Who was the most evil character on HBO Max’s recently concluded The White Lotus? Was it Jake Lacy’s petulant rich kid Shane? Was it his mother, played by Molly Shannon? (Whatever you do, don’t pick Murray Bartlett’s troubled manager Armond, who arguably did nothing wrong.) For some, the answer is two-fold: It’s Sydney Sweeney’s Olivia and Brittany O’Grady’s Paula, the Gen Z mean girls from hell. They were so cruel, so withering in their disdain for everyone, that the two actresses made a point of pointing out that, in real life, they’re not like that.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Sweeney and O’Grady made sure to distance themselves from the gruesome twosome.
“I’m super sensitive, so I was like, ‘Oh, gosh, we’re not that awful,’” O’Grady told the paper, “and then I’m looking back, and I’m like, ‘Oh gosh, we really did our job.” She also emphasized that her actual friendships are nothing like the uneasy one between Paula and Olivia.
“Can you imagine having a friendship with Paula or Olivia?” Sweeney said. She did, however, point out that the two aren’t representative of their entire generation. “I think we were a specific subculture of Gen Z. I don’t think every person in Gen Z is like Olivia and Paula.”
What’s more, O’Brady said she personally feels partial kinship with the generation ahead of her. “I have an older sister, and I hung around a lot of millennials growing up. So I identify more with millennial culture,” she said. “But I’m ’96, so I’m right on that cusp of being a millennial and Gen Z. My sister was saying that if you’re in the middle of the two like I am, it depends on what, culturally, you identify more with. One was, which is kind of gruesome, but if you remember 9/11, that means you’re considered a millennial.”
Mind you, Paula is debatably a slightly better person than Olivia, who’s far more cutting and condescending, not only to her younger brother but to strangers like Alexandra Daddario’s flailing freelance journalist Rachel. Then again, Paula did orchestrate one of the most upsetting parts of the show, even if she mostly meant well, sort of. But it sounds like people will be discussing them for quite a while.