Time to ring your concierge and make plans for another return to The White Lotus. The hit HBO drama, created by Mike White, has made waves among TV viewers for its depiction of luxury vacations that turn into psychological thrillers, as visitors to paradise can't escape the hell that is other people (often their own family members). After its breakout first season set in Hawaii, Season 2 brought viewers to Sicily with an entirely new cast and a gripping new murder mystery. So what do we know about a third installment? Spoiler alert for the Season 2 finale (opens in new tab).
Has 'The White Lotus' been renewed for Season 3?
Yes! HBO announced the show's renewal on November 18, only three episodes into its second season. The announcement came after positive reviews and viewer reaction propelled the show to become the current most popular show on HBO Max.
"Reflecting on The White Lotus’ humble, run-and-gun origin as a contained pandemic production, it’s impossible not to be awestruck by how Mike orchestrated one of the buzziest and most critically acclaimed shows," Francesca Orsi, head of HBO's drama series, said in a statement. "And yet, he’s only continued to reach new heights in season 2, which is the ultimate testament to Mike’s raw, unparalleled vision. His courage to explore the uncharted waters of the human psyche, paired with his signature irreverent humor and buoyant directing style, have us all dreaming of more vacation days at the resort we’ve come to adore."
Fans who have tuned into Season 2 following the show's runaway success may be surprised to learn that the Hawaii-based premiere season was initially pitched as a mini-series. Creator Mike White later reworked the show as an anthology, that's become must-see viewing for anyone looking for stunning landscapes and rich people behaving badly.
Where would Season 3 be set?
White has already shared some ideas for where the series could set a new White Lotus resort. While speaking to Deadline (opens in new tab) at the Season 2 premiere, White hinted that the show could head to another continent.
"We just turned in our last episode to the network yesterday, so it’s hard to think about the next race," he told the outlet. "But if we did, I think it’d be fun to maybe go to a whole different continent. You know, we did Europe, and maybe Asia, something crazy like that, that would be fun."
The showrunner also mentioned a specific country in an interview with Vulture, where he mentioned Japan as a possible location for Season 2 before he decided on Sicily.
Which of the cast would return for Season 3?
The past two seasons of The White Lotus have included large casts of Hollywood stars. The first Hawaii-set installment starred Emmy winners Murray Bartlett and Jennifer Coolidge, as well as Connie Britton, Jake Lacy, Natasha Rothwell, and Sydney Sweeney. Meanwhile, season 2 replaced the entire cast as well as the location, only bringing along Coolidge's heiress Tanya McQuoid and Jon Gries as her new husband Greg. The rest of the Sicily-bound cast included Sabrina Impacciatore, Theo James, Meghann Fahy, Aubrey Plaza, Michael Imperioli, and Tom Hollander.
Now that we know who didn't make it out of Sicily (read our breakdown (opens in new tab) if you've yet to catch up), we can say ciao to our hopes that Tanya McQuoid will be our guide through the White Lotus chain. The Blossom Circle member drowned in the Ionian Sea, leaving the show without its sole recurring character. (Yes, there is Greg, but screw Greg.) Coolidge's time on The White Lotus is over, despite White previously hinting that she could return.
Now, the question is whether Season 3 will even bring back someone from the Season 2 cast, or if that was just a temporary choice to keep fans interested for the former-miniseries' second round. The new season could work with or without a returning character, as White has now turned most of the show's viewers into faithful fans, but it would still be a fun detail. As for who should come back, I suggest one of Season 2's MVPs: Meghann Fahy (Daphne) or Simona Tabasco (Lucia).
What would Season 3 be about?
So far, each season of The White Lotus has served as its own miniseries examining the class and power dynamics among the rich. Season 1 remarked on colonialism and focused on the relationships between the hotel staff and the guests, while Season 2 depicts gender and sexual dynamics, with the guests interacting with a pair of locals. If the show does go to Japan, the show will likely include another aspect of the guest/staff dynamic, and could also maybe touch on cultural clash between Western and Eastern norms.
Now that the Season 2 finale has aired, White has given some new insight to a potential storyline for Season 3. Per Vulture (opens in new tab), the creator said in a post-mortem that a new season could explore non-Western spirituality.
"The first season we highlighted money and then the second season is sex,” White said. "I think the third season, it would be maybe a kind of satirical and funny look at death in Eastern religion and spirituality, it feels like it could be a rich tapestry to do another round at White Lotus."
With that teaser, it seems like next season really could be heading to Eastern or Southern Asia. However, it could also take place among Western practitioners who build a religion that takes inspiration from (a.k.a. appropriates) Eastern spirituality. There's a lot to explore within the possible theme.
White also has other ideas to explore for future White Lotus seasons. The creator previously shared a bit of his initial pitch for Season 2 in an interview with Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab), initially hesitating as he said, "I might still do it down the road maybe, if they give us a third season, so I don't know if I should say."
He decided to continue, saying, "Originally, it was more of like a Bilderberg conference, more about getting into some of the bigger power dynamics there. But Sicily was a totally different vibe than the idea I pitched. That didn't seem right."
To save you a Google search, the Bilderberg meeting is an annual off-the-record conference that began in 1954 and "fosters dialogue" between Europe and North America. Per the website (opens in new tab), "The group's agenda, originally to prevent another world war, is now defined as bolstering a consensus around free market Western capitalism and its interests around the globe."
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