The second season of “The White Lotus” is quickly proving to be just as addictive, seductive and thought-provoking as the first. If you haven’t been watching, you’re gonna want to make a date with your couch and HBO Max ASAP. There are plenty of spoilers ahead, so bookmark this page until you’re caught up. Don’t worry; we’ll wait.

As with the first season, the show centers around an ensemble cast of characters on vacation at a White Lotus resort. The first season was set in Hawaii; this one is in Sicily. The guests, not surprisingly, are mostly privileged, white people who are either blindly unaware of their privilege or swimming in shame because of it. Or maybe some combination of both. 

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Like the first season, there are so many topics to dig into and debate—class, racial inequities, power dynamics, and gender roles. Most notable in season two are gender dynamics, sex and infidelity, and the different ways women have of dealing with all of this. 

Played by Aubrey Plaza, Harper is a no-nonsense attorney who’s married to Ethan, a tech guy who recently struck it rich. The couple is on vacation with Ethan’s “friend” from college, Cameron, and his wife Daphne. (I think we can all agree that Cameron is the absolute worst.) 

The different ways Harper and Daphne approach gender dynamics and marriage are apparent right from the start. Oozing toxic positivity, Daphne lives with proverbial rose-colored glasses on and abides by the philosophy of “do what you gotta do to make yourself feel better about it.”

Harper, on the other hand, is fierce and judge-y. She immediately sees through the fake sparkle of Daphne and Cameron’s marriage. Her mood can generally be summed up as “not here for it,” and she won’t pretend that she is.

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While Daphne is certainly mysterious with all her secrets (most notably, the paternity of her children—what?!), I’m definitely more drawn to Harper. 

With sarcasm and cynicism, Harper embodies that simmering rage so many women feel. She sees the world as it is—and she’s freaking angry about it. She’s sick of entitled men like Cameron. She’s tired of bearing witness to a brutal world filled with injustices. She resents Daphne’s “good vibes only” mentality. She’s suspicious of Daphne and Cameron’s shiny marriage—though she’s envious of it too. 

For much of the show, Harper is portrayed as a bitter woman who would be happier if she could just lighten up—and maybe have more sex with her husband. After all, isn’t this the bill of goods most women are sold? Meanwhile, the brutal world keeps on spinning. Relationships struggle. Jobs are demanding. We can’t unsee all of the injustices we are incapable of fixing. So yeah, we’re good and mad—because we have reason to be. 

So much of Harper resonates with me. She wants to have fun; she wants to be fun. She wants to connect with her husband. She wants to relax a little. She wants a break from the unrelenting stress she feels. But she can’t fake it (until she can and does, with the help of lots of wine).

Much like Harper, we viewers spend so much time judging, pitying and envying Daphne that we don’t realize she is far more sinister than meets the eye. She’s the epitome of a privileged rich white lady who “goes with the flow” because she benefits from it immensely. She spends so much time reassuring herself and the world that she’s “not a victim” that she doesn’t even realize that she’s victimizing others in the process (including her kids—check out the bombshell toward the end of episode 5). She isn’t just full of secrets; she’s manipulative and conniving. Her “good vibes only” mentality perpetuates a world in which people like her thrive and people like Harper are labeled as bitter shrews.

The truth is, as much as I relate to and empathize with Harper, sometimes I find myself thinking, What are you so angry about? You’re on vacation in a gorgeous location. Maybe you could try to enjoy yourself? I don’t want to be as rigid and angry as Harper any more than I’d want to be as vapid and manipulative as Daphne. 

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Like Harper, I too am incapable of hiding my feelings and I wear my heart on my sleeve. I feel the weight of the world profoundly. I have been consumed by the simmering rage. I feel too serious sometimes, and I have longed for that carefree (albeit naïve) lifestyle that the Daphnes of the world can wear so easily. 

I fear that Harper’s storyline is going in a direction that will disappoint me and Daphne’s is going to take a turn that will delight me more than it should. I’m praying that Harper doesn’t sleep with Cameron—gross!—but this is “The White Lotus” so who knows.

What is certain is that with its satirical dark comedy, “The White Lotus” has once again succeeded in pressing us to examine those parts of ourselves, our lives and the world around us that we might not see or want to acknowledge. At the same time, with its extreme (and unrealistic to most of us) dysfunction and toxicity (something both Harper’s and Daphne’s marriages share), “The White Lotus” also makes us feel better about ourselves, our lives and the world around us.

“It’s like we’re all entertaining each other while the world burns,” Harper says at breakfast in the first episode.