This HBO limited series doesn’t fit neatly into one category. Rather, The White Lotus combines elements of comedy and drama into an overarching mystery teased to viewers in the opening scene.

The White Lotus takes place in Hawaii, chronicling the luxurious vacations of a newlywed couple on their honeymoon, a rich CFO and her family, and a woman toting around the ashes of her deceased mother. The show begins at the start of their vacation and concludes when they depart—leaving us to wonder what became of the paradise they disturbed and the people they discarded along the way.

We also see the contrast between the lives of the resort guests and those of the workers and locals. While the guests toil over room upgrades and lost party drugs, the workers and locals have to follow around and clean up their messes while dealing with the turmoil in their own lives.

Murray Bartlett as Armond the hotel manager in The White Lotus

(Image credit: HBO Max)

The Cast Is Extremely Talented

While each cast member definitely pulled their weight in bringing The White Lotus to life, Murray Bartlett's portrayal of Armond is definitely a standout performance. As the well-mannered and hospitable Armond succumbs to the pressures of his job, Bartlett's performance becomes more and more deranged.

The rivalry between Armond and Shane is expertly portrayed, with Jake Lacy stepping to the challenge of playing The White Lotus' villain. While Lacy may have a sweet face and a nice-guy smile, Shane is a character you'll love to hate.

Alexandra Daddario is the perfect counterpart to Lacy, perfectly demonstrating the fish-out-of-water experience of a poor girl catapulted into a wealthy lifestyle. Daddario's character contrasts starkly with the richer women at The White Lotus, like Connie Britton's out-of-touch Nicole and her spoiled social justice warrior daughter, Olivia (Sydney Sweeney).

In addition to a nod for Outstanding Casting, the actors of The White Lotus earned eight Emmy nominations for supporting roles in the Limited Series category:

  • Supporting Actor: Murray Bartlett (Armond)
  • Supporting Actor: Jake Lacy (Shane)
  • Supporting Actor: Steve Zahn (Mark)
  • Supporting Actress: Connie Britton (Nicole)
  • Supporting Actress: Jennifer Coolidge (Tanya)
  • Supporting Actress: Alexandra Daddario (Rachel)
  • Supporting Actress: Natasha Rothwell (Belinda)
  • Supporting Actress: Sydney Sweeney (Olivia)

That’s right: nearly every actor involved with the project was nominated. That includes a first-time nomination for Sydney Sweeney, who earned a second supporting actress nomination this year in the Drama category for her role in Euphoria.

Sydney Sweeney and Brittany O'Grady, lounging by the pool in The White Lotus

(Image credit: HBO Max)

The Characters Are Complex and Well-Written

The White Lotus earned nominations for outstanding writing and directing, thanks to series creator, writer, and director Mike White. When you watch the show, you’ll understand why. 

Each character in The White Lotus is unique, and we see their backstories play out during their vacation adventures. We have Nicole Mossbacher, a powerful businesswoman and the breadwinner of her family, and her husband Mark, a man anxiously awaiting the results of a medical diagnosis. Their children Olivia and Quinn join them on the trip, along with Olivia’s college friend Paula, a woman who seems uneasy to participate in the privileged activities of her friend’s wealthy family.

Next up are Shane and Rachel, two newlyweds who are dissatisfied with their honeymoon trip for very different reasons. Shane is a wealthy realtor, while Rachel is a freelance writer not yet used to the wealthy lifestyle of her new husband.

The White Lotus manager Armond ties the stories together—the recovering addict must please his boss, accommodate the guests, and put on a happy face, all while dealing with his own issues. 

Rowers heading out into the ocean in The White Lotus

(Image credit: HBO Max)

The Setting Is Beautiful

There’s no denying the breathtaking beauty of the Hawaiian beaches that are home to the White Lotus resort. The show was filmed on-site in Hawaii, and carries on the HBO Max tradition of beautifully shot programming that’s just plain pleasing to watch.

While the natural majesty of Hawaii provides the backdrop for The White Lotus, the production also earned Emmy nominations for outstanding production design and outstanding contemporary costumes, adding to the overall feel of the show.

Connie Britton and Steve Zahn as married couple Nicole and Mark Mossbacher in The White Lotus

(Image credit: HBO Max)

We Love Anthologies

If you love shows like True Detective, Fargo, or American Horror Story, you might also be a fan of The White Lotus. The second season of the limited series will take place in a new setting, with a new cast, new stories, and a different White Lotus resort.

While I’m sure we can expect many of the same themes to be present in Season 2, viewers will have the opportunity to watch a completely different story that still tells the tale of privileged guests coming and going without regard to the people and places they leave behind.

The White Lotus: Sicily is set to premiere sometime in 2022, although official release dates have yet to be announced.

Jennifer Coolidge as Tanya in The White Lotus

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Jennifer. Coolidge.

Fans of The White Lotus Season 1 will be happy to learn that despite Season 2 taking place in a different resort with different patrons, Jennifer Coolidge will be reprising the role of Tanya in The White Lotus: Sicily

While the actress has a loyal fan base thanks to roles in films like Legally Blonde and the American Pie franchise, The White Lotus marks the first time Coolidge has been nominated for her work. The comedic relief she provides in the series will be a welcome addition to Season 2, as well as a unifying chord to tie all future seasons together.

The White Lotus would simply not be the same show without Coolidge, who shared in a recent New York Times interview that she actually tried to remove herself from the show:

I was sort of nervous about it and I tried to get out of it. I truly did. I was nervous about vain things, like not looking right and not being able to deliver somehow. I just didn’t want to fail, and I didn’t want to be the only one in the cast that didn’t pull through. But it’s a great life lesson: When you want to try to get out of something, maybe it’s the best thing you could be involved in.

Thankfully, Coolidge stuck it out, and as a result earned her very first Emmy nomination.

Alexandra Daddario as Rachel in The White Lotus

(Image credit: HBO Max)

The White Lotus Touches On More Than Just Selfish People On Vacation

It’s easy to get swept away by the drama that unfolds among the characters at the White Lotus resort, but there are some underlying themes throughout the series that are much more dark than the sandy white beaches might suggest.

I won’t give it all away, but here’s some food for thought: Vacationers sometimes have a tendency to disregard the history and culture of the places they visit. Keep that in mind as you watch the privileged guests of The White Lotus run amok all over Maui. None of the characters really care about anything other than their own problems, and they especially don't care about the lives of the people serving them on their luxurious getaway.

The White Lotus isn't just about rich tourists. It's about the people who are affected by tourists as well.

While we don’t know exactly how the plot of Season 2 will compare to Season 1, we can be sure the impact tourism and colonialism has on the setting will be at the core of the story, along with more commentary on social status and the divide between natives and the people who visit their homes.

Will The White Lotus sweep the Emmys? Tune in on Monday, September 12 to watch the results of the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards on NBC. In the meantime, you can watch Season 1 of the HBO Max original show on the streaming service.

Emily Marek

She/her. Lover of female-led comedies, Saturday Night Live, and THAT scene in Fleabag. Will probably get up halfway through the movie to add more butter to the popcorn.