Waiting for the return of The White Lotus? Here are 5 wince-inducing dramas to tide you over...

The cast of The White Lotus TV series on HBO Max
(Image credit: HBO Max)

The White Lotus took us all by surprise when it emerged onto screens in July of 2021. 

Set at very expensive hotel chain The White Lotus, this time in Hawaii, the show began as a mystery drama framed around an unidentified dead body, but quickly morphed into something else, a look at the lives of the guests and what was going on in their lives. Those lives, it turned out, included a taste of infidelity, marital breakdown, betrayal of life-long friendships and so much more. 

Everyone in the show was unbearable in their own way, with Murray Bartlett's Armond, the sardonic manager of the place, just trying to keep everything. At times it got very dark, but it was also really, really funny, especially Jennifer Coolidge, who delivered endlessly as Tanya McQuoid. 

The show was such a hit for HBO that a second season was commissioned and this time the action is shifting to Italy. An anthology series, the new season will be a whole new storyline with an almost entirely new and an all-star cast that includes The Sopranos' Michael Imperioli, Wes Anderson favorite F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hollander and Aubrey Plaza. There's one exception, Coolidge is back, which is great news. 

Production started in February, so there's a tiny chance we'll the second season of The White Lotus at the very end of 2022, but it's far more likely to be 2023. 

So, until we get to check in for a second time, we thought we'd provide some alternatives, shows with a similar wince-inducing take on the world, just to tide us over until season two. 

Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers

(Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

Of all the shows we've profiled in this feature, The White Lotus is the hardest to find a televisual sibling for, it's quite a unique proposition. So we've either gone for dramas with real ensemble feels and lots of reveals, or cringey-comedy that make you wince. Nine Perfect Strangers is firmly in the former category. 

Based on Liane Moriarty's best-selling 2018 novel, the show stars Nicole Kidman, Melissa McCarthy, Luke Evans, Samara Weaving, Regina Hall, Tiffany Boone and Michael Shannon. 

Kidman plays Masha, who runs Tranquillum House, a wellness retreat for those who desperately need to get away from everything going on in their lives. She gathers together the titular strangers to help them relax and recover from various traumas. 

Masha's methods, it turns out, are rather unconventional and threaten to reveal rather more about those gathered at the retreat than they, or she, bargained for. 

A sprawling twisty mystery, this doesn't have The White Lotus' laugh-out-loud moments, but it does have the same ensemble feel and it's rather addictive once you press play. 

Where can I stream it?

Hulu (US), Prime Video (UK, AU)

Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

(Image credit: Showmax)

Part of the reason Moriarty';s Nine Perfect Strangers found its way to the screen is because of the success of her previous adaptation, Big Little Lies. 

Again, this show has a large starry cast, with Nicole Kidman once again, but also Reese Witherspoon, Zoe Kravitz, Laura Dern and Alexander Skarsgård in key roles. 

Big Little Lies is set in the small and hugely wealthy Californian town of Pirriwee and follows the lives of four mothers whose children are all in first grade at the local elementary school whose lives become bound together when a murder happens in the town.

The identity of the victim, who their murder came to be and who are the culprits are is slowly revealed over the course of the episodes, all the while all the characters at each other's throats. 

It's gripping, full of twists and turns and makes light of the very much first-world problems of its characters very cleverly. A must-watch. 

Where can I stream it?

HBO Max (US), NOW (UK), BiNGE (AU)


Feud: Bette and Joan

(Image credit: FX)

Ryan Murphy, whose credits include Glee and American Horror Story, hasn't had many hits in recent years, but his 2017 creation Feud was outstanding. 

This eight-parter chronicles the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford during and after the production of their 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Jessica Lange plays Crawford with Susan Sarandon starring as Davis. They are supported by a cast that includes Catherine Zeta-Jones, Judy Davis, Jackie Hoffman, Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci and Alison Wright.

Wickedly funny, smartly written and anchored by Lange and Sarandon, who put so much venom into their performances, this has the same acidic comedy as The White Lotus, albeit at a more frenzied pace. 

Where can I stream it?

Hulu (US), Disney+ (UK, AU)


best amazon prime shows

(Image credit: Amazon Prime)

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's gut-wrenching, beautifully- written and really, really funny Fleabag has the same perfect blend of comedy and drama as The White Lotus, with just the right balance struck every time. 

For those not in the know, Waller-Bridge plays the title character, a free-spirited, but also neurotic and confused young woman trying to find her way in London. As we see Fleabag go about her days, she constantly breaks the fourth wall to provide witty internal monologues and a running commentary to the audience. 

In the show's first season, her friendship with best friend Boo plays out, while in the second Andrew Scott plays a priest with whom Fleabag begins a kind of relationship, but one always destined to be hugely complex. 

Where can I stream it?

Prime Video (US, UK, AU). 



(Image credit: HBO)

Another outing for Laura Dern and another trip to Hawaii for our final suggestion, which was created by Mike White, the man also behind The White Lotus. 

Dern plays  Amy Jellicoe, a self-destructive executive, who, after the implosion of her professional life, heads off to a retreat to recover. 

She returns a zen-like changed woman with beads and a determination to do good, but things quickly start to implode once again. 

You can see the genesis of The White Lotus here as well as a powerhouse performance from Dern. This is well worth revisiting. 

Where can I stream it?

HBO Max (US), NOW (UK), BiNGE (AU)

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…