The White Lotus: HBO comedy-drama attracts rave reviews from critics

image source, HBO
image captionSydney Sweeney and Brittany O'Grady play two of the hotel's wealthy and entitled guests

HBO's latest comedy-drama series The White Lotus has received rave reviews from critics.

The show, which began in the UK this week after a successful US run, focuses on the entitled guests and exhausted staff at a luxurious hotel in Hawaii.

"This nightmarish vision of paradise is the comedy of the year," said The Independent in a five-star review.

The Telegraph added: "Even though White Lotus is the hotel from hell, you'll want to check in for the duration."

The series is created, written and directed by Mike White, whose previous film and TV credits include Pitch Perfect 3, Beatriz at Dinner, The Emoji Movie and School of Rock.

'Magnificently monstrous'

American Pie actress Jennifer Coolidge and Baywatch's Alexandra Daddario feature as some of the hotel's guests in the show, along with Friday Night Lights star Connie Britton.

Meanwhile, Murray Bartlett and Natasha Rothwell play senior members of staff catering to their every whim.

"Dreadful rich people make for brilliant TV, but it is rare to see their privileges and prejudices skewered with such relentless precision," said The Evening Standard's Katie Rosseinsky, awarding it five stars.

"White's characters can be monstrous, but they are so carefully wrought (down to the paperbacks that they're pretending to read on their sun loungers) that they also feel painfully human."

image source, HBO
image captionThe hotel's staff, played by actors including Jolene Purdy and Murray Bartlett, sometimes struggle with the guests

The Guardian's Lucy Mangan also gave the series full marks, labelling it "a magnificently monstrous look at how the other half live".

"None of the guests is wholly villainous," she said. "White is too good to make it that easy for us: the entire point has to be their horrifying relateability.

"How they unthinkingly accept services rendered. How they assume their money buys everything (and these are but high-end middle-class Americans - nowhere near what you might call the truly rich)."

The first episode opens with one character, Shane (Jake Lacy), waiting in an airport lounge having just spent his holiday at the White Lotus.

Asked by fellow passengers whether a rumour about a guest having died there is true, he confirms it is and tells them the body is being flown home on the plane they are about to board.

The show then flashes back to a week earlier as viewers wait to find out who died, and how, over the following episodes.

The Independent's Ed Cumming suggested the "brilliant ensemble cast" and the script "never relaxes into easy stereotypes".

"Even the worst monsters have vulnerabilities, but the downtrodden service staff aren't blameless."

image source, Reuters
image captionBaywatch star Alexandra Daddario attended the US premiere of the show last month

He continued: "Extreme wealth can become a prison for the selfish, but it's more comfortable than poverty. Even in this nightmarish vision of paradise, there are plenty of human remains, and this sharp, funny series, quite possibly the comedy of the year so far, is all the richer for it."

The White Lotus concluded in the US last week but the first episode was only broadcast in the UK on Monday.

The whole series has been made available on streaming service Now, while weekly episodes are broadcast on Sky Atlantic.

Overall, the comedy lands somewhere between Agatha Christie and Gossip Girl, according to The Telegraph's Benji Wilson, who dished out four stars.

What The White Lotus does "brilliantly", he wrote, "is redefine what paradise and perfection mean in the age of Instagram".

"More than ever we are obsessed with how our lives appear to others. So if The White Lotus isn't attempting anything new then it still goes about its task of skewering some zeitgeisty anxieties with real devilry."

image source, HBO
image captionJennifer Coolidge plays Tanya McQuoid, a troubled hotel guest whose mother has recently died

Writing in The Times, Carol Midgley said: "Played out, thrillingly, is the rot that lurks beneath silk and diamond exteriors, people oozing entitlement but no empathy. When you are paying this much how can anything be good enough? It is a self-made hell in paradise: delicious."

Midgley, another writer to give five out of five, referred to the many viewers who said they felt underwhelmed by the first episode following all the glowing reviews.

"If you watched episode one of The White Lotus and thought, 'Yes, quite good, but I'm not feeling the five-star ravings I've heard about it,' then I say this: keep the faith and rest assured that it gets stonkingly good very soon, episode four being its peak, which is when most dramas tread water," she advised.

"I have watched all six and, trust me, you're in for a treat."

In another five star review, Empire's Boyd Hilton said: "With its gaggle of selfish characters living in a bubble of privilege, The White Lotus initially feels like the latest in a long line of HBO series about entitled white people behaving thoroughly obnoxiously - Succession, The Undoing and Big Little Lies come to mind.

"As giddily entertaining as those shows are, do we really need to spend six hours in the company of more super-rich a-holes? Improbably, yes. It soon becomes clear this is a much edgier, more gleefully transgressive show."

image source, Reuters
image captionThe series is created, written and directed by Mike White

However, reviewing the show last month when it started in the US, The Washington Post's Inkoo Kang struck a slightly less enthusiastic tone.

"There's plenty here of White's tart sensibility, queer boundary-pushing and serrated observations of how self-loathers tend to spread their wretchedness to those around them," she said.

"The trollish timing of the show's premise - that vacations are wasted on those who least need it - certainly deserves some grudging admiration. But a swerve late in the series disappointingly sails the story toward calmer waters. Once the turbulence is over, only froth remains."

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