7 Shows Like The White Lotus to Watch for More Dark Comedy - VRGyani News and Media

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Sunday, August 22, 2021

7 Shows Like The White Lotus to Watch for More Dark Comedy

Now that we finally discovered why the hell Shane (Jake Lacy) looked so grim at the airport in the opening scene of The White Lotus, it’s time to say goodbye to those characters we have been following for the past six weeks. One of the strong points of Mike White's HBO limited series (now an anthology) was undoubtedly the portrayal of how people who work in the service industry have to endure bouts of anger and insults from customers who, as we all know, are not always right. And even though this isn’t a new take, it’s important to remember it from time to time.

Watching stories about “the help” can be revealing in a way that makes us question our behavior and how we deal with people who should by no account be perceived as inferior. So, if you would like to see more shows that depict these types of relationships, how they affect everyone involved and also have a good time while watching, call the supervisor because this list is for you.

RELATED: 'The White Lotus': Murray Bartlett Explains the Shocking Twists of That Finale

Devious Maids

After delivering 180 episodes of Desperate Housewives, which did a great job of debunking the myth of the perfect wife and mother, creator and showrunner Marc Cherry wasn’t done. In fact, he had a lot more to say, which is why his next project, Devious Maids, can be seen as a spiritual sequel for Desperate Housewives.

Throughout its four-season run, Devious Maids told the story of Marisol (Anna Ortiz), Rosie (Dania Ramirez), Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez) and Zoila (Judy Reyes), four maids who work in the mansions of the rich and powerful people in Beverly Hills. Even though the central storyline, much like Desperate Housewives, was a murder-mystery, it was tied to the way Latinx workers are seen by their bosses.

Devious Maids is great at showing how casually racism towards BIPOCs is thrown around, and how white people tend to expect fitting all these people into certain stereotypes. One of the biggest examples of this is Marisol, a maid who makes her bosses uncomfortable because she can speak perfect English with no accent. TV has changed a lot since then (it aired between 2013 and 2016), but Cherry’s satire still rings very much true.

Downton Abbey

Even though this Jullian Fellowes series depicts a completely different time (the story starts in 1912), Downton Abbey illustrates perfectly the type of dynamics that was established by the elite centuries ago and shaped what is expected from servants to this day.

Back in turn-of-the-century England and in many other countries as well, rich people simply didn’t believe the help were entitled to their own private lives, the reason why the concept of live-in servants was a thing. Told both through the eyes of the house workers and their bosses, Downton Abbey does a great job of showing that, even though one could get lucky and work in a “nice” household, there were always drawbacks. The master’s attitude could turn on a dime if, say, he was having a bad day and the milk was served cold.

RELATED: 'Downton Abbey 2' Release Date Delayed to Spring 2022

Luckily for the series, the ensemble cast works perfectly together, which provides a lighter tone to much of what happens inside the walls of Downton. But we often get bitter reminders of how unfair life was for most employees back then and the sad perspective that there wasn’t much they could do to change it without horrible consequences.

Superstore

A more modern take on the service industry that still illustrates how stressful life can be for people who work in that area is NBC’s sitcom Superstore. Created by Justin Spitzer (The Office), it follows the routine of a group of workers at a megastore called Cloud 9. Due to its sitcom-y nature, Superstore uses humor to point out the absurdity of situations that floor workers, cashiers and store managers have to endure when helping clients who think they are entitled to whatever they want because they are a paying customer.

On top of that, the show also criticizes how a corporation can dehumanize individuals under the guise of saying stuff like “all the employees are one” and “we’re a family”. One of the show’s running jokes is how that family motto goes right out the window when corporate feels you are putting your interests ahead of the company’s, like when Cheyenne (Nichole Sakura) goes into labor at work because the company doesn’t offer paid maternity leave. Store manager Glenn (Mark McKinney) then has to simulate a suspension with pay so that the girl can stay at home with her newborn child for six weeks.

Party Down

Short-lived but widely appreciated, Party Down was an exercise that creators John Enbom, Dan Etheridge and Paul Rudd did on imagining how it would be if the members of a catering service just didn’t give a damn. In the story, the characters knew it was just a job and weren’t afraid to get fired – and seeing them have fun drove whoever hired them for a gig crazy.

A lot of times, a position in the service industry is just what it is – a job. Something you pick up on the way to a job you really want, and a way to pay the bills and stay afloat while you struggle. The service industry workers are so undervalued and humiliated with low pay that it’s a surprise we don’t get Party Downers everywhere more frequently.

Enlightened

Another show by The White Lotus’ creator Mike White, Enlightened shows a character rebirth in many ways. In the story, Amy (Laura Dern) goes to a wellness center to “work on her nerves” after she makes a scene at the workplace. Once she’s fully reformed, she goes back to work only to find out she’s been demoted to the lowest sector of the company, crunching numbers in an underground facility she’s never even heard of.

The constant theme of Enlightened is Amy’s quest to rise above anything bad thrown her way, and trying to remain positive in spite of those things. This becomes particularly difficult once she discovers the corporation to which she dedicated 15 years of her life is developing a system which tracks the lower-ranked employees and finds ways to make them work more while paying them less.

What Amy ends up realizing is that you can’t be a better person if you close your eyes to injustices that are designed by big corporations to crush every little ounce of dignity from people who just want to have a steady job and free time to enjoy life.

Little Fires Everywhere

A different take on “the help” but still as valid, Little Fires Everywhere is about the cynicism involved when someone acts as if they have their employee’s best interests at heart when, in fact, they only want to feel better about themselves. This starts when Elena (Reese Witherspoon) provides Mia (Kerry Washington) with a place to live and a job to have extra money as soon as the Black woman arrives in Shaker Heights, a town filled with rich people.

In her head, Elena’s doing Mia a huge favor, when in fact nothing she offers comes free of charge. Literally, because Mia still has to pay rent, and figuratively because when she accepts work as Elena’s maid, she has to clean up after her daughter Pearl’s (Lexi Underwood) new school friends. This happens while Pearl herself is around the mansion as a guest of the family, which makes Mia feel humiliated to be seen as “the help” by her own kid.

This is a very common type of situation between bosses and employees, in which bosses feel a worker should be thankful for having a job when, in fact, doing the job itself and showing commitment displays more than enough appreciation. In the case of Little Fires Everywhere, the situation is further complicated by race: Elena sees in Mia an opportunity to tell herself she’s not racist by doing the very minimum, which is showing kindness and empathy to another person, rather than extending a helping hand just to use it as leverage on future occasions.

The Nanny

Being yourself while providing a service is almost a revolutionary act. In any type of position in the service industry, the help is expected to “behave”, never speak out of turn, keep their opinions to themselves and become invisible when not needed. Not conforming to those rules is exactly what makes Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) great. Throughout The Nanny’s six-season run, Fran refused to be treated like crap, and accepted nothing less than respect from her boss and his rich visitors.

In the story, Fran happens to become the nanny of a rich family because she was out of a job and, because she didn’t know the etiquette of the position, she just acted like herself and ended up conquering the respect (and later the heart) of her boss and the kids.

Even though The Nanny and many other shows on this list are rooted in comedy, they all underline the same message. Being in the service industry doesn’t make a person less deserving of respect. And, as a customer, you shouldn’t expect these workers to tend to your every need – especially when you consider that they are overworked, underpaid and have to take crap from everyone day in, day out.

KEEP READING: The 55 Best Shows on HBO Max Right Now



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