It's hard to pick out which show has swept up viewers this summer, but White Lotus has had one of the noisiest debuts and finales on HBO Max. Everyone on social media has been talking about the score, the incredible acting, and the absolute cringiest comedy in recent memory. The show takes on family, privilege, colonialism, and plunge pools. 

Every week it seemed like some aspect of the show sparked a debate. The power was in the characters, all of whom had their own bright spots and problems, some direr than others. You could find empathy in their situations and hate them for the outcomes. And the show's writer, director, and producer, Mike White, is responsible.

Let's look at these characters in more detail.

Spoilers for White Lotus to follow. 

In a recent interview with Vulture, White talked about how much of him is in these characters and who he identifies with the most.

The show opens with a character returning home from his honeymoon, and dangles that someone on his vacation dies. We flashback a week earlier and meet the cast. That emotional hook at the start keeps the audience on the edge of their seats as every episode ramps up the tension. 

White told Vulture, "I’m a type of creator who’s had good critical responses sometimes, but I’ve struggled to get people to show up to watch. Having a little hook—I knew I wanted somebody to die anyway, so it was like, 'Let’s lead with that as a hook.'"

That hook helped the show sustain a lot of the plot. We were waiting for all six episodes to see who would die.

But in a way, it felt inevitable. From the moment we meet Armond, we see he's spiraling. There's some nuance to who he is, the ID inside him unleashed by falling back into drugs and alcohol. 

Sydney-sweeney-brittany-o-grady_wide_white_lotus_0'The White Lotus'Credit: HBO Max

There's a reason for that depth of character.

White says, "I guess that was the character I relate to the most. I sometimes feel like I’m in the service industry, even though I’m not. Dancing for the man—I find myself doing that a lot. Sometimes I’m full in, and I want to be a white-glove-service screenwriter: do great work but also be friendly, a 'give the suits what they want' kind of person. And then when I feel like they turn on me or I’m not respected or something bad happens, then I’m like, Fuck this place! I also felt there was something very touching about this being his last great dinner service. Like, 'That was the best seating ever!' There’s something so puny [about it], but also he’s a performer. There’s nothing left to say! It’s like hasta la vista, there’s nowhere to go from there."

This is such an interesting concept. Hearing how White sees himself in Hollywood and the characters is a refreshing take on these kinds of shows.

As the series' only writer and director, we get the sense that everything is seen through his lens. All of these characters have pieces of the people he's met and the people he's afraid he could become.

When it comes to the title of the show, White Lotus, White talked about how that comes from a Tennyson poem, “The Lotos-Eaters,” that Armond actually quotes in the series' penultimate episode. 

He says, "The title was there before I started writing. The idea of—and again, this is something experienced, ugh. But as someone who’s made money in my 20-plus years in the business, you look at yourself and you think—I feel like this is why I don’t judge Rachel. I came out, so I felt like I was going to always swim upstream. I came out with so much idealism about the purpose of art, the purpose of what I was going to do. I have tried to stay that person, and I feel like, Have I fallen asleep in the poppy fields? Am I a [lotus]-eater? Yeah, I took The Emoji Movie. It is not critically acclaimed. The Emoji Movie. I tried to get the money for that house in Hawaii. I’ve tried to justify some of it by being like, Oh, I didn’t come from money. I’ll get my mom out of debt. At some point, it’s hard to justify continuing to chase the dragon. I wanted to explore that in a way that I felt like—at least for me, and it may not feel that way for the audience—but at least for me, it felt like I was exposing something of my own [lotus]-eating."

This was such an interesting show, and it's fun to think where they can take the second season, which will feature a new location and a new cast. Time will tell where it goes, but this iteration is here for us just to marvel at where we've been and to think about how we can make sure we live our lives in a way that never lets us become these characters. 

Let me know what you think of the show in the comments.