Set in Hawaii, the first season of HBO’s The White Lotus got off to a slow start but became more immersive and addictive as time went on. The second season, again written/directed entirely by Mike White, moves to a White Lotus estate in Sicily and starts out stronger and then becomes more routine through five episodes made available for review.
The seven-part second season of White Lotus, which premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO/HBO Max, looks stunning in its new setting on the Italian coast. The new cast of waves checking into the resort hints at intrigue to come, especially after the opening scene announces multiple deaths will occur. Then the show snaps back to a week earlier when the guests arrive.
Tanya McQuoid-Hunt (Emmy-winner Jennifer Coolidge) and her husband Greg (Jon Gries), the only holdovers from the first season, attempt a romantic getaway, but Tanya has her assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) in tow for way too much Greg’s dismay.
While many viewers will tune in to Coolidge, this season’s early MVP is Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”), who ditches her April Ludgate-esque role for a more nuanced, less deadpan performance as Harper, the soft-spoken liberal woman Ethan (Will Sharpe). They vacation with Ethan’s obnoxious college friend Cameron (Theo James) and Cameron’s wife Daphne (Meghann Fahy).
A Los Angeles family rounds out this season’s featured guests. Dominic (Michael Imperiolo, “The Sopranos”) is in the kennel with his wife for cheating, so she skipped the trip to take Dominic’s kind, sensitive son Albie (Adam DiMarco) and Dominic’s horny, older father Bert (F Murray Abraham) .
This season’s “White Lotus” plays less of a role for the hotel staff, led by manager Valentina (Sabrina Impacciatore), who constantly scares away two young Italian girls (Beatrice Granno, Simona Tabasco) who are having sex for money and who show up frequently in the hotel’s hotel rooms American guests.
The politics of sex, transactional sex, lust and infidelity are the main themes White explores this season, along with father-son relationships. It’s interesting enough, and the production design, costumes, musical score, and setting keep White Lotus from becoming boring — but this season is more predictable and less shocking so far.
A sex scene in episode five designed to get viewers clutching their beads is both predictable and less lewd than season one’s taboo sexual moment.
But even if the conspiracy is less urgent and the comedy, when it flares up (not often enough), less scathing, White Lotus remains well worth watching for White’s finely drawn characters throughout, be it Daphne’s sunny disposition masking uncomfortable truths or Dominic’s justification /Sorry for his cheating.
The number one reason someone will watch Hulu’s God Forbid: The Sex Scandal That Brought Down a Dynasty is out of lewd interest. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
But the two-hour documentary, which airs November 1, tries to rise above the predictable rubberneck by covering all the sordid details – how Jerry Falwell Jr. enjoyed watching his wife Becki having sex with Miami pool boy Giancarlo Granda watch – with the story surrounding the rise of Falwell’s father, the founding of the morally and politically conservative Liberty University, and the rise of the “moral majority”.
It’s like ordering a big bowl of ice cream and being served a side of vegetables you never ordered.
Directed by Billy Corben (“Cocaine Cowboys”), “God Forbid” certainly has a story worth telling given the falwells’ hypocrisy of extramarital sex for me but not for you. To his credit, Granda comes across as believable and mostly innocent; only occasionally does he utter topics of conversation.
But tuning-in viewers should be prepared: it’s a spoonful of sugar (all that sexy stuff about the seven-year sexual, personal, and business relationship between the Falwells and Granda) that drowns the medicine (the cultural-historical-political background).
Pittsburghers on ‘Jopardy!’
As noted on Monday’s Pittsburgh Pop Podcast, Pittsburgher Margaret Shelton, who raised almost $80,000 on four “Jeopardy!” Episodes in March, return to the game show for a Tournament of Champions starting Monday at 7:30 p.m. on WPXI-TV.
Shelton, who lives in Pittsburgh’s East End, will appear in a quarterfinal matchup on November 2nd. “Jopardy!” producers contacted her earlier this year to check on her availability.
“What I said was, whenever you want to do it, I have no plans that can’t be worked out for it,” said Shelton, a self-proclaimed “‘Jeopardy!’ Freak” who returned to the “Jeopardy!” Soundstage in Culver City, California during the third week of September.
New KDKA TV reporters
Latrobe native Chris DeRose joins Channel 2 this week as a weekend morning news reporter. He will also report three weekdays in the morning. He previously worked as a feature reporter for television stations in Chicago, Billings, Mont. and Salt Lake City. He trained in comedy at Second City in Chicago before moving into television news. From 2016 to 2020, he took a break from news to be a Los Angeles-based actor, writer and producer, including an Associate Producer on Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast. and as a VIP guide of Universal Studios Hollywood.
Erica Mokay, a 2012 West Virginia University graduate and former KDKA-TV intern, will be on the air on Channel 2 next week, covering weekend nights, three days a week and occasionally filling in as a presenter. She comes to KDKA from WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo, Mich., where she was a presenter/reporter. Previously, she worked at WTOV-TV in Steubenville, which offered her a job before graduating from WVU.
HBO has renewed the drama Industry, starring 2018 Carnegie Mellon University graduate Myha’la Herrold, for a third season.
Starz renewed P-Valley for a third season.
Nickelodeon has ordered a second Monster High movie. Western Pennsylvania native Todd Holland returns as director.
Amazon Prime Video has canceled autism drama ‘As We See It’ after a single season.
According to Variety, the Pittsburgh Apple TV+ film “Cha Cha Real Smooth” received the Ruderman Family Foundation’s Seal of Authentic Representation for its portrayal of a character with autism, Lola, played by actress Vaneaa Burghardt, an actress with autism. … Apple TV+ price increases from $5 per month to $7 per month ($50 annually to $70 annually). … In 2023 “Doctor Who” in the USA will switch from the linear broadcaster BBC America to the Disney+ streaming service. … Netflix’s first original series, 2012’s Lilyhammer, will leave the service at the end of the month.
You can reach television writer Rob Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-8559. Keep following Rob Twitter or Facebook. Ask TV questions by email or phone. Please enter your first name and location.