Despite being conceived as a limited series, HBO’s The White Lotus has been renewed for a second season (per Variety). According to star Alexandra Daddario on After Hours with Josh Horowitz, the show is “basically about a bunch of terrible people who go on vacation at a fancy resort and think that their problems are the most important problems in the world.”
Indeed, The White Lotus is full of largely unlikable, self-centered wealthy elites who think the world revolves around them and their perceived minor slights. With the finale completing the full portrait of each main character, some of the characters on the show have proven far more rootable and redeemable than others.
10 Olivia Mossbacher
Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) is the least likable main character on the well-received HBO miniseries, which is no easy feat. The spoiled, deeply cynical teenager treats her younger brother Quinn (Fred Hechinger) like garbage, lords over her so-called friend Paula (Brittany O’Grady) like an evil warden, and tries to break up Paula’s budding romance with Kai (Kekoa Kekumano) by stealing him for herself.
Blissfully ignorant of her life of privilege, which Paula checks her on during the finale, Olivia typifies the worst instincts of the current millennial generation. Her biggest redemptive moment comes from forgiving her friend for stealing priceless jewelry from her parents, which nowhere near atones for the odious behavior she demonstrated in the five previous episodes. Olivia is a mean girl personified.
9 Shane Patton
Shane Patton (Jake Lacy) is another detestable character who tastelessly flaunts his family wealth, aggressively flirts with teenage girls on his honeymoon, and encourages his new bride Rachel (Daddario) to drop her career hopes and dreams to live a life as a trophy wife, something she deeply opposes. Shane is brash, cocky, and wildly inconsiderate.
Worse, when Shane isn’t given the honeymoon suite his mother paid for, he throws a massive temper tantrum that ends up in a fatal feud with the hotel concierge, Armond (Murray Bartlett). Shane’s rude, macho behavior is the catalyst for the entire murder mystery plot of the show, the result of which underscores his deserving guilt in the matter.
While certainly one of the funniest and most flamboyant characters on the popular HBO original series, once Armond spirals into a drug-addled descent of debauchery and irresponsibility, he does some pretty loathsome things. His vindictive spat with Shane highlights his petty immaturity, which ultimately costs him his life.
Still, Armond’s dubious character is shown in the premiere episode when he fails to remember Lani’s (Jolene Purdy) name after she gives birth on her first day of work. While he tries to appease the various guests, Armond’s own craven urges get the best of him, leading him to lie about Paula’s missing bag, steal and ingest her prescription drugs, and go on an all-out self-destructive bender by the finale. Armond’s veneer of hospitality shatters under pressure, revealing his true character as a mean-spirited grudge holder.
7 Nicole Mossbacher
As a powerful female role model and CFO of fictional search engine proof, Nicole Mossbacher (Connie Britton) is quite likable and unforgettable. However, her constant dismissal of Paula’s inherent medical issues and incessant support for single white males as a persecuted group demonstrates her tone-deaf sensitivity issues.
Nicole is most likable when she disciplines her overstepping daughter, Olivia, or when she shows her relatable OCD issues by rearranging furniture ahead of a zoom meeting. However, she has no real redemptive arc other than being assaulted by Kai in her hotel room, which is more of a shining moment for her husband Mark (Steve Zahn).
6 Mark Mossbacher
Steve Zahn gives one of the better performances in The White Lotus as Mark, a man whose medical news leads to an emotional rollercoaster while on vacation. Mark arrives with his family awaiting testicular cancer results. When he’s relieved with negative results, he learns his father died of AIDS instead of cancer as he’d been told his whole life.
The medical story arc alone makes Mark extremely compelling, but it’s his touching bond with his son Quinn that makes him so likable. Vowing to be a much more honest father than his dad was, Mark’s encouragement of Quinn’s scuba diving ultimately leads to the biggest decision in the boy’s life.
Paula has a complicated character arc that places her right down the middle of the likability line. She begins as a very sweet-natured and kind-hearted teenager who is genuinely happy to be on a Hawaiian vacation with her rich friend Olivia. Over time, however, she shows a dark conniving side who conspires to steal jewelry from Olivia’s parents.
Yet, Paula only plans for Kai to steal the jewelry so that he can pay for lawyers to defend his family after their property was illegally taken by the government. While her heart was in the right place and her intentions were honest, Paula’s choices made her less likable as the series progressed.
4 Tanya McQuiod
Jennifer Coolidge gives a heartbreaking performance as Tanya McQuoid, a wealthy businesswoman who arrives in Hawaii to spread the ashes of her deceased mother. Beset with grief and sadness that makes her sympathetic from the get-go, Tanya makes a meaningful platonic bond with Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) and a romantic relationship with Greg (Jon Gries) that helps her get past her trauma and look forward to the future with newfound optimism.
Unlike Paula, Tanya becomes more likable as the series advances. Her ability to grow, share her feelings, overcome tragedy, and accept death as a natural part of life upon learning of Greg’s terminal condition allows her to spread her mother’s in the end ashes and welcome the future with open arms.
3 Rachel Patton
If it weren’t for her ultimate decision to stay married to Shane in the end, Rachel would be even more likable. Still, as the only down-to-earth main character who doesn’t hail from a life of exorbitant wealth and privilege, Rachel is still one of the most relatable and rootable characters on the show.
After her honeymoon is interrupted by Shane’s neverending temper tantrum over getting the wrong hotel room, Rachel begins to wonder if she mistakingly married him. She expresses concern over her career as an aspiring journalist but is insulted by both Shane and Nicole and told to give up her career dreams. Rachel is lovely, pleasant, polite, and doesn’t do a single unlikable thing in the show until she decides to stay with Shane in the end. Even that, as dishonest as her feelings may be, shows her loyalty in the most adverse times.
2 Quinn Mossbacher
Quinn Mossbacher has the most spirited and uplifting story arc on the beloved HBO original series, easily placing him among the most likable characters. Quinn begins as a typical sullen teenager addicted to his phone and video games and ends as a fully transformed young man with a motivated life mission.
After Olivia kicks Quinn out of the hotel room and forces him to sleep on the beach, he has a profound moment upon witnessing a whale at sunrise. This ignites a deep connection with nature, which he feels so strongly about that he decides to stay in Hawaii for good and pursue his dream of being on the Hawaiian rowing team. Quinn’s inspiring evolution is the most positive aspect of the entire show.
Diametrically opposed to the insufferable affluent hotel guests, Belinda is the kindhearted healing spirit and spa masseuse who remains likable from the first time she appears onscreen to the last. Her dashed business venture at the flaky whims of Tanya conjures genuine empathy for the character.
As grounded as can be, Belinda represents the underclass that is often exploited by the rich hotel guests that frequent places like The White Lotus. Beyond her lovely personality and symbolic social status, Belinda is made even more likable when Tanya reneges on her business investment, leaving Belinda in the same stagnant place she was when the show started.