What ‘The White Lotus’ Season 2 Left Jennifer Coolidge Fighting: Seasickness and “Evil Gays”?

Rest in peace, Tanya McQuoid. While we’re sad about the end of Season 2 of “The White Lotus,” where the show’s “crown jewel” kills a few “high-end gays,” falls off a yacht, hits her head on a dinghy, and drowns in the Ionian Sea, the internet is full of Jennifer Coolidge memes. (She does know about them.)

Tanya figures out that Quentin (Tom Hollander) is trying to trick her, but as she’s getting ready to escape back to land, she slips and drowns herself, a shocking death that even the craziest theories couldn’t predict. As for why Tanya didn’t put the pieces together sooner, Coolidge told Variety, “It’s too hard for people to admit to themselves that there’s that kind of evil in the world. No one wants to believe that.”

In the Season 2 finale, Tanya fought off “evil gays” while Coolidge was sick at sea. “After Season 1 of ‘White Lotus,’ I told Mike I never wanted to be on a boat again, but I had to be on two yachts,” she says. “I was so nauseous.”

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Coolidge, who won an Emmy in September for playing Tanya in Season 1, sat down with Variety after the end of the second season to talk about how her own “obliviousness” inspired the character, how she became an instant meme, and what “The White Lotus” has meant for her and her career.

When did you first find out that you would be the big death at the end of this season, and what did you do when Mike told you?

It didn’t make me happy. But Mike White is smart, so I knew my story would end well. When he told me I was going to die, he didn’t know how it would end because he hadn’t planned it all out.

I was sad, but Mike tells stories better than anyone else I know, so I knew I had to believe it. You can’t talk Mike White out of anything, so I’ll just have to go on some different adventures this year and maybe go see Mike when they’re filming [Season 3].

Tanya dies when she falls off the boat and hits her head on the dinghy. Did she not see the ladder?

Tanya didn’t notice! Mike White finds it very funny that I can handle big things but can’t handle small things. Like, I won’t be able to do something big because I don’t know how to use my phone or something.

These little things bother me. It was so me, and I even heard Mike say that to someone else. I missed something that might have saved my life.

Are you talking as you, Jennifer, or as the character Tanya?

I’m saying that Mike took that idea from me, Jennifer Coolidge, and turned it into Tanya’s ignorance.

How did you put that scene together?

On a rough boat, it was late at night. After Season 1 of “White Lotus,” I told Mike I never wanted to be on a boat again, but I had to be on two yachts. I felt really sick. I don’t do well in these boats.

On that boat, I didn’t feel good for a long time and had to kill people and run around. On that boat, there was a lot of moving around.

Tanya had already seen the photo and told Portia about Quentin and Jack, so why do you think it took her so long to put everything together and plan her escape? She didn’t want to believe it, or she was too scared to move.

Mike wrote these scenes as if they were from a dream: “Did I really see that? Is that real, or am I just making it up?” Tanya is a very broken person who isn’t always nice, but she would never kill someone or do anything else bad. It’s hard for a naive, innocent person to imagine someone who doesn’t mind killing someone else.

People on juries often say things like, “I thought he was innocent because I don’t think anyone could kill their own child or wife.” Like, oh my God! Every day, they do it! Someone does that somewhere in the world.

People don’t believe something until they’re way too far into it, because it’s too hard for them to admit to themselves that there’s evil like that in the world. No one wants to think this is true.

Tanya asks Quentin in her last moments if Greg is seeing someone else. How does that describe her?

So much is said in that line. One, women really care about that. And don’t forget that this is a drama-comedy. This show is full of funny parts. Tanya wants to know the answer to that question, even though there are dead bodies all over the floor and the scene is very scary.

I thought it was great when I read it. She really wants to know, too. People want to know if she really understood everything. She talks to Portia about putting the pieces together, but that deep denial is just crazy.

How does it feel to be a gay icon who kills a group of “high-end gays” who were planning to kill you?

This sounds like Mike White. I wouldn’t have thought of that situation on my own, it wouldn’t have crossed my mind. Gay men can be mean, but in most of the movies I’ve seen, they’re the good guys.

But Mike White made these guys look like they had no souls and were very bad. He told me, “You end up falling for this group of, well, let’s just say they’re evil gays.” I was so captivated, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Tanya isn’t on to them, but she’s finally being appreciated, and for the first time on this terrible trip, she’s having a good time.

Do you know that the phrase “These gays are trying to kill me” has become a meme?

Yes, I have gotten that from a few people this morning.

When you read the line, did you expect that to happen?

No. That was one of the last scenes I filmed for the show and I was sick and stuff. I should have thought of a lot of things that made sense.

So many different things are being sent to me. You don’t think about memes when you’re making a movie, for some reason. Maybe other people on the show were, but I didn’t know how to spot them.

Do you like one of the lines you made up on the spot?

I told Mike about one line, and he put it in the script. I had just bought a big house in New Orleans, and my father was upset because he thought I was in over my head. My aunt pulled me aside and said, “Sometimes, old buildings are more important than people.” And I told Mike White that, but he wrote it in a different way in the script.

Tanya says to Quentin on the boat, “Out there, there aren’t enough people who care about old buildings.” He does a great job of putting all of these things together.

Mike came up with one of my favorite lines, “These are some high-end gays.” I liked it when Tanya was happy because she was so sad for most of Season 1 and the first part of Season 2.

There’s another great line about how rich people don’t worry that you’ll steal their money, so they let you in. That’s the truth! I made a lot of things up on the spot. Some of them worked and some didn’t. But Mike White said 99.9% of my favorite lines.

How does it feel to say goodbye to Tanya McQuoid? What has “The White Lotus” meant to you and your career?

Coming out of COVID and making Season 1 of “White Lotus” was kind of the start of good times for me. To be able to act in this very cool story is a gift. Even though I know Mike White is a genius and all, I never thought “White Lotus” would be such a big deal.

I remember thinking, “This is good,” but there’s a lot of good stuff on TV that never gets any attention. I didn’t know what to expect, but it turned out to be this huge thing.

And staying on “White Lotus” for Season 2 changed my life. The deals! It doesn’t matter if I can do these projects or not. I never thought in a million years that I could do anything exciting.

There is comedy in “White Lotus,” but before that, my only dramatic role was in “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” which starred Nicolas Cage, and I don’t know how many people saw it. “White Lotus” has opened up a lot of doors for me, and Mike White will always be my friend.

I couldn’t have planned for this moment, and that’s one of the cool things about life: sometimes the best things are things you never thought of. Even after two years, I’m still in shock… Follow us only on Lee Daily for more news like this.

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