HBO’s The White Lotus and a lesson learned

My guilty viewing pleasure of late has been the White Lotus mini series. During each of the two seasons, a group of guests arrives at an exclusive vacation destination. Throughout their stay, they either discover something about themselves or their intimate partners through interactions with other guests and the local staff. Of course there is a lot of bad behavior which makes the show entertaining.

But I am happy to report there was also a philosophy lesson snuck into season 2 episode five. It was one of those teaching moments, where the meaning was crystal clear in all but a few words. Two former college roommates bring their wives to the Sicilian resort. One of the two, Ethan the tech nerd, has recently made a boatload of money from the sale of a business. Cam is a money guy.

Cam is also a little loose on his commitment to a monogamous relationship with his wife Daphne. Ethan fears that Cam has set his sites on his wife. So over dinner, he accuses Cam of mimetic desires. (I’ve been wanting to understand mimetic desires and now Ethan lays it all out.) He explains that Cam has always held him in high regard and has wanted to be part of his prestige. So whenever Ethan would mention that he liked a girl in college, Cam would get busy and date her.

Mimetic desire: “Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others to make up his mind. We desire what others desire because we imitate their desires.” Rene Girard

As a side note, Jennifer Coolidge also gave a wonderful acceptance speech for the recent award she won at the 2023 Golden Globe awards. She portrays a wealthy heiress who appears in both seasons. She offers another lesson, I suppose, about success and timing.