Harper & Ethan Embody the Tragic Nature of Jealousy in ‘The White Lotus’
Jealousy is at the root of many things in The White Lotus‘ latest season, but that’s especially true for the foursome made up of Harper, Ethan, Cameron, and Daphne.
Spoiler for The White Lotus season two ahead
For background, one of the many ensembles in this season is the group made up of Harper (Audrey Plaza), Ethan (Will Sharpe), Cameron (Theo James), and Daphne (Meghann Fahy). Harper and Ethan are married and newly wealthy due to Ethan selling his tech company for a lot of money. That influx of cash has brought his rich college friend Cameron back into his life, along with his wife Daphne, and they all decided to go on this couple’s vacation to Sicily. At first, Harper is dismissive of the couple because they are shallow, and she feels they have ulterior motives. Cameron tends to be just as judgemental and very sexually passive-aggressive.
After Cameron hires the sex workers Lucia and Mia while getting high, the unraveling between Ethan and Harper sets into motion. Harper was already feeling insecure about Ethan not wanting sex with her, but finding a condom inside the sofa made something snap. While the audience knows Ethan didn’t do anything, seeing him lie to Harper while she’s holding the evidence is frustrating.
Because The White Lotus is a good show, we understand how we got here. Harper wasn’t great initially, and her superiority, while valid on a level, did bring down the vibe. However, once she committed to changing, we saw that Ethan quickly manipulated and lied to avoid confrontation. Lying about the condom wrapper was silly, and Harper was right to be pissed off. Her acting out in the face of gaslighting may have been annoying or off-putting, but it was valid.
In the penultimate episode, Ethan finally admits what he did after being confronted with the condom wrapper. Still, he spends the entire episode paranoid about Harper cheating on him with Cameron, even despite Harper’s transparency about thinking Cameron is creepy and a jerk. Not to mention that when Harper told Ethan about Cameron indirectly flashing her, Ethan dismissed it as nothing. Watching Ethan’s paranoid fantasies about Harper and Cameron, you see his insecurities coming out. Earlier, he mentions how Cameron would take every girl he ever liked.
For Harper, her insecurities are based on how Ethan changes around his friends. His casual sexual rejection of her and this desire for her to conform to his needs at the time. With Ethan, the moment he feels sexually threatened, it goes from zero to 100. Despite having gaslit her for a whole day, Ethan now worries about the same thing happening to him. But again, Harper has only ever tried to be intimate with Ethan. Their dynamic is a painful ballet of jealousy, with Harper feeling it for the first time and trying to connect emotionally while also acting out. Still, Ethan is ready to level up to anger after years of being second best.
Despite bragging about being the couple that talks about everything, there is a lot left unspoken between these two, which has transformed their relationship into a green-eyed monster.
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