Sex, Lies, and Meghan Markle: All the Buzz at the ‘White Lotus’ Season 2 Premiere

Jennifer Coolidge, who won an Emmy for her performance as tone-deaf heiress Tanya, makes another appearance on The White Lotus, this time in Italy, for the second installment of HBO’s critically acclaimed social satire.

“A White Lotus [season] two—I did not see this coming at all. I originally didn’t plan on taking the role when we did the first season, so what do I know?” said Coolidge at the series’ lavish premiere in Hollywood on Thursday night. “But I promise the new season is worth your time. It’s funny, and Mike [White], who created the show, has written stories you’ve never seen before. For me, to get a part like this and play it twice in two rounds, I’m the luckiest girl. I never expected anything from this job, and it has turned out to be the greatest gift of my life.”

Coolidge and her costar Jon Gries, who plays Tanya’s beau, Greg, are the only two cast members reprising their roles from the first season. Their characters are now married after meeting at the Hawaiian resort, and they’ve decided to visit another of the chain’s properties for a trip. Tanya is no longer grieving the death of her mother, but is teetering on the edge of a broken heart, thanks to Greg.

“Tanya is still oblivious and confused and even more insecure now. She’s trying to find a person to fulfill the emptiness,” Coolidge said. “She has been ripped off. Nobody really loved her, and that’s not a fun way to live. We all just want relationships to work out. We all want someone who really likes us, but relationships are really, really difficult, especially in White Lotus [season] two. Mike talks about that the most—the difficulty of all of us having to face our demons and how hard life can be even for the very, very rich. Tanya hasn’t really benefited much from her massive wealth. It hasn’t brought a lot of joy or real love for her, and she’s searching for that love.”

White, who recently won directing and writing Emmys for the show’s first season, continues to helm the series and delivers more dark humor and harsh social commentary in the second installment, which begins streaming on HBO Max on October 30. A new ensemble cast joins Coolidge for the seven-episode season that takes place at the Sicily property of the White Lotus luxury hotel chain, and as with season one, the main story line will center on a group of wealthy travelers and the local hotel staff catering to them. Instead of the host-guest divide and power dynamic, this season focuses on sex and jealousy.

“Season two of The White Lotus is on aphrodisiacs,” said F. Murray Abraham, who plays Bert Di Grasso, an elderly man with old-fashioned, sexist views who is visiting Italy with his Hollywood producer son, Dominic (Michael Imperioli), and college graduate grandson, Albie (Adam DiMarco). “This season is all about sex, sexual jealousy, sexual politics, adultery, and monogamy. These topics of sex are real problems in the world for many people, and we don’t shy away from it. The theme of dated gender archetypes is prevalent with my character and the three generations of boys, with Michael and Adam. It’s a lot, but the show is funny too.”

Imperioli’s character has recently gone through a bitter breakup with his wife due to his sex addiction and multiple affairs with other women. He attempts to keep his family together with a trip to Sicily to learn about their family history.

“My character’s addiction is destroying his marriage. It’s something that he’s compartmentalized, and it’s really come to the forefront, to the surface,” said Imperioli. “He’s got to deal with it now. It’s not an easy time, but he still manages. There’s still humor found within the darkness of his journey, and that’s what makes Mike’s writing brilliant. I thought, Is this going to be some cynical statement about rich people? But he was able to show so many different facets of human nature, and brought humanity and compassion to these people and made them multidimensional. It could have easily been easy targets for cynicism, but he has a lot of fun with it. There’s no other writer like him.”

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