The White Lotus Misery Index is a weekly accounting of who and/or what is having the worst time in paradise in season two of the HBO series. The rankings are based on a number of factors, none of which can or will be quantified in any way. We are doing art here, not science.
UNRANKED: Bert Di Grasso (flirting and farting around Italy, bonking his head a little, feels like there’s a disaster here waiting to happen); Cameron (seems like a happy doofus with a big ding dong, which is not the worst way to go through life); Ethan (big old zero so far); Massimo the Italian boy (breaking hearts across the country); Lucia the Escort (feels like it should be noted somewhere that the real name of this actress is Simona Tabasco); various unnamed White Lotus employees (would watch a Party Down-style companion series just about how much these people hate the guests); Greg McQuoid (huge weasel and putz but I kind of love him?); Rocco (favorite character so far, hope he marries Tanya by the end of the season and they go live in a castle)
10. Giuseppe the Piano Man
Rough night for Giuseppe. Stuck playing Italian cocktail music for wealthy tourists when he probably has other musical ambitions. Mistakenly believed a young girl with an interest in music was a prostitute, in part because of her makeup and in part because she’d been hanging around with her escort friend, all of which got a drink justifiably whipped in his face in front of everyone at the bar who he had just been tickling the ivories for. You get the feeling this might not be the first time this kind of thing has happened to Giuseppe. None of it is really all that ideal.
ON ONE HAND: She doesn’t watch the news and seems to love her doofus husband and their kids. In the flash forward at the very beginning, when she was talking to Angelina and Kara from Survivor on the beach, she seemed happy and had the general disposition of a lady who enjoyed her vacation, which seems nice.
ON THE OTHER HAND: It was kind of weird that she was out there alone. And Cameron was making sort-of flirty eyes at every woman he saw, including Harper, who he stripped down in front of in a way that did not feel entirely accidental. And she… uh… found a dead body in the ocean. Which does not seem like a fun thing I would want to do on vacation. Or… ever. No dead bodies for me, thank you.
I cannot explain why but I like Daphne more than almost any other character so far and I am very worried about her. We will monitor this situation going forward.
8. Tanya McQuoid
- Back for season two, at a new resort, with her dipshit husband Greg and more luggage than any person could ever need
- Already engaged in a “hide my assistant” ruse that is bordering on Scooby-Doo territory, hustling her into and out of places and making her cower behind a menu at dinner
- Disassociating during sex and freaking out a little, after one of the saddest and funniest seductions you’ll ever see
- Waist-deep in a macaroon farce
It’s wonderful. I love her very much. At some point we are going to need to figure out a way to slip Jennifer Coolidge in more — most, maybe all — shows, but for now it’s just nice that she gets to go to luxurious resorts around the world and put on a comedic clinic like this. What a treasure. We must protect her.
7. The Blind Nun Who Makes Cheese in a Basement
We cannot rule out the possibility that this woman takes great pride in her work and feels like a valued and appreciated member of society due to her cheese-making prowess, but let me be very clear about something: if you ever hear that I am stuck making cheese in the basement of a convent, please call the police. I have been taken hostage. These are not nuns. This is an international cheese smuggling operation that uses religion as a front. Please send help. You will be rewarded with all the cheese you can carry out of that basement.
6. Albie Di Grasso
This poor kid is:
- On vacation with his dad (marriage falling apart, setting up meetings with prostitutes) and his grandfather (horny and gassy) as part of a mission to find their Sicilian roots
- Crushing a little bit on Portia, Tanya’s assistant, who is not allowed to leave her room
- Spending a lot of time with his headphones in, which is often television shorthand for “having a bad time”
He seems like a sweet boy. I want the best for him. I hope he and Portia get to make out a little bit even though I know things on this show rarely ever work out great for the characters I want to have a good time.
5. Valentina the Manager
It was always going to be tough to top Armond, the hotel manager from the first season who was played by Murray Bartlett and descended into cocaine-tooting madness by the end of the festivities. There was so much going on with him and all of it was delightful. The GIF of him blowing lines and throwing middle fingers to the sky will stay saved on my desktop forever, just to break out for emergencies. But…
… if you’re going to try…
… I mean…
Let’s just say there are plenty of less productive ways to take this all than “a bossy Italian woman who calls a guest old to his face and shouts at poor Rocco about the Prosecco and spends half the season premiere attempting to chase young prostitutes out of the lobby the way a maid in a cartoon tries to shoo mice out of a kitchen.” I half expect her to start swatting at them with a broom. Her journey over the course of this season will be fascinating.
4. Mia the Maybe Escort
- Devastated over Massimo, who I really hope we get to meet at some point, just to see who this heartbreaker is
- Getting roped into potential threesomes by her escort friend
- Getting propositioned by slick piano men in cocktail lounges when she just wants to talk about music
So here’s the thing…
Everyone on this show is awful. Mostly. In their own special little way. It’s one of the things that makes this show so good, the way Mike White can identify the different types of terrible people and the little nuances that make them each so uniquely insufferable. So we watch the first episode and see the dynamic between the two young couples, Ethan/Harper and Cameron/Daphne, and yes, of course, I would not super want to be stuck on a vacation with either one of them. But the interesting thing for me is going to be watching viewers react to them. Which couple you feel sympathy for, if you feel any sympathy for either, is going to make for a fun little psychological test.
I suspect things are not going to go great for any of them, and Cameron does give off incredibly strong creep vibes (he sure does have opinions about workplace harassment!), but if I had to choose who to be on vacation with a couple, please, give me the “we don’t watch the news and can’t remember if we voted and just kind of want to bounce around and have fun and watch Ted Lasso” over “current events obsessed bummers who show up at an opulent resort and proceed to mope around and stare at their screens too much,” even if this is the type of role Aubrey Plaza was born to play.
Another situation worth monitoring. It will not surprise me at all if I end up eating a lot of these words as the season progresses.
2. Dominic Di Grasso
No one is having less fun than this doof, between his dad hitting on every hotel employee under the age of 45 and his wife — VOICED BY LAURA DERN — shouting at him on the phone, and him pawning off his potentially concussed octogenarian father on his miserable son so he can have pathetic chair sex with a young Italian prostitute he met online and doesn’t particularly want to talk to. I’ll tell you who is having fun, though: Me. It rules to see Michael Imperioli back on HBO getting frustrated by older Italian men who are stuck in their ways. It’s been too long. Anyway…
Welcome to paradise, buddy.
1. Portia the Assistant
One hour into this season and the only thing that truly matters to me is that we, at some point, get to see Portia — dragged to Italy by Tanya, ordered to stay in the room and hide from Greg, basically a prisoner on vacation — thrive to such a remarkable degree that other characters become jealous of her in a truly ugly way.
I feel like we could get there. Fingers crossed.