Culture / TV

In defence of Daphne from ‘The White Lotus’

the white lotus daphne

You need stamina to make it through an entire season of The White Lotus – even as an audience member. And even then, one misstep (say, while climbing into a yacht tender) can send you plummeting to your death. It's treacherous territory, and yet somehow Daphne emerges from her Sicilian holiday physically and emotionally unscathed.

This isn't a spoiler, we glean this much from the first scene of the first episode. "Italy is so romantic. You’re going to die. They’re going to have to drag you out of here," Daphne gushes to a couple of fellow travellers. Seconds later, Daphne dives into the ocean and a dead body – possibly more – wash up and spoil her fun.

We're meant to hate Daphne, she is after all, a rich white woman who didn't vote. But by the end of the season, it's her, not clued-in Harper or "over-the-discourse" Portia that we feel fondest of. Save for Lucia and Mia, out of all The White Lotus guests, it's Daphne that appears to be having the most fun.

We could chalk this up to her resources, it's easy to enjoy yourself when life is going your way. But as we learn throughout the season, Daphne's marriage is littered with affairs – on both sides – minds games and potentially offspring to her own personal trainer. Against Ethan and Harper, we know which couple the audience is suppose to root for, yet as the cracks in their own relationship begin to show, there is something seductive in the ease of Daphne's world view.

“Do whatever you have to do not to feel like a victim,” she tells Ethan after he confides in her about a potential fling between their respective partners. And while it seems she's not unaffected by the news, with people on the internet speculating it's the betrayal on Harper's end that stings most, Meghann Fahy manages to communicate Daphne processing all stages of grief in a matter of seconds, a feat that would take most of us years to properly metabolise.

Where someone like Portia wallows in her circumstances, Daphne whips them into shape. And when any of her holiday companions threaten to teeter over the edge into a nervous breakdown, she gives them a little whip too. It's not exactly a comforting sentiment, nor an approach that would work for those who don't inhabit the same pools of privilege like Daphne, but it definitely unlocks a way of thinking that we all seem to need right now.

There are some moments when Fahy's Daphne is so blasé about the chaos before her, she comes off as unhinged; are those crazy eyes, or is it the look of someone who knows something we don't? But for weeks we've been talking about how the internet – TikTok, Instagram, Twitter et. al – seem to be reaching a noxious and neurotic apex, driving ourselves to near insanity. Perhaps the key is to detach, let it all wash over us. And above all, reach for the fun.


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Either way, we've got our fingers crossed for a Daphne cameo in season 3 of The White Lotus. Is there anyone better suited to an Eat Pray Love holiday in Asia?

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