‘The White Lotus’ on HBO: COVID-19 Was the Reason They Made the Show, but Fans Would Never Even Know It

HBO executives approached director, Mike White, to create the new limited series, The White Lotus on HBO, purely because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) parameters. However, while watching the ensemble cast featuring Jennifer Coolidge, Connie Britton, and Alexandra Daddario, viewers cannot tell it’s inside a coronavirus bubble.

The White Lotus on HBO actors Murray Bartlett, Jolene Purdy, Natasha Rothwell, and Lukas Gage waving
‘The White Lotus’ on HBO actors Murray Bartlett, Jolene Purdy, Natasha Rothwell, and Lukas Gage | Mario Perez/HBO

‘The White Lotus’ filming location

Mike White’s new limited series, The White Lotus, follows travelers through a one-week vacation on the golden sandy beaches of Hawaii. Similar to Mare of Easttown, the new HBO miniseries is true to its location. Like Kate Winslet flew to suburban Philadelphia, the cast of The White Lotus was filmed in Maui, Hawaii. The six-part series premiered on Jun 11, 2021, and took over the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. According to Maui News, director Mike White filmed for eight weeks in Wailea, Maui, from late October to mid-December 2020.  

‘The White Lotus’ on HBO happened because of COVID-19

In August 2020, HBO executives asked White to create a new miniseries to be filmed very quickly and only at one location. The global pandemic caused the shutdown of numerous sets, so the producers searched for another way to create television. Luckily, White jumped on the opportunity, and The White Lotus was born for HBO. 

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“I’ll do whatever,” he recalled telling HBO to Vanity Fair. “I want to work. I just can’t sit and watch the world burn!”

White felt like he was on a game show. The executives gave him the parameters of the new series, but nothing else. So, the cast and crew shot The White Lotus for HBO in a coronavirus bubble. However, They didn’t let the masks and protocols come through in the series at all. 

The cast and crew felt trapped in Hawaii

Although the filming location for The White Lotus on HBO was glamorous, there’s something unsettling about being stuck somewhere. The one thing that did carry over to the series was that trapped feeling. The whole cast and crew lived at the resort together for the entire eight weeks of filming.

“We could not leave the hotel,” White added in the Vanity Fair interview. “So it spilled over to the vibe of the show, which is sort of that feeling of ‘You’re on vacation, but why do you feel trapped?'”

The claustrophobia that fell through into the series turned out to be precisely what White wanted. The director of the six-episode series intended it to be a “tropical anxiety attack.” It is a satire comedy with dark twistiness in every episode.

He added that he chose the music, so it gave the feeling of “pretty people sitting next to swimming pools — but you feel like there’s going to be a human sacrifice at some point.”

The White Lotus airs on HBO Sundays at 9 p.m. EST and is available for streaming the next day on HBO MAX.