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Working Mothers

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Maverick Ross
Maverick Ross

The White Lotus (2021) S01

His experience as a white man informs his perspectives on Quinn Mossbacher (Fred Hechinger) and Steve Zahn's Mark. In the latter, he places his struggles to atone for "the things he can't control." In the former, he taps into his experience on Survivor and his other world travels, citing a personal desire to escape a world that's "too much with us," and connect with these cultures. However, in the same breath, he places himself in Rachel's shoes, often sacrificing his principles to be a writer-for-hire

The White Lotus (2021) S01

In addition to Armond, we will get to know another employee of the White Lotus very well: Belinda (Natasha Rothwell), the manager of the spa, who specializes in pampering guests who are almost entirely white and rich. She treats them not only to spa experiences but to healing of other kinds, including patient and intimate advice.

Race certainly plays a marked role, though one that's mostly unspoken, in the power structure at the White Lotus. The fact that Belinda is Black and Tanya is white is foundational to the way they interact at every level, and to how they ultimately view each other. Paula, who is the only guest of color we meet, is also the only one of the Mossbacher party to take any interest in the staff or object to the way Hawaiian culture is appropriated by the resort as entertainment or decor. And much of the staff seems (logically enough) to be native Hawaiian and surrounded by white guests, which comes into play in one story arc.

Hiring someone whose profession is in the realm of personal care or domestic work and then transforming that bond into a personal one when (and only when) it suits you is a pattern that has haunted relationships between rich white women and women of color for decades and centuries. Exploitation doesn't always look like open cruelty; it can look like an employer refusing to respect boundaries, telling herself the relationship is one of affection and then using that affection as a cudgel or an excuse. Tanya is sweet and damaged and also awful, and that makes her much more painful to watch than someone like Olivia.

And then Paula hears Kai's back story and encourages him to break into the Mossbachers' room and steal Nicole's jewelry. She treats it as a kind of reparations, where the Mossbachers are rich white people of precisely the kind who have stolen so much from Hawaiians like Kai, and what's the harm, really? Nicole will recover easily from the loss; Kai's life might be changed for the better.

You also have Kitty and Greg as among the guests at the hotel, though as smaller characters I think their white privilege is mostly covered by the other eight. But they certainly add to the overall theme, with Kitty representing internalized misogyny and Greg the privilege of being able to spend his last years doing whatever he wants.

"The white lotus flower in all these cultures stands for rebirth and other different things," said Crawford. "It has roots in the mud, and yet is this gorgeous flower that presents itself beautifully at the surface. Also, [series creator Mike White] mentioned 'The Lotos-Eaters' poem, which is all about drifting through life and not actually integrating with things and wanting to hide from the realities of life."

The scene is beautiful, but there's still a sense of unease there. Part of that could be the inclusion of the many-holed lotus seed pods that inspire dread in those who experience trypopohobia. (Although Bashore denies this intention, he thinks it's a bonus interpretation.) 041b061a72


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