2022 has truly been the year the wealthy have been held accountable, at least in movies and TV. Between Glass Onion: A Mystery at Daggers Drawn, White Noise, and triangle of sadness, we had a ton of awesome content that forced the upper class on a traumatic vacation. The pinnacle of this was the second season of The White Lotus, which moved the miniseries to a luxurious new location in Italy. Unfortunately for the characters, it had more in common with the Italian landscape of The Talented Mr. Ripley than he did with Under the Tuscan sun. As with the first season, the end of this journey is teased at the very beginning, and it’s violent.
The two seasons of The White Lotus take place at individual locations within a luxury resort chain. A multitude of guests (most of whom are incredibly wealthy) interact with the staff and local residents, only to begin to bicker and bring up past issues. While the show’s brilliance stems from the writer/director’s inventive storytelling Mike White, it doesn’t hurt that the show has the budget and scale of an HBO production. In order to make the series as authentic as possible, White and his production team used several real-life locations over the two seasons.
The White Lotus was critically acclaimed due to its satire’s closeness to reality, and the credibility extends to the filming locations themselves. The Real Four Seasons locations were used in both seasons to replace the incumbent White Lotus chain. However, creative design work on the part of White’s team helped transform these true destination locations into the series’ haunting environments. It’s certainly the type of series that can make you doubt your vacation plans.
Season 1 filming locations
The first season of The White Lotus takes place in the Hawaiian resort, decorated and designed to reflect local cultural practices (or at least how they are perceived by tourists); there is a particularly entertaining story where the hotel manager Armond (Murray Bartlett) and brutal guest Shane Patton (Jacques Lacy) get into an argument about the “Pineapple Room”. In fact, the Four Seasons Maui has one-bedroom suites that overlook Wailea Beach and cost over $9,000 a night.
White had become interested in telling a story set in Hawaii after filming episodes of his show Enlightened. He said that “the colonial legacy is still a living issue” and that he learned more about the annexation of Hawaii by the United States in 1898 and the lack of self-determination granted to native groups through His experience. It is a central theme of the first season of The White Lotus; White found that “Hawaii is a very heavenly and idyllic place,” but its economy is dominated by tourists and military contractors who are largely unaware of the problems of American imperialism.
Ironically, Season 1 was filmed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the tourism industry was facing many setbacks. This gave the production designer Laura Fox the opportunity to spend time re-imagining the artwork, settings, and decor of each piece featured in the series; The White Lotus fans enjoyed parsing out the background details of the hidden Easter eggs, and Fox herself compared the hotel’s subtle threat to The brilliant.
Season 2 filming locations
Between assassination attempts, mafia, family conflict and beautiful Italian landscapes, The White Lotus: Sicily had a lot in common with The Godfather. Similar to Francis Ford CoppolaA 1972 crime classic, Season 2 was filmed in Italy. The Palazzo San Domenico, Taormina represents the seaside resort of the series. Additionally, White uses several local wonders, including the Ionian Sea, the Greek Theater at Teatro Antico di Taormina, and the active volcano Mount Etna, which erupts in the latest episode, “Arrivederci.”
Given that The White Lotus: Sicily focuses on issues of colonialism, it makes sense that the series was filmed in a location with a complex history. The Four Seasons Resort in Season 2 was once a 14th-century Dominican convent, but was converted into a hotel in 1896. Over its storied history, the resort has hosted such well-known figures as Oscar Wilde, Audrey Hepburn, Elisabeth Taylor, and Sophia Loren. The hotel underwent an expensive restoration when it was acquired by the Four Seasons chain.
Additional filming took place at Lumina studios in Rome, but the sequence where the Di Grasso family visits the Castello degli Schiavi coastal town of Fiumefreddo was filmed on location in Sicily. Like Bert (F. Murray Abraham) note, this is where The Godfather was shot. Other Sicilian locations used in Season 2 include the Palazzo Ducezio, the town of Noto, the capital Palermo, and the coastal town of Cefalù.
Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) refers to how she dreams of spending a day looking like Monica Vittithe famous classic movie star of Michelangelo Antonioni1960 masterpiece the adventure; Ironically, the adventure filmed part of his ending sequence in Noro. Noto’s baroque architecture was also used in the filming of the recent musical remake of Cyrano featuring Pierre Dinklage and Haley Bennett. By filming on location, White was able to minimize production costs thanks to tax credits given to foreign productions.
Where will season 3 be filmed?
Whereas The White Lotus was originally intended to be a standalone miniseries, the overwhelmingly positive reception and acclaim inspired White to use the anthology format to create another episode. Amid the buzz surrounding Season 2, HBO has confirmed that the series has been renewed for another season. There haven’t been any details about the return of the cast members, but based on the Season 2 finale, we can guess that Tanya won’t be among them.
Although filming has yet to begin, White teased that he wanted to explore “death and Eastern religion and spirituality.” Considering that the series has already ventured into an American state and a European resort town, creating a new episode set in Asia would certainly allow the series to go in a different direction.
The first two seasons of The White Lotus are now available to stream on HBO Max.