The White Lotus season two is just as funny and iconic as the first season. The season, which follows an ensemble cast at a resort in Sicily, Italy, is just like the first season in that it is a sharp analysis of social dynamics and class, But unlike the Hawaii-set first season, a major theme throughout The White Lotus season two so far is sexuality and desire, which manifests in all of the storylines on the show, particularly one involving Albie (Adam DiMarco) and Portia (Haley Lu Richardson).
Creator Mike White has a way of getting the audience engrossed in the lives and relationships of characters quickly. Three episodes into the second season and people are already obsessed with all the characters on their luxurious Italy getaway. Albie and Portia, young adults who are staying at The White Lotus — Sicily, are developing a bond that has, quite frustratingly, not become romantic just yet. Albie is on the trip with his dad, played by Michael Imperioli, and his grandfather, played by F. Murray Abraham. Portia, who is the assistant to Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya, finds herself in a weird situation when she’s told she has to stay in her room for a week. She has to eat, so she has to leave the room. Albie and Portia become vacation friends, and Portia starts joining his family on adventures in Sicily. A few episodes in and Albie and Portia are still in an incredibly awkward stage. Albie says he is interested in her, kisses her, and Portia says she’s interested in him, but that he needs to be more assertive. Despite that, she conveniently bows out every time they’re about to get intimate. Fans of The White Lotus fans are discussing their dynamic at length: some think that this is all Albie’s fault, while some think it’s Portia’s. It turns out, a lot of people have a lot of very strong feelings about Albie and Portia.
In a Reddit thread titled, “Does anybody else feel bad for Albie and hate Portia?” fans unleashed their truth about the storyline. Apparently, some fans think Ablie is an incel, which, in case you don’t know by now, is a man who considers themself unable to attract women sexually, and as a result has misogynist, sexist opinions about women who are sexually active (like Harry Styles in Don’t Worry Darling). Alternatively, some think Portia is leading Albie on because she’s too afraid to just say she’s not into him in that way. One user wrote, “lol anyone calling Albie an incel has no idea what the word incel even means. He’s got a liberal college education that resulted in feminist values. If you’ve ever talked to an incel you know they can’t even pretend to care about women.”
Another said, “I feel for Albie because he badly wants to connect with Portia who is just not in a good place.”
A pro-Portia user said, “I think Portia’s just struggling with anxiety etc and not a bad person at all. But I agree she should just tell Albie she’s not interested.” There are many more (good and bad) takes in the thread, which you can read at your leisure.
In conclusion, only one thing is clear: Mike White is a genius who created characters that inspire thoughtful discussions about complex people and complicated relationships. Neither Albie nor Portia are wrong, but neither of them are right. They are both human beings longing for connection for different reasons. Albie’s family is falling apart, and Portia feels like her life is at a standstill. This is simply the beauty of great television writing.