Rejoice, White Lotus fans! What HBO billed as a limited series has become so popular—and has gathered enough steam since it debuted a month ago—that HBO and HBO Max have decided to re-up the six-episode satirical series. Show creator and writer Mike White will be returning, but not his hysterical cast: Murray Bartlett, Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, Steve Zahn, Alexandra Daddario, and co. Season two will reportedly take place in another White Lotus hotel property, but in a totally different setting and with a brand new cast.
The White Lotus started airing without a lot of fanfare a month ago, but critics jumped on it fast—particularly during this late-summer dead zone in TV programming. The Hollywood Reporter’s top TV critic called it “delightfully mean, with a heart.” It also grabbed a ton of attention on social media, and, in turn, got a bigger audience. Right now, it’s sitting pretty with an 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Even with COVID keeping people home again, it’s had that water-cooler effect in Zoom meetings.
What’s most interesting about the pick-up order is that The White Lotus was absolutely conceived of as a six-episode series, not unlike HBO’s The Undoing. But even venerable cable giants can change their minds, particularly when they wind up with a surprise hit on their hands. White wrote the entire script at a brisk pace and set it at a single location to make COVID less of an issue. Season two will reportedly send its self-centered travelers somewhere other than Hawaii (Martha’s Vineyard? The Mediterranean? Capri? Greek Islands?), and there will be a whole new cast that will no doubt include some major names, which has happened for other series as they’ve grown (Game of Thrones, The Crown, Succession, which will have Alexander Skarsgård on season three).
The change in plans will make it interesting to see what category the show winds up in when awards season rolls around—will it still be a limited series? It’ll be hard enough to decide whether to call it a comedy or a drama.
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