In its first two installments, The White Lotus exemplified the “vacation, but make it murder,” genre for the small screen. Created by Mike White and first premiering on HBO in 2021, the program follows a collection of privileged characters as they strive to live out their best lives while traversing a path filled with dysfunction, relationship struggles, and, of course, murder.
Jennifer Coolidge, who took home an Emmy for her standout performance as Tanya in season 1, returned to reprise her role in the new installment, which changed locales from Hawaii to Italy. She joined a new cast of characters, played by an epic ensemble: Michael Imperioli, Aubrey Plaza, Meghann Fahey, F. Murray Abraham, Adam DiMarco, Haley Lu Richardson, Theo James, Will Sharpe, Sabrina Impacciatore, Simona Tabasco, Beatrice Grannò, and Tom Hollander.
With Sunday’s premiere of the highly-anticipated finale, which answered all our questions regarding this season’s murder mystery, we are now stuck waiting begins for the show to return, once again.
To make this wait a bit more bearable, we’ve compiled a list of 10 shows and movies like The White Lotus to tide you over.
The first two seasons of The White Lotus and the first two installments in Rian Johnson’s Knives Out franchise — the second of which, Glass Onion, hits Netflix on December 23 — have a lot in common. A murder mystery, a conniving ensemble of privileged characters, a remote destination, and a bevy of societal issues (from classism to racism to gender dynamics), abound throughout. That all sounds pretty, heavy. Thankfully, dark comedy permeate both The White Lotus and the Knives Out films, making it a fun watch all around. If that’s not enough to wet your whistle, see also: Daniel Craig.
Before Mike White created The White Lotus, he brought Enlightened to life at HBO. The series stars Laura Dern as corporate exec Amy Jellicoe who, after a emotional breakdown, decides to check-in to a spiritual retreat. After a New Age rebirth, Amy returns to find herself in an entry-level position within the corporation and decides to seek vengeance. The goal: burn it all down. The series may have been canceled after just two seasons, but if you’re itching for more of White’s signature storytelling style, look no more.
The Night Manager is a crime drama that draws inspiration from John le Carré’s novel of the same name. Starring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie, the short-lived series follows Hiddleston’s Jonathan Pine, a former British soldier who moonlights as a hotel porter. After being contacted by an intelligence operative, he’s tasked with spying on Richard Roper (Laurie), a businessman with criminal ties. Like The White Lotus, The Night Manager uses its lush locale as an unsuspecting backdrop to the modern day spy noir story it’s telling. Tom Hollander also costars in both.
Netflix’s The Chair follows Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim (Sandra Oh) as she struggles to acclimate to her new position as chair of a prestigious university’s English department. Oh, and she’s the first female to ever take up the job. Needless to say, a comedy of errors abounds as she discovers the role isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And much like The White Lotus, the series hones its thematic focus on class differences between the one percent and everyone else. Who knew campus life could be so petty?
Where to watch: Netflix (Subscription, 1 season)
Big Little Lies follows similar narrative ground as The White Lotus does, in that a murder mystery sets the stage for the character drama to play out. It all takes place at a lush beachfront locale, where an ensemble of epic talent – Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz, Alexander Skarsgård, and Adam Scott light up the screen in both seasons – delve deep into the throws of gossip-ridden community forced to confront everything from classism and trauma to domestic violence. Spoiler, for those who need it: Unlike The White Lotus, there’s nothing humorous going on here.
Hulu’s Nine Perfect Strangers disrupts a wealthy group of dysfunctional city-dwellers as it throws them into the midst of an exclusive wellness retreat with the goal of healing and transformation. Similar to The White Lotus, our gang of damaged heroes are all plagued with different types of toxic privilege. Led by the enigmatic Masha (Nicole Kidman), whose New Age practices raise more than one eyebrow, the psychological mystery unfolds in bizarre ways making us question the validity of this fringe establishment, while revealing, unsurprisingly so, that Masha isn’t exactly the all-knowing wellness guru she said she was.
Where to watch the limited series: Hulu (Subscription)
The granddaddy of satirical dramas following the often infuriating struggles of the one percent, HBO’s Succession is all that, and more. Throughout its first three seasons, the program, which is seeped in themes of classism, legacy, and generational trauma, explores the stressful antics of the Roy family – the main players being Jeremy Strong’s Kendall, Sarah Snook’s Shiv, Kieran Culkin’s Roman, Alan Ruck’s Connor, Matthew Macfadyen’s Tom, and Nicholas Braun’s Greg – as they play a constant game of mental chess against their father Logan (Brian Cox) and each other, all the the goal of keeping their media empire solvent.
Another show, another tropical vacation destination, The Resort follows married couple Noah (William Jackson Harper) and Emma (Cristin Milioti) who decide to celebrate their 10-year anniversary in the Yucatan region of Mexico. Struggling to get through a rough patch in their marriage, the duo discover a mysterious flip phone leading to potential details regarding a 15-year-old missing persons case. As you’d expect, the couple fall down the conspiracy rabbit hole as they look for answers, and find that missing spark in their relationship, in the process.
Where to watch the premiere season: Peacock (Subscription)
If you’re on the hunt for a fun murder-mystery watch, may we suggest The Flight Attendant? Kaley Cuoco stars as Cassie, the flight attendant in question. After a typical night of hard partying, she finds herself in bed next to the blood-soaked corpse of a passenger she had a one-night stand with. With no recollection of how he ended up dead, the series follows Cassie as she haphazardly tries to solve the crime and clear her name, all while struggling to reconcile a deeply repressed childhood trauma.
Sometimes, you need a bit of levity amid all the darkness and Schitt’s Creek is here to offer that respite. Sure, the story does revolve around similar issues of wealth and class as the other shows on this list, but it does so in a manner that matches its wholesome small-town surroundings. The basic premise follows the Rose family who, after losing all their money, is forced to relocate to the peculiar town of Schitt’s Creek. When monetary wealth is no longer a fact of life, the family eventually learn the priceless value of love and friendship.