If White Lotus headed to Australia for a third season, where would it land?
What is more enjoyable than watching miserable rich people backstab, scheme and get scammed? Watching miserable rich people backstab, scheme and get scammed at a stunning resort you’d never be able to afford to see any other way, of course.
The second season of Mike White’s auteur anthology White Lotus came to its perfectly sticky end on Monday, and like a 1%er who can never be happy no matter how much I take and consume, I’m already ready for season three. In the spirit of competing to host the White Lotus, as if it’s the Olympics, I’d like to humbly put forward an Australian destination. So I’ve assessed five possible candidates based on the existence of a suitably six-star set (sorry Qualia, you’ve been banned from competition after Ticket to Paradise); narrative and thematic potential; and which characters would work best in the setting.
You’re welcome, Mike White, call me anytime. Please. Call me.
The Great Barrier Reef
The premise: Pitched as barefoot luxury, and a chance to reconnect with nature (in one of the seven natural wonders of the world, no less); Great Barrier Reef islands attract flop and droppers, and water sports fans.
The resort: While you can find four-figure-a-night accommodation dotted along the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef, only Orpheus Island has inbuilt allusions to sirens, death by snake-bite and a journey to the underworld. The clear White Lotus winner.
What could go wrong? To start with, it’s croc country. Then there’s the deadly jellyfish, the dangerous rips, and the ever-present risk of scuba-sabotage.
Cinematic call back: Age of Consent
Recurring characters: Arguably season two’s MVP, the luminous Daphne (Meghann Fahy) could always relocate that Maldives’ diving trip (ideally with a group of backstabbing sorority sisters); but I’d get a real kick out of seeing Murray Bartlett’s return to home soil as Armand’s identical twin brother.
Suitability: At first glance, it might be the most obvious choice for an Australian White Lotus, but ultimately, it would be too visually and thematically similar to season one’s island paradise. 4/10
The premise: Fabulous produce, moody-yet-beautiful natural surrounds and the chance to get cosy in your freestanding bathtub by a roaring fireplace; this is a holiday for middle-aged marrieds and intellectual types.
The resort: Saffire Freycinet, with a potential offsite visit to Mona, just for a treat.
Recurring characters: I can see Sydney Sweeney’s savagely bitchy Olivia making good on all that book-signalling from season one, and checking in for a long stay to write her first novel.
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The mood: This is Tasmania. It’s dark, it’s cruel, its history is haunting – it is obviously a gothic horror, with Sweeney as our frightened final girl.
Suitability: A cold, dark destination is not what an international audience would anticipate from an Australian vacation, which could make for a very White Lotus exercise in thwarted expectations. There’s also a fair bit of erotic potential in couples feeding each other oysters straight from the sea. 7/10
The premise: Rugged and astonishing, Australia’s far north-west is as remote as you can get. It’s a chance for you to prove yourself against a wild and unforgiving landscape, with nightly five-course meals and a private plunge pool, of course.
The resort: Most famously the filming location for Baz Luhrmann’s Australia, El Questro Homestead is the only game in town. And at over $3,000 per person, per night, it’s right in that White Lotus sweet spot.
Recurring characters: What better place for Cameron (Theo James)‘s firm of Bernie Madoff, dark-triad sharks to host their annual retreat? Perhaps there’s even a big-fish mining magnate coincidentally staying at just the same time.
Key themes: Extraction capitalism; petro-masculinity.
Cinematic call back: A visit to the nearest pub for thousands of kilometres has big Wake in Fright energy.
Suitability: This would be a radical departure from the first two seasons, bringing plenty of opportunity for jaw-dropping cinematography and an outback western mood, plus the sheer, agoraphobic terror of true isolation. In other words, an enticing tonal shift: 8/10.
The premise: Australia’s wellness capital has already made a global name for being an overly Instagrammable magnet for celebrities.
The resort: Hotels that cost more than a thousand dollars a night are surprisingly thin on the ground in the northern rivers, but fortunately, Gaia Retreat (co-founded by the late Olivia Newton-John) is here to save the day.
Recurring characters: Byron Bay is the perfect destination to reap the seeds that Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya hath sewed. Here we see Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) in full flight, running the retreat she always dreamed of. When the newly minted Greg (Jon Gries) checks in to deal with a pesky cancer recurrence, is there a chance she’ll uncover the dark secret behind his fortune? Chris Hemsworth guest-stars as himself.
The mood: The Nine Perfect Strangers we wanted but didn’t get, with a touch of Agatha Christie.
Big themes: Mortality and the limits of morality
Suitability: Viewers of Mike White’s criminally underrated Enlightened will already be aware of what this man can do with a destination like Byron Bay. Add to that the very real economic issues facing the region and you’ve got a perfect upstairs-downstairs situation, but the manor is a yoga shambala. 10/10.
The premise: White Lotus has never been set in a city before. Could Australia’s capital of culture be the first?
The resort: Melbourne’s had a few big luxury hotel openings of late and while the closest you can get to White Lotus prices is an out-of-town winery stay at the Mornington Peninsula’s achingly hip Jackalope, but their emphasis on art and wine feels a bit too niche for the world White Lotus has been building. Instead, the “premium” “resort-style” setting we’ve come to expect could be found at the shiny new Marriott, where the white lounger-lined infinity pool has views over … Melbourne’s stunning Docklands precinct.
Outrage moment: If you thought the dining choices of season two’s characters were galling …
Why does everyone at The White Lotus eat at the hotel every night? YOU'RE IN ITALY!!!!!
— Sophie Vershbow (@svershbow) December 5, 2022
… just wait until you watch season three’s guests sip their way through cups of American-style filter-coffee for breakfast at the hotel buffet every morning.
Recurring characters: Albi is still reconnecting with his Italian roots in Carlton, while Portia stalks the graffiti-lined laneways in her attempts to make it as a personal style TikToker, on the world’s least romantic honeymoon.