James Delingpole James Delingpole

Up there with Succession and Chernobyl: The White Lotus, Sky Atlantic, reviewed

Every now and then, you see a new series like this one that reminds you why you watch TV

The star turn has to be Murray Bartlett (far left) as resort manager Armond, a recovering alcoholic and drug addict who becomes deliciously, hilariously, apocalyptically unstuck. Credit: © 2021 Home Box Office, Inc.

Every now and then, you see a new series — Succession, say, or Chernobyl or To the Lake — which reminds you why you watch TV. The latest such joy is The White Lotus (Sky Atlantic), a darkly comic satirical drama created, written and directed by Mike White.

White seems to be a curious and engaging character with lots of hinterland. His father used to be a speechwriter for ‘religious right’ preachers Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson (and later came out as gay). He wrote the charming comedy School of Rock because, though not himself a rock fan, his friend Jack Black wanted an excuse to perform all his favourite songs. He was runner-up in the competitive reality TV show Survivor: David vs. Goliath. He wrote, produced, directed and starred in a 2011 comedy series called Enlightened, which HBO cancelled after two seasons due to low ratings despite critical acclaim.

An auteur, then, who likes total creative control, who won’t play the game, and isn’t afraid to go where his whims take him. This time, it’s to Hawaii and one of those scenarios with which many of us can identify (journalistic freebies, in my case): the mega expensive, ultra exclusive boutique-resort hotel.

White likes total creative control, won’t play the game, and isn’t afraid to go where his whims take him

It starts with an enticing hook: Shane (Jake Lacy), a handsome, moneyed, basic, mummy’s boy jock in a Cornell baseball cap is in a departure lounge being quizzed by a nosy couple about what we gather was the honeymoon from hell. Meanwhile, a cardboard box marked ‘human remains’ is being loaded into the hold of the aircraft. And where exactly is Shane’s bride?

We then flash back a couple of weeks and watch the cast of this disaster arriving at their luxury resort.

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