Even in the most beautiful places on earth, marriages are tested. Some instantly break but some merely crack, making way for other troubles to creep in. In the second season of Mike White’s The White Lotus, Will Sharpe’s Ethan and Aubrey Plaza’s Harper find themselves confronting problems in their marriage that they both assumed belonged to other couples. Sharpe’s quiet, cautious Ethan begins to unravel as he grapples with honesty, desire, and his own personal loneliness.
When Ethan and Harper arrive in Italy, he is amused by his wife’s vocal opinion on their friends Cameron and Daphne (Theo James and Meghann Fahy, respectively). Harper compares the two couples constantly as if she is trying to win an unspoken contest when it comes to happiness, and Ethan lets her voice her concerns before challenging her on her borderline obsessive takes. Any time the couples sit down to eat with one another, the conversations begin light before steering into more topical and concerning territory, and those scenes were something that Sharpe was interested in exploring.
Are all men destined to behave badly, or did Ethan unwittingly sign his soul away when he sold his company? Will he become someone like Cameron who seems to embrace the excesses of what money has to offer, or can Ethan gain control of his own choices and, at least, stand by his decisions? It remains to be seen, but Sharpe reveled in the ambiguities in White’s writing.
We can tell ourselves that we will never be like the characters on The White Lotus, because we all don’t have the means to go to these lavish getaways. With Sharpe’s Ethan, however, we see how someone can be transformed by being adjacent to indiscretion. Once those floodgates open, you either sink or swim, and you might be surprised by the decisions you make.
The White Lotus: Sicily is streaming now on Max.