UK

TV fans go wild as murder mystery White Lotus premieres on Sky Atlantic

It’s been dubbed ‘Aloha Christie’ and this summer’s Big Little Lies after it proved a huge hit across the pond, and now UK viewers will be able to watch The White Lotus when it premieres on Sky Atlantic tonight.

The HBO series follows the exploits of hotel employees and a group of affluent, entitled American holidaymakers at an ultra-luxurious Hawaiian holiday resort.

Written and directed by School of Rock’s Mike White, what begins as sun-soaked escapism quickly descends into a powerful, biting satirical commentary on wealth, racial divides and exploitation. 

In the first five minutes viewers witness a body bag being loaded onto a plane, setting up the murder mystery plot that unravels throughout the six episodes.

But it’s far more than your average Death In Paradise-esque whodunnit; the real drama comes from the unraveling of its seemingly picture-perfect characters, dark humour and rising tension between the hotel staff and the volatile vacationers.

It’s been dubbed this summer’s Big Little Lies and was a huge hit across the pond, and now UK viewers will be able to watch The White Lotus when it premieres on Sky Atlantic tonight (pictured: Murray Bartlett as Armond and Jolene Purdy as Lani)

Viewers are first introduced to newlyweds Shane (played by Jake Lacy) and Rachel (Alexandra Daddario), whose honeymoon is, in the eyes of Shane, thrown into utter jeopardy when they’re checked into the wrong (but almost equally lavish) suite. 

The embarrassed look on Rachel’s face speaks volumes about their relationship as a whole; while entitled Shane is loaded, she is a lowly paid journalist whose career has hit the skids. 

Such is her identity crisis that Rachel begins taking everything to heart, from a put-down from a fellow guest about one of her articles, to judgy looks from a couple of teenagers by the pool. And it doesn’t help when her mother-in-law – who paid for their suite – turns up.

Meanwhile Shane’s too busy feuding with hotel manager and recovering alcoholic Armond (Murray Bartlett) to notice.  

Viewers are first introduced to newlyweds Shane (played by Jake Lacy) and Rachel (Alexandra Daddario), whose honeymoon is, in the eyes of Shane, thrown into utter jeopardy when they're checked into the wrong (but almost equally lavish) suite

Viewers are first introduced to newlyweds Shane (played by Jake Lacy) and Rachel (Alexandra Daddario), whose honeymoon is, in the eyes of Shane, thrown into utter jeopardy when they’re checked into the wrong (but almost equally lavish) suite

While entitled Shane is loaded, Rachel is a lowly paid, increasingly insecure journalist whose career has hit the skids

While entitled Shane is loaded, Rachel is a lowly paid, increasingly insecure journalist whose career has hit the skids

The aforementioned teenagers – the epitome of woke Gen Z – are on a family holiday; Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) has brought along her friend Paula (Brittany O’Grady) to avoid spending the trip solely with her technology-obsessed brother Quinn (Fred Hechinger) and parents Nicole (Connie Britton) and Mark (Steve Zahn). 

Nicole and Mark are yet another mismatched couple, but this time it’s the woman who’s the breadwinner (CFO of a search engine, to be precise), which leaves her husband feeling thoroughly emasculated.

Mark is the epitome of the ‘worried well’, obsessed with his own mortality to the point where he can’t stop checking his ‘swollen’ testicles, convinced he’s got cancer.

Paula – the only guest who isn’t white – sparks debate about white privilege and race, claiming it’s deeply depressing watching Hawaiians dance for white tourists. The generational divide is then highlighted when Nicole suggests ‘nobody has any sympathy for [straight white men] right now’.

Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) has brought along her friend Paula (Brittany O'Grady) on a family holiday - pictured: the teens smoke weed in their hotel room

Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) has brought along her friend Paula (Brittany O’Grady) on a family holiday – pictured: the teens smoke weed in their hotel room

Nicole (Connie Britton) and Mark (Steve Zahn) are yet another mismatched couple, but this time it's the woman who's the breadwinner (CFO of a search engine, to be precise), which leaves her husband feeling thoroughly emasculated

Nicole (Connie Britton) and Mark (Steve Zahn) are yet another mismatched couple, but this time it’s the woman who’s the breadwinner (CFO of a search engine, to be precise), which leaves her husband feeling thoroughly emasculated

Another relationship which highlights the disparity between guests and staff is that of spa manager Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) and grieving narcissist Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) who has come to Hawaii to spread her mother’s ashes. 

Blown away by Belinda’s reiki and craniosacral therapies, Tanya latches onto her, inviting her to dinner and insisting she start up her own business, even offering to fund it.

Though seemingly well-intentioned, one gets the sense it’s a flitting fascination for Tanya and a way of enticing someone to listen to with her. 

There are passing references to the pandemic throughout the series, from cleaning protocols to Zoom meetings.

The fact the entitled guests are on the whole pretty abhorrent to the resort’s staff also appears to make a statement about quite how badly many service workers have been treated during Covid, and how it’s certainly brought out the worst in some people.

Another relationship which highlights the disparity between guests and staff is that of spa manager Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) and grieving narcissist Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) who has come to Hawaii to spread her mother's ashes

Another relationship which highlights the disparity between guests and staff is that of spa manager Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) and grieving narcissist Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) who has come to Hawaii to spread her mother’s ashes

While Armond does his best to follow his own advice – treating the guests like ‘sensitive children’ who ‘just need to feel seen… want to be the only child, the special chosen baby child of the hotel’, the strain becomes increasingly apparent as the series progresses. 

Tasked with coming up with a quick win show for US streaming channel HBO, after Covid caused severe delays and cancellations to its production schedule, White penned The White Lotus in August 2020, and filming began that October.

It was shot at the Four Seasons Resort Maui – which was shut to guests at the beginning of filming due to the pandemic, providing a Covid-safe bubble for its cast and crew – though critics have pointed out the irony in flying wealthy white actors to a paradise island during a pandemic to film a show about privilege. 

As Covid restrictions began to ease towards the end of filming, tourists began arriving again – which gave the cast a first-hand account of the kind of behaviours they were portraying in the drama.

Hechinger previously told W Magazine: ‘Every single day, I would see a group of people who were the characters.’   


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