In the second July of the ongoing pandemic, with his cinephilia fading, Film Quarterly columnist Bilal Qureshi was jolted awake by the biting excellence of HBO’s six-part series The White Lotus, the undeniable water-cooler show of the summer. A classis whodunnit set among a collective of entitled, smug, and vindictive wealthy tourists at a Hawaiian luxury resort, The White Lotus proved a provocative meditation on class, privilege, and the frayed national mood. To have a work of mainstream “prestige” TV—with is lavish production values and characteristic wealthy white angst—inspire confusion and disagreement over issues of whiteness and privilege strikes Qureshi as a welcome shift from streaming’s usual habit of lulling audiences into one-dimensional distraction and cements The White Lotus’s status as a definitive pandemic-era piece of filmmaking.
The Streaming Souls of White Folk
Bilal Qureshi is a radio journalist and cultural critic exploring the intersection of international politics, identity, and art. From 2008 to 2015, he served as producer and editor for NPR’s All Things Considered. He now profiles authors, filmmakers, visual artists, and musicians for the network. His essays have appeared in the New York Times, Newsweek, and the Washington Post. He also co-hosts the FQ podcasts for Film Quarterly.
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Bilal Qureshi; The Streaming Souls of White Folk. Film Quarterly 1 December 2021; 75 (2): 80–83. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2021.75.2.80
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