Haley Lu Richardson Doesn't Get Why The Internet Picks Apart Portia In The White Lotus Season 2

This post contains spoilers for "The White Lotus" Season 2.

Pretty much every character in season 2 of "The White Lotus" is despicable in their own way, but one character, in particular, has gotten a lot of hate from the fans. Cameron might be crude, Dominic might be a cheater, and Valentina might be rigid, but none of them are quite as universally disliked as Portia. So, what about Haley Lu Richardson's character makes her so very unlikeable?

Working as Tanya's assistant, Portia joins her boss in Sicily on what is supposed to be a romantic getaway with her new husband, Greg. Greg demands that Portia leave as soon as they arrive, but Tanya insists that she stay in secret. Portia at first feels condemned — to Sicily, to her room, and to her job. Working-class people like Portia would normally never get the chance to stay in a luxury resort like The White Lotus, but she treats the vacation of a lifetime like a death sentence. Even if she truly was forced to stay in her insanely lavish hotel room and order room service on her boss' dime, would that really be so bad?

She mopes around the hotel for a day before she finds Albie, an Italian-American boy on vacation with his family. He invites Portia to sight-see with his family and she reluctantly accepts, but the centuries-old ruins of the city don't seem to excite her, and neither does Albie. When she finds out that he is "the nice one" and in relationships, she curbs his advances and sets her sights on a tattooed lad from Essex named Jack. The trope of a woman picking the "nice guy" in favor of a "bad boy" is so overdone it's become a psychological phenomenon, but even still, audiences seemed to really, really detest Portia.

For one thing, it's the outfits

A quick scroll on social media shows that fans of "The White Lotus" season 2 found Portia's, erm, questionable taste in fashion particularly hateable. Haley Lu Richardson was costumed head-to-toe in mismatched microtrends and looked like the past five years of Instagram dopamine-dressing ada threw up on her. According to Richardson, this was a totally intentional move, down to Portia's very last airport look.

"I as Portia was always drawn, if I was given an option, to the thing that was less expected and more off," the actress explained to Variety. "I think that it makes sense for her — like, she is off. She's at a really transitional, stuck, messy, chaotic, trying-her-best vulnerable place in her life. So when it came to her physical look, I was always drawn to the thing that reflected that." 

Her very last outfit got a lot of backlash from fans, but Richardson was quick to defend her character's fashion choices. "It's like, she literally has been kidnapped," Richardson exclaimed. "She's been in the same outfit for two days. She literally just almost died. So what do you expect her to be, like, a fashion icon? I'm confused what people expect of this young woman." 

Ultimately, the actress doesn't understand why her character in particular has garnered such a strong dislike. "It is alarming how critical the internet has been to her," she reflected. "Because this show is filled with f***** up personalities ... it's, like, really? Portia, of all these people, is the one that you're labeling the villain of the season?"

Richardson says Portia got exactly what she wanted, in a 'twisted' way

Most of the other characters in season 2 of "The White Lotus" are even worse than Portia, but they are balanced out by likable qualities. For example, Tanya is self-centered and mentally unstable, but she's also the most hilarious character in the series. Portia is both pessimistic and naive, which makes her difficult to sympathize with. She is also very slow to realize that she is in imminent danger, which makes her frustrating to watch.

Haley Lu Richardson, however, came to her character's defense. "[S]he was a part of getting herself into this mess," the actress admitted to Variety. "But also, it's not entirely her fault. She's just trying her best. She's stuck and desperate, and this is where she's ended up. And it's kind of a worst-case scenario outcome for her or anyone."

In the end, Portia got exactly what she wanted — it just didn't pan out quite as she'd envisioned. "She got a caveman that is not on Instagram, she got thrown around in Italy, she got an adventure," Richardson explained. "But it was just like, the most kind of twisted, deeply f***** up version of that."

It seems like Portia learned her lesson while managing to make it out alive, so fans and haters of Portia alike can both rest easy. As for whether Albie really has a second chance at Portia's heart, we'll just have to wait for season 3 to find out. It would be kind of hilarious if series creator Mike White brought back a character that was so reviled by the audience, and honestly, I wouldn't put it past him.