In this section of the Colossus Season 2 Guide for The White Lotus, we talk about themes that help us understand the film.
The themes and meaning of The White Lotus Season 2
Season 2 of The White Lotus has a few core themes. Specifically: sex, betrayal, hope. If you re-watch the season with these themes in mind, you can see how much they dominate the character arcs and subtext.
Sex is a focal point for a number of characters and storylines.
- Lucia is a call girl.
- Mia isn’t a call girl but decides to use sex as a bartering tool.
- Dominic is a sex-addict.
- Dominic’s grandfather, Bert, was a sex-addict.
- Dominic’s son, Albie, is caught between feminism and the influence of his father and grandfather.
- Ethan is addicted to porn.
- Harper is sex-starved and wants Ethan to want her.
- Cameron uses sex as a weapon whenever his ego is hurt.
- Daphne uses sex to get even with Cameron.
- For Tanya, sex is bait to set her up for a hit.
- Portia chooses sexual attraction over emotional connection and it almost costs her her life.
- Valentina is sexually repressed.
Since every character has a different relationship with sex, it allows the show to make more than single, overall statement and instead be a wide-ranging discussion on the topic. Sometimes it’s negative. Sometimes it’s positive. But it’s not one thing.
Betrayal is another constant for every character. Unlike the theme of sex, it’s not a balance of some good betrayal and some bad. All the betrayal is bad. It’s just a question of whether what happens next has any silver lining.
Dominic, for example, has a chance to make amends. Albie is young and wealthy enough that what Lucia does to him probably has little impact on the foundation of his life. What Ethan and Harper go through is ugly, but in the aftermath they rediscover something they had lost. But Greg’s betrayal of Tanya leads directly to Tanya’s demise.
- Lucia betrays Albie by scamming him for 50,000 euros.
- Mia feels betrayed by Giuseppe, the piano player who promised her career opportunities if she slept with him. But then eventually one ups him and wins his job.
- Dominic has betrayed his wife by constantly sleeping with other women and is dealing with the fallout.
- Bert cheated a lot and we see the impact it had on Dominic and maybe even on Albie.
- Albie wants to be the opposite of his dad and that causes him to, with the best of intentions, betray his own interests and family
- Ethan almost cheats on Harper, then is uncertain if Harper cheats on him with Cameron, so cheats on Harper with Cameron’s wife.
- Harper is uncertain if Ethan cheated on her, so maybe cheats on Ethan with Cameron, then probably will never know Ethan does cheat with Daphne.
- Cameron cheats on Daphne with Lucia and Mia because he felt abandoned by her. Then maybe cheats with Harper because he’s jealous of Ethan.
- And Daphne cheats on Cameron in order to feel like they’re even so she can keep their family together.
- Tanya doesn’t know Greg has put out a hit on her. And that her new friend, Quentin, is actually the one setting up the hit.
- Portia thinks Jack is Quentin’s nice, wealthy nephew. That they have a genuine connection. Only to discover he has been assigned to distract her and maybe even “get rid of her”.
- Valentina has a crush on Isabella and begins an effort to win Isabella’s affection. But it turns out Isabella is engaged. So Valentina’s betrayed by her own expectations.
It’s pretty standard for characters to want something. But in White Lotus Season 2, it seems to be more than a simple want. You have characters who are dreaming, yearning, envisioning. They find themselves in a status quo and are desperate to either break out of it or maintain it. And this hope essentially drives the characters to do what they do.
Like Harper doesn’t want to cheat on Ethan. But her hope Ethan will desire her creates an opportunity when Cameron desires her. Lucia cares about Albie but scamming him is her best chance to change her life. Tanya’s lack of self-sufficiency causes her to constantly be over-dependent on everyone. Which leads her to some pretty bad relationships.
- Lucia hopes to stop being an escort and go into fashion.
- Mia hopes to be a singer.
- Dominic hopes to win his wife back.
- Bert hopes to connect with distant relatives.
- Albie hopes to be a better man than his father.
- Ethan hopes to feel superior to Cameron.
- Harper hopes Ethan will desire her again.
- Cameron hopes to never feel inferior.
- Daphne hopes to maintain her marriage (though in her own way).
- Tanya hopes someone will take care of her.
- Portia hopes to have fun.
- Valentina hopes someone will love her.
What are your thoughts?
Are there more themes you think should be part of the Colossus Season 2 Guide for The White Lotus? Leave your comments below and we’ll consider updating the guide.