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The Internet is losing it over the second season of 'The White Lotus'

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Season 2 of the HBO mystery-drama "The White Lotus" wraps up this weekend. It has already taken the internet by storm.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: So I've been crazy obsessed with "White Lotus" Season 2.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: I have so many "White Lotus" theories.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Last night's episode cracked the entire code for me.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: "White Lotus" fans - I have a theory, and I have to talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Tanya is in for a ride.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: Let's talk about this scene from "White Lotus" and what it might reveal about the ending.

KELLY: Viewers far and wide trying there to connect the dots behind this whodunit. So what is it about this season that is sparking so much obsession? Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent at Vox and, yes, a big fan of the show. He is with us now, and I promise no spoilers. Alex, hey there.

ALEX ABAD-SANTOS: No spoilers.

KELLY: No spoilers.

ABAD-SANTOS: We will not spoil anything.

KELLY: We will not spoil anything.

ABAD-SANTOS: I will try my best.

KELLY: Well, I am constitutionally incapable of spoiling everything because I watched Season 1, but I have not watched any - not a second - of Season 2. So bring me and everybody else listening who maybe is in the same boat up to speed. In a nutshell, what's the premise?

ABAD-SANTOS: Think about the richest people and the worst people you know on vacation in Sicily in, like, this gorgeous place, having the worst time of their lives and then, like, some really, really fantastic performances, and someone dies at the end. We don't know who. And so I think that is basically why everyone has gotten a little bit obsessed with this show. And that's why people - there's so many, like, conspiracy theories and so much wild stuff out there. We can't tell yet if it's a murder mystery or a manslaughter mystery or how these people died in the first place.

KELLY: One way or the other, it's a whodunit, and there's one episode left to sort it all out. OK. I want to get to what we mentioned when I was introducing this, why so much of the experience this season seems to be the online discussion that's happening after every episode. Is this, like, the return of the water cooler show or what?

ABAD-SANTOS: Right. You mentioned that you watched the first season, right?

KELLY: Yeah. Yup.

ABAD-SANTOS: And that was set in Hawaii. There was a death there, but it wasn't really, like, a murder mystery per se because I think there was a lot of big cultural ideas about Hawaii and, like, American tourism that were kind of bigger than the show.

KELLY: Right. So this is different both in setting and - they've kind of sharpened that plotline.

ABAD-SANTOS: Right. And then this isn't a spoiler, but the very first scene in the show is they're pulling bodies from the water off of the White Lotus resort. And it's just like, we don't know how many bodies there are. We just know that people have died, and we know that they're guests of The White Lotus, and that is where we start. And then the entire season has been kind of, like, this retelling of, like, how we got to this place. And so I think everyone wants to be a part of this murder mystery and solve it themselves, right? So, I mean, one, you can tell people, look; I was smart enough to figure this out. Or, two, it's like you watch it because you don't want to get spoiled, which I'm going to try not to do on this show.

KELLY: You're trying very hard. Yes. Hats off.

ABAD-SANTOS: There is so much of my being that wants to say everything. And so you just have to tell me where to go.

KELLY: We'll pull you back from the edge, Alex. Don't worry.

ABAD-SANTOS: Great.

KELLY: I do want to talk about the way that people are watching this as opposed to the way a lot of us have gotten used to watching a show, where you can just binge the whole thing on your sofa in one weekend. And you know how it ends before your friend has even started watching.

ABAD-SANTOS: Right.

KELLY: People are having to wait. Like, we're all - you know, if you want to watch it, it's airing Sunday. You've had to wait as this is morseled (ph) out, episode by episode.

ABAD-SANTOS: Right. I think we're going back to that idea of, like, yes, if there's a Sunday night TV show, people want to tune in. Like, no one wants to be the last person to know, like, who died, right? And I think, like, the only worse feeling than that is, like, having someone spoil that for you. So I think there's an imperative and, like, the desire to watch it live. But I also think the other kind of, like, fulfilling thing is once you watch it live, you have a whole community of people that you can talk to about it - right? - like, well, maybe not you because you haven't seen this entire season. But I am waiting to talk to someone about who died on "White Lotus" on Monday morning or even Sunday night or text people.

KELLY: Are we witnessing a renaissance of the classic whodunit? I'm thinking of this show. I'm thinking - I did watch "Bad Sisters" on Apple TV. I loved it. The movies like "Glass Onion" - where does "White Lotus" fit in with those others?

ABAD-SANTOS: I mean, I think "White Lotus" and "Glass Onion" - there's a lot of similarity there in that they're both very wealthy people. And it's a whodunit among very, very wealthy people who might kind of also be sociopaths, who might also be emotionally abusive to each other. And so I think that there is definitely, like, a crossover. Like, yes, I'm sure there's a lot of people who love "White Lotus" who would love "Glass Onion."

KELLY: All right. So wind up and give me your best pitch. For me, for anyone like me who has not yet turned on "White Lotus" this year, should we? Should we be frantically binging all weekend to be caught up and ready for Sunday?

ABAD-SANTOS: OK. There are six episodes that have been shown. The seventh episode is on Sunday. That's only about, like, six times 40 minutes per episode. You could probably do it in an afternoon.

KELLY: I could do this. Yeah.

ABAD-SANTOS: You could get there.

KELLY: Alex Abad-Santos, senior correspondent at Vox and king of no spoilers. Thank you so much.

ABAD-SANTOS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRISTOBAL TAPIA DE VEER'S "RENAISSANCE (MAIN TITLE THEME)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Erika Ryan
Erika Ryan is a producer for All Things Considered. She joined NPR after spending 4 years at CNN, where she worked for various shows and CNN.com in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Ryan began her career in journalism as a print reporter covering arts and culture. She's a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and currently lives in Washington, D.C., with her dog, Millie.
Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.