Portia is just a young woman trying to figure out what she wants, and yet many fans of the white lotus can’t seem to give it a break.
Played by Haley Lu Richardson, Portia is among the new faces of the HBO comedy-drama. the white lotus for its second season. This time, the story takes place in a luxurious all-inclusive resort on the picturesque coast of Sicily. Arriving at the resort fresh out of community college, Portia finds her way to the luxury spot because she’s the assistant to billionaire Tanya McQuoid, played by an unpredictable, smoky-voiced Jennifer Coolidge. As a normal, non-rich person, Portia’s character stands in stark contrast to the lavish guests surrounding her, and yet many fans online have criticized her character for her taste in fashion, personality, and even romantic choices. she. It’s all part of a long and tired tradition of fans tearing apart female characters, especially when they don’t have it all figured out. And it’s a symptom of fans’ tendency to assess whether a character is “good” or “annoying,” instead of considering how they fit into the story.
The criticism started with Portia’s outfits. Fans gasped at her taste in her fashion; Her outfits ranged from tomboyish looks that paired baggier cargo pants with a bucket hat, to more classic Y2K fashion. One of her most mentioned offenses was a zebra-print bikini and rainbow-knit bolero top. Fans online wore exaggerated versions of her outfits, calling them “Portia-core” and dragged her down for her lack of taste. One comedy account even joked that the costume designer, Alex Bovaird, a tenured costume designer who has worked on award-winning movies like Nope Y The perks of Being a Wallflower – should be demoted for Portia’s outfits.
And the criticism didn’t stop at her fashion sense. A popular TikTok uses an audio clip that reads, “And now I want to sit back and relax and enjoy my night, when all of a sudden I hear this screeching, agitated voice.” As the voice says “waving”, the video clip focuses on Portia. Additionally, fans scrutinized Portia’s romantic choices, such as her decision to make out with a guy who has a neck tattoo, over the standard nice guy who went to Stanford, Albie Di Grasso.
Fans ultimately criticize Portia’s lack of wealth and ability to socialize with the elite class. Her outfits of hers? He’s not fancy enough. His taste of him in men? Low quality. His behavior of him? Not fresh and collected.
But this misses the point. Portia is a community college graduate who is young and being thrown into a level of luxury that most normal people will never experience in their lives. It makes sense that she doesn’t look as good as the other characters, like a super-rich housewife or the wealthy and resourceful lawyer played by Aubrey Plaza. In an interview with Variety, Bovaird said that Portia’s costume was intended to convey a character still resolving herself and that she didn’t have as much money as the other characters. “She’s young, she doesn’t really know who she is and she’s trying different ideas. She sometimes dresses more dainty and other times she dresses like a boy,” Bovaird said.
But online fan discussion doesn’t focus on basic questions about his motivations as a character, or how his character fits into the story. Instead, fans seem more interested in theorizing, dragging characters, or sending Portia off with Albie than getting involved with the story or character creation.
This confuses personal distaste for a character with the idea that their character is poorly written and focuses on questions like Do I personally like Portia’s sense of style? Y Was he personally a friend of Portia’s? rather than asking why Portia is the way she is, and why her character might dress or act the way she does. Or how her general presence of her as the only non-rich person in this elite space could make this particular story intriguing.
Of course, maybe Portia just doesn’t land with young viewers in a way that feels true to their experiences. Haley Lu Richardson imbues Portia with a kind of levity that lends an eerie feeling to her scenes. This is especially true when she talks about what she wants from a relationship when she goes on a date with Albie. As she holds up a glass of pristine white wine, she says that she wants to “have fun.” She continues: “I’m sick of fucking TikTok and…and Bumble and just…screens and apps and sitting there bingeing on Netflix. And I just… I just want to live.”
In scenes like this, she comes across as confused and uncomfortable. Portia, like the rest of the guests at the White Lotus resort, feels a bit out of place and, to be honest, extremely embarrassed. The conversations shared between the guests act as social satire, presenting her own brand of horror outside of a death that happens at the hotel. And Portia is no exception to that. She is an idiot like any other hotel guest. When she talks to Tanya about why she likes Albie, she says, “She’s nice and smart. He went to Stanford and he’s not non-binary.” What it is Unique to her is the bar that people hold their character to.
the white lotus It’s a show about horrible, horrible people. Everyone is “waving” and “gnashing” in their own way. Are we really going to ignore the two giga-chads acting like college kids on screen, the kinky grandpa, or heaven forbid, the cheating dad trying to get his wife back? Season 2 gives us a real smorgasbord of horrible men, and yet TikTok seems to focus on Portia’s fashion sense and taste in men during her adventure in Italy.
For those obsessing over Portia’s shortcomings, I’m afraid this show is less a way to gawk at the utterly self-centered nature of the super-rich, and more like something aspirational. Despite how effectively the show satirises the ultra-elite, many of us would love to live luxuriously and go to Sicily. It’s a mystery with a possible accidental death or murder where we ogle the beautiful lives of rich people, and Portia interrupts that.
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