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Asian fans worry 'The White Lotus' new location could lead to shallow portrayals of Eastern faith

Sakshi Venkatraman

Sakshi Venkatraman is a reporter for NBC Asian America.

Some Asian Americans are raising eyebrows after it was reported that season three of hit HBO series “The White Lotus” will be set in Thailand

The previous two seasons, set in Hawaii and Italy, follow a group of rich, white families as their vacations at the local White Lotus resorts devolve into chaos and murder. Mike White, creator and director of the show, hinted at season three’s premise after the finale of season two. 

“The first season kind of highlighted money, and then the second season is sex,” White said in the clip. “I think the third season would be maybe a satirical and funny look at death and Eastern religion and spirituality. It feels like it could be a rich tapestry to do another round at White Lotus.”

Fans say they are already worried about how this focus on Eastern culture might play out, emphasizing there should be Southeast Asian creatives involved. 

“So any Thai writers involved?” one person tweeted.

Simona Tabasco and Adam DiMarco in season two of "The White Lotus."
Simona Tabasco and Adam DiMarco in season two of "The White Lotus."Fabio Lovino / HBO

Representatives for White and HBO didn’t respond to NBC News’ requests for comment. 

After many criticized the first season of “The White Lotus” as a shallow depiction of the Native Hawaiians that lived and worked on the resort islands, viewers say they fear a similar short-sightedness will follow with the Asian characters’ storylines in season three. 

“I’m a little wary of White Lotus S3 being in Thailand since S1 dropped the ball so much in terms of the discussion of racism and imperialism in Hawaii (bc it was written by white people),” another viewer tweeted in response to the news.

Part of the audience didn’t seem to like the fact that the issue of the U.S. colonialism in Hawaii was barely explored with any depth, and that the Native characters’ storylines were treated as plot devices without closure. With season two’s setting in Italy, this wasn’t as much of an issue, a fan said, because “they just focused on class & tourism which is their strong suit.”