Like many HBO shows, White Lotus hasn’t shied away from nudity and sex (viewers were basically greeted with full frontal). But it was the butt-centric sex scene between hotel manager Armond and his subordinate that really got the internet talking, especially about how the scene was being performed. And now, as the season finale is set to air Sunday, Murray Bartlett wants viewers to give his character, Armond, a break.
“I think you could make an argument for anything in terms of, does everyone have sex exactly the same?” Bartlett told BuzzFeed News. “Do you always do the one thing the same way every time?”
For those who may have missed the fourth episode of White Lotus, Armond is on a drug-induced binge and takes his flirtation with his subordinate Dillon (Lukas Gage) to the next level, inviting him to “party” in his office at the resort.
“Listen, I’m obsessed with you. I want to get you naked. What do I gotta do?” Armond asks.
The two take drugs, start to kiss, and get more intimate. When things start to heat up, Armond’s nemesis, hotel guest Shane Patton (Jake Lacy), and resort employee Belinda (Natasha Rothwell) accidentally walk in on Armond, well, eating Dillon’s ass. But some fans of the show had specific criticisms and feedback about Armond’s technique.
“The guy in white lotus getting his ass ate aint even bent over. How does that work?” Twitter user @thannyxox wrote.
“[Y]eah daddy lightly press your nose against the top of my crack that’s it,” Twitter user @misterjench replied to another critique of the scene.
“Him STANDING UP instead of bent over the desk… where is the realism,” @TomZohar added.
But Bartlett is defending the scene, saying there’s more than one way to perform a sex act. And besides, viewers have to consider the circumstances.
“These two are really high; it's kind of messy sex,” he said. “I don't know whether they're in a different configuration just before the door opens. To me, I think the configuration works for the moment. I feel like it's very easy to justify in the given circumstances. I feel like whatever you choose, someone will think that maybe it would be better to do something else, so at the end of the day, you just have to be like, ‘Let’s go with this.’”
The now-iconic scene was actually a suggestion from the actors involved. Gage told the AV Club that their characters were originally supposed to be caught having sex, but then he and Bartlett thought it would be more riveting to switch things up.
“We said, ‘Wouldn’t it be more interesting if [Dillon’s] getting his salad tossed?’” Gage said. “I mean, how often do we see that on TV? I think it’s much more interesting and more jarring to walk in on.”
Bartlett recounted that working with Gage was a great experience because he was fun and up for a challenge.
“You always hope, when you’re doing those intimate scenes, both of you feel comfortable, and to a certain extent, you kind of just open up and are sort of uninhibited so that you can be incredibly respectful of each other, but just sort of play and find the right way that it works,” Bartlett said. “We had a lot of fun figuring out what it was going to be and how we would do it. We just kind of dove into it with a good sense of humor.”