Sunday, May 26, 2024

HBO’s Media Darling Series, “The White Lotus,” Heads to Finale with Critics Raves But Middling Ratings


The media loves HBO’s “The White Lotus.” It’s become the top topic among media writers and on the TwitterVerse, a clubhouse for people who like edgy, ironic series that are also a tad unpleasant.

Those people can’t get enough of Mike White’s six part satirical soap opera starring Jennifer Coolidge, Steve Zahn, Connie Britton and Murray Bartlett. So much so that HBO has renewed the series for another round with new characters and a new setting.

But the ratings tellĀ  a different story. The good news is, they’ve risen every week fo five weeks. First week brought 420,000 linear HBO viewers. This past Sunday saw 541,000. They are middling numbers but at least they grow and never recede.

On the other hand, the key demo ratings go up and down. Last week fell back to 0.11 after rising briefly the week before with 0.14. Even though three teens are among the featured cast, young people aren’t swarming to “The White Lotus.” It’s definitely a show for adults above 25, maybe above 35.

One thing that Mike White and his team should consider for the next round: this series has improved slowly and incrementally. It’s taken a long time to peel back the characters’ personas, back stories, and plots. “The White Lotus” has been more subtle and leisurely than, say, “Mare of Easttown” or “The Undoing.” The episodes don’t to get to a point quickly.

So we’ll see what happens this Sunday, what kind of conclusion this all comes to, and if the audience finds it satisfying. HBO may have an issue with Season 2 if none of the original characters return. We’re just starting to love them. It would be a shame to say goodbye forever!


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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