Almost everybody’s getting busy on this season of The White Lotus, but is anybody making love? When you look at who’s actually savoring their sexual encounters, you learn a lot about who’s thriving, who’s suffering, and who just might end up dying. In the interest of public service, we’re ranking the season’s sexually active characters based on how much they’re enjoying themselves in the first two episodes, “Ciao” and “Italian Dream.”
These rankings are essentially a race to the bottom, since almost everyone’s got some sort of hang-up in the bedroom. Even in a crowded field, however, Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) and Greg (Jon Gries) are the undisputed losers. In Episode 1, they get into a fight in the middle of making love, and in Episode 2, when they’re supposed to be having a romantic adventure that enacts Tanya’s fantasy of living like an Italian movie star, Greg bluntly announces he’s flying home the next day for work.
This leads to another fight that includes him bitterly mentioning their prenup and the fact that Tanya discards people like it’s nothing. That night, when they could be having make-up sex, Greg is out on the balcony instead, having a secret phone call with someone he’s flying home to see. He says he loves that person, and as Tanya’s watching him through the window, it’s clear she suspects something. And to think they had such a nice time together last season!
They aren’t vicious to each other like Tanya and Greg, but Ethan (Will Sharpe) and Harper (Aubrey Plaza) aren’t exactly the last of the red hot lovers. In fact, their marriage has gone ice cold, with Ethan rejecting all of Harper’s advances and sneaking off to pleasure himself instead. Their whole relationship feels like something out of a sad European film from the 1970s, where the cerebral characters are forever turned away from each other in bed, vainly waiting for a partner to reach out a hand. But like Harper says during an argument, at least they still talk to each other. If they both live to the end of their vacation, then they may be able to work it out.
Nobody’s saying it’s healthy for Dominic (Michael Imperioli) to have a three-way with Lucia (Simona Tobasco) and Mia (Beatrice Grannò). Considering that Dominic tries to stop them from entering his room by explaining that his sex addiction is ruining his family, it really is a terrible idea for them to sleep together. But that said, once they all strip down and get in the hot tub, they at least seem to have a good time.
We shouldn’t be surprised, though, if they all regret this encounter very soon. Mia doesn’t really want to be a sex worker, for one thing, and when Dominic finds out how many extravagant purchases she and Lucia have charged to his room, he might flip out. But that’s Episode 3’s problem. For now, they’re popping Champagne and laughing about it.
Literally speaking, Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) and Albie (Adam DiMarco) aren’t having sex… yet. “Italian Dream” ends with their first, tentative kiss after they spend a day hiking around with Albie’s family and an evening having a nice little dinner in the same restaurant where Tanya and Greg are yelling at each other. But the kiss really is sweet. They seem to be at the beginning of a summer fling, and who doesn’t love those? Things could get weird if Tanya decides she’s jealous that her assistant is having more fun than she is, or if Albie’s horndog grandfather Bert (F. Murray Abraham) keeps making uncomfortable remarks about Portia’s appearance. But maybe these kids will make it anyway.
Cameron (Theo James) seems like a creeper and/or a scumbag, considering that after he exposed himself to Harper in Episode 1, he snuck up and grabbed her in the ocean during Episode 2. For now, though, he’s also having a great time with his wife Daphne (Meghann Fahy). They pretty much get along, and they have regular, loud sex that they both seem to enjoy. It’s good to be them, especially compared to everybody else.
Mark Blankenship has been writing about arts and culture for twenty years, with bylines in The New York Times, Variety, Vulture, Fortune, and many others. You can hear him on the pop music podcast Mark and Sarah Talk About Songs.
TOPICS: The White Lotus, HBO, Adam DiMarco, Aubrey Plaza, Beatrice Grannó, F. Murray Abraham, Haley Lu Richardson, Jennifer Coolidge, Jon Gries, Meghann Fahy, Michael Imperioli, Simona Tobasco, Theo James, Will Sharpe