‘The White Lotus:’ Mike White Wants To Tackle Something “A Little More Celestial” Next Season

Mike White may feel bad about it, but he always knew that Jennifer Coolidge wasn’t checking out of The White Lotus: Sicily alive. The creator, director and writer of the critically acclaimed HBO series dropped by a special bonus episode of Still Watching to deep dive on the White Lotus season finale, including his bold decision to kill off fan favorite, Tanya McQuoid. 

“Her last line in the first season was, ‘I’ve had all these treatments. I’ve tried every treatment in the world, and death is the last immersive experience I haven’t tried,'” White tells Still Watching co-hosts Richard Lawson and Chris Murphy. “It kind of started from there, just like, ‘Well, maybe it’d be funny if we brought her back, that she would die.’ Not funny, but well… yeah, funny. And then I got to Italy, and it was Sicily—the mythology and the opera and the idea of the kind of tragic heroine. Tanya seems to fit the mold of that. So, I started building the whole season around that idea that maybe she would die.”

As for the episode’s other shocking reveal—that Cameron (Theo James) and Ethan (Will Sharpe) were roommates at… Yale— White claims that he meant no disrespect by it. “Oh no,” White exclaimed when he was informed that Twitter was lit up by the mention of Yale. “It’s funny because actually it wasn’t even scripted, I don’t think. Theo wanted to add something, and he was like, ‘Well, where did they go to school?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ I was just looking,  and I was like, ‘Probably Yale, right?’ So yeah, I’m not trying to say anything about Yale. I love Yale.“

And while season two of White’s Emmy-winning series has officially come to an end, he’s already got a few ideas of where he wants to go and what he wants to tackle in season three.  “We are going to scout in Asia and look at countries there,” he tells Vanity Fair. “My instinct is that maybe it has something to do with spirituality. Eastern versus Western religion or Western people in an Eastern culture. Maybe after sex it would be nice to have something that’s a little more celestial or something that’s a little more out of the carnal, I guess. But I don’t know. I have to beg off to be honest because I don’t really know.”

Listen to Mike White’s full Still Watching interview below, and find a partial transcript of White’s interview as well.


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The way that Tanya goes is so hilarious and devastating. She almost gets out. She gets a big Godfather-esque set piece where she murders all these gays. And then she sort of, as you said on the wrap-up on HBO, she sort of “derps” into the water. It’s a derpy death. Can you talk to us about why you decided to have her go in that specific way?

Well, I was like I don’t want her to actually be murdered. It just felt too grim. Although, I think we could have gone that direction too. But I just was like it should be kind of larger than life, just her shooting her way through that boat. It just felt like it was so on brand for her—I hate that phrase, but yeah—it was on brand for her where she’s like, yeah, just the derpiest way to go. She actually makes it past the peril, and she just takes herself out.

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