This article contains major spoilers for "The White Lotus" seasons 1 and 2.
Jennifer Coolidge's Emmy award-winning role as Tanya McQuoid in the debut season of Mike White's "The White Lotus," was one of the most talked about performances of 2021. Coolidge was effortless as the wealthy, daffy, emotionally unstable socialite struggling to cope with the recent death of her mother. When it was announced that Coolidge would return for season 2, fans were ecstatic. Coolidge has been a character actor powerhouse for decades, but "The White Lotus" provided her with some of the best material to work with in her entire career.
On a show where everyone is kind of an irredeemable mess, the character of Tanya McQuoid became a fast favorite, because at least she wasn't actively malicious in the way some of her co-stars were behaving. Sure, she fully lied to Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) about investing in her wellness business, but she didn't stab the hotel manager or take a steaming dump in a suitcase like Shane (Jake Lacy) or Armond (Murray Bartlett). Instead, she left Belinda with a massive envelope of cash. It's not quite a business investment, but it's certainly not the worst thing in the world.
Tanya of season 2 is just as much of an emotional mess as the first season, but now she's married to Greg (Jon Gries), a man who clearly despises her and is only interested in her money. As an audience, we could see the writing on the wall between the two of them since season 1, but fans were optimistic that maybe Tanya would get it together and find her happily ever after. Well, that didn't happen, but "The White Lotus" season 2 ends with the most fitting farewell for Tanya McQuoid.
Implicit Bias And Selfishness
One of the running themes of "The White Lotus" season 2 has been that men ain't s***, with show creator Mike White exploring toxic masculinity through multiple avenues and characters. Tanya has dealt with her husband Greg not caring about her and clearly using her for her wealth, but Tanya's arc this season was also a look at the way implicit bias will be the downfall of us all. Greg's desire to steal Tanya's wealth is what starts the domino effect that leads to her demise, but there's an argument to be made that all of this would have been avoided had she just gone into business with Belinda instead of marrying Greg. She even blames "that girl from Maui" for her troubles, rhetorically wondering if she "cursed" her.
On top of that, Tanya was dismissive of her assistant Portia (Haley Lu Richardson) and treated her poorly, was uneasy with the resort workers, and was so convinced that a Romani tarot card reader was scamming her, she berated her, despite the woman providing her with worthwhile predictions. At the same time, when a group of wealthy, white, gay men parasitically fawned over her — she immediately trusted them and completely changed her entire vacation to accommodate them.
Even after Tanya started noticing suspicious things regarding The Wealthy Gays™, their houseboy Jack (Leo Woodall), and how they were behaving, she never came out and told Portia what she knew. She continued to give these white, rich, elite men the benefit of the doubt, ignoring all warning signs until it was too late. On their final day, when Portia was missing, her main concern was how she attracts "bad assistants" and not the reality of the situation, which is that Portia was in material danger.
Empathy Is Not An Excuse
We learn in the middle of season 2 that Tanya's wealth was acquired under some truly upsetting circumstances and that it seems like she was abused by her father as a child, and he threw money at her as a way of "apologizing" to her, or more likely, keeping her quiet. It's clear that Tanya has had a rough go of it, but that's not an excuse for how poorly she's treated people for the last two seasons. Tanya has been surrounded by people who are trying to help her better herself and heal her deeply rooted pain, and she's pushed them all aside for whatever can bring her instant gratification. It's easy to feel bad for her knowing what she's been through, but having endured a traumatic upbringing doesn't give a person a pass to be an insufferable twat to everyone she deems "beneath" her.
She brought Portia along to assist her, but upon her husband's request, basically relegated the poor girl to exile. Granted, it's an all-inclusive resort so it's surely not the worst punishment, but being forced to "be invisible" is an incredibly dehumanizing demand. Tanya's selfishness borders on narcissism, to the point where she was holding a gun to Quentin (Tom Hollander) and asking him if her husband Greg has been cheating on her, even though she had the hunky Niccoló (Stefano Gianino) going down on her in the midst of a coke binge the night before. Tanya's actions don't matter to her, taking a back seat to the events that happen to her.
Going Out As Only She Can
Tanya is a nightmare person, but it's her naïveté and unintentional hilarity that made her such a beloved character. We know in her heart of hearts that she means well, she's just in desperate need of therapy, sensitivity training, and a double serving of humble pie. When it becomes clear that Greg has hired The Wealthy Gays™ to kill her so he can inherit her fortune and split it amongst them all, we root for her escape. We want Tanya to take them all out because as awful as she is, she doesn't deserve to be killed so that The World's Blandest Man can get what he wants.
Fortunately, she does take them out — in the most Tanya way possible. She's been saying all season how badly she wants to be like Monica Vitti, but I doubt she realized she'd get her wish in the form of becoming "The Girl with the Pistol." Wearing her Apollonia Corleone finest, Tanya runs around the yacht (unaware that they can fully see her), steals Niccoló's bag of rope, duct tape, and a gun, and starts aimlessly shooting. Through tears and without any training, she kills them all. Tanya has done the unimaginable, because the only person who can take out Tanya, is Tanya.
A Poetic Ending
Tanya looks to have made it out alive, as there's an escape boat she can easily take to safety — one that was originally reserved for Niccoló to use to dispose of her body. The route to freedom is right in front of her, but as is tradition for Tanya, her own hubris gets in the way. Rather than using the phones of her captors to call for assistance, jumping into the ocean to swim to safety, taking the stairs off the yacht to get to the boat, or even taking off her high heels before trying to make a jump for it, she cannot see the forest for the trees and instead slips, hits her head, and submerges into the ocean just moments after telling herself, "You got this."
As sad as it is to say goodbye to such a memorable character, this is the most fitting end for Tanya McQuoid. Had Tanya been able to look past her own selfishness, she might have survived for a third season. Alas, as with many greats that came before her, Tanya McQuoid was hoisted by her own petard. She first visited The White Lotus in Hawai'i to toss her mother's ashes at sea, and by meeting her end by "sleeping with the fishes," Tanya finally lived out her worst nightmare — becoming her mother. But even in death, Tanya still comes out on top, because Greg is 100% going to jail for ordering a hit on his wife that led to the deaths of five people.
Riposa in Pace, Tanya. Season 3 won't be the same without you.
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The post Tanya's Stay at The White Lotus Season 2 is Exactly What She Deserved appeared first on /Film.