the white lotus

If You Loved The White Lotus, Here Are Six Shows to Watch Next

A biting satire series from creator Mike White (Enlightened, School of Rock), White Lotus covers one eventful week at an exclusive Hawaiian luxury resort, where conflict brews between the spoiled rich guests — who are all going through personal crises that money might not be able to fix — and the stressed-out workers who have to cater to them.  It just wrapped up its first season on HBO as an unexpected smash for the cable-streamer, with almost two million people watched Sunday’s finale on cable or HBO Max, according to Variety. It became the kind of word-of-mouth hit that HBO limited series so often become (though it’s technically not exactly a limited series anymore; it’s been renewed for Season 2, with a different cast in a new location). 

Obviously, something about The White Lotus is resonating with people. It might be White’s extraordinarily perceptive writing that renders the characters awful in fully realized, extremely specific ways. It might be the cathartic depiction of the 1% as selfish jerks who have varying levels of awareness of their own privilege, but a uniform disinterest in changing their behavior. It might be Jennifer Coolidge’s heartbreaking and hilarious performance as deeply troubled rich lady Tanya McQuoid. Or it might be the show’s tonal tightrope walk between compassion and contempt. The adjective that best describes the show’s sense of humor is “sardonic.” 

Whatever it is, it’s addictive, and you’re probably going to want more of it as you wait for Season 2. Here are six shows to watch next if you loved The White Lotus. (Not coincidentally, most of them are available to stream on HBO Max, because no one else can do nuanced shows about unlikable characters better than HBO.) 

the white lotus


Where to stream: HBO Max

No other show is closer to The White Lotus in tone than Enlightened, because they were both written by Mike White, who writes like no one else. Enlightened was co-created by Laura Dern, who stars as Amy Jellicoe, a Southern California woman who has a very public, very embarrassing nervous breakdown at work. She goes to a rehab and comes back determined to share her newfound spiritual awakening with everyone in her life – and get her job back. Amy is an incredible character that only White and Dern could have created, a raw bundle of neuroses sincerely trying to make the world a better place. 

Enlightened has a reputation as an underrated and under-seen classic, but hopefully the success of The White Lotus leads to more people discovering this hidden gem. 

the white lotus


Where to stream: HBO Max

If you’re looking for another sardonic show with compellingly awful rich characters, look no further than HBO’s Succession. The acidicly funny dramedy grew from a cult hit in Season 1 into an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy-winning smash in Season 2. It’s about the Roys, a multi-billionaire family led by aging, cold-hearted patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox), who has not named a successor to his media empire. So his conniving, emotionally stunted adult children Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Siobhan (Sarah Snook), and Roman (Kieran Culkin) battle to be daddy’s favorite.

The White Lotus covers such similar thematic territory about the spiritually corrosive effects of wealth that it kind of feels like it’s meant to tide fans over until Season 3 of Succession, which has been long-delayed due to the pandemic. 

the white lotus

Big Little Lies

Where to stream: HBO Max

There probably aren’t a lot of people who have watched The White Lotus but not Big Little Lies. But if you didn’t have a TV in 2017, and you loved watching rich people behave badly in a beautiful setting on The White Lotus, you need to check out the first season of HBO’s majestically soapy drama (you don’t need to watch Season 2). 

Both shows open with a flash-forward which discloses that a character is dead — leaving out the who, why, or how — and then flashes back to show us how the story got there. And they both interrogate how wealth, privilege, and whiteness insulate people from understanding how they affect other people. 

the white lotus

The Comeback 

Where to stream: HBO Max

If your favorite part of The White Lotus is the cringe comedy of people who don’t realize how sad they are, you could next watch The Comeback, a dark comedy that ran for two seasons on HBO almost a decade apart, one in 2005 and one in 2014. 

Lisa Kudrow, who created the show with Sex and the City’s Michael Patrick King, stars as Valerie Cherish, a sitcom actress who never followed up her one successful role and fell out of the limelight. She lands a role on a new sitcom, and as a condition of the role, she has to document her comeback on a reality show, also called The Comeback. It’s a merciless showbiz satire about a complicated character you’ll feel a lot of contradictory feelings about.    

the white lotus
Saeed Adyani/Netflix

Dead to Me

Where to stream: Netflix

If you just want to watch another well-made dark comedy series with great performances and a tragicomic secret that arches over the season, check out this Netflix two-hander starring Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini, both of whom earned Emmy nominations for Season 2, along with a nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series. 

Applegate plays a real estate agent Jen whose husband was recently killed in a hit-and-run and begins attending a grief support group, where she meets Judy, played by Cardellini. They become fast friends, but Judy is hiding a secret: She killed Jen’s husband.

the white lotus


Where to stream: HBO Max

This is admittedly a rather counterintuitive pick, but there’s a good reason why fans of The White Lotus might like this sexy drama series about young investment bankers trying to secure a permanent position at a prestigious financial institution in London. Both shows are fascinated by wealth and class, privilege and entitlement. They’re alternately empathetic toward and repulsed by the wealthy people they follow, and interested in the stories they tell themselves to justify their place at the top of society’s pecking order. 

Industry’s chilly, gray London setting is about as far from Hawaii as you can get, and there isn’t quite as much interpersonal psychodrama, but it’s a witty, well-observed counterpoint to The White Lotus.

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