Admittedly I’m late to the party (hello have you met me?), but between last night and this morning I binged White Lotus Season One in it’s entirety.
I know people who are Meh about this show. I, however, consumed it like candy, simultaneously cringing and laughing out loud to the point of annoying both the dog and my daughter.
Anyone who’s worked in hospitality will tell you this show watches like a fact-based documentary. I spent most of the 90s living in Hawaii. As an employee at a 5-Star hotel, I recall at least a half-dozen needy solo travelers carrying the ashes of someone with whom their relationship was complicated.
The story literally unfolded the same every time: they spend a week clinging to the walls, in tears, over-sharing their privilege-problems and ash-scattering plans with every $10/hr hotel employee whose job it is to appear emotionally available enough to listen while somehow simultaneously spending 10 hours a day on their feet delivering expected, impeccable service.
In this complex dynamic, guests believe the distraction of beautiful surroundings and the illusion of belonging that comes with attentive service will work this time – that they will somehow achieve the catharsis they are seeking and be free of the heartache they carry.
It rarely does. Because this type of freedom is temporary.
And on the employee side of things, whew, so much to unpack here. On more than one occasion, we were still rocked by emotional whiplash as a guest was halfway across the Pacific, leaving behind a mess seemingly without any awareness of their impact.
True story, too, are the dead-eyed staff who stumbled into hospitality as a temporary gig in their 20s; who still find themselves hotel employees two decades later as a result of inertia or masochism or lack of options or some combo of the three. Veterans in the biz can spot The Lifers: The plastered-on smiles that barely disguise the indignity of the service industry and skillful gaslighting as a coping mechanism for enduring years of blatant classism (insert all of the isms really) and abuse at the hands of guests that has somehow become socially acceptable.
Each episode, Armond fucking with that entitled douche-canoe who wears his Cornell cap bro-style (I could google name, too lazy) will be a series of deja-vu’s for anyone on a resort payroll. I’ve seen it happen. It’s hilarious. It’s tragic. It’s probably one of the few illusions of control for someone who feels like a punching bag on the daily. That, and addiction, which runs rampant in this industry.
And then there’s these true-story guest dynamics:
👉 Couples on their honeymoon where one spouse’s skin is already crawling: Check.
👉 The family at the breakfast table whose sadness and dysfunction couldn’t be more obvious under their tight expressions: Check. Check. Check.
So they book the suite, desperately seeking intimacy and connection they hope a vacation together will provide. Instead, dinners are awkward, togetherness feels forced and the lack of personal space of a hotel rooms result in teeth-grinding denial: Nothing’s wrong. Everything’s fine.
Like the White Lotus characters, they flee – either physically remove themselves or stay physically present, but escape into their coping mechanism of sex, addictions, silent-treatment or lashing out.
I point to all of these plot-lines for this: Nothing we reach for outside of ourself results in contentment in any meaningful or lasting way.
No luxury hotel stay will do it. No achievement, or job promotion. No spa day, no substance or purchase. They’re all this: A temporary bandaid.
Trauma is layered and complicated and personal, this I know.
And I’m not a professional, but the majority of progress toward healing I’ve witnessed over my 52 years comes from a willingness to stay present, feel discomfort, be vulnerable, and stay with undesirable emotions. Sometimes over and over again for years.
Yoga is not a quick fix or a guaranteed solution. But we at Twist Yoga can provide an hour on your mat where you can feel supported to explore being comfortable with yourself and not flee for a small portion of your day. It’s a start. Or an ending. You can book here.
And also: Go on the vacation if you can, the experiences and memories are priceless. I’m a fan. And y’all: There are plenty of happy guest stories, we in the industry noticed those too. They just don’t make for great TV.
Finally. I haven’t watched Season 2 yet but have an addictive personality. I’ll blow through it by tomorrow. I invite any/all show discourse; get into my DMs plz.