Troubled in Paradise

NPR’s Terry Gross interviews Mike White on his fantastic HBO series The White Lotus. White writes damaged characters, scraped with all the asphalt of our own humanity. They careen through their lives inflicting emotional violence on one another. They feel misunderstood, they judge one another, all to disservice a broader narrative. It sounds ugly but it’s profoundly immersive writing.

I think the show tries to get at this a little bit, too, in a macro [way] that when you’re wealthy and you don’t have situational problems that have to do with money, then your problems become existential. You have all of the tools to figure out your life, and you can’t figure out your life. If you’re in some gloomy, urban, dystopic spot, you can always say, “Oh, it’s my surroundings that are making me depressed.”

But if you’re in paradise and you feel like something’s missing you’re melancholy or you’re tortured, you know it’s not the ambient nature of what’s going on — it’s something in you.

Mike White, “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross