It might be a reaction to COVID lockdowns or just a coincidence, but streaming TV lately has been saturated with stories revolving either wholly or partially around holidays. Let’s call them vacation narratives.

These stories often feature a set of superficial attractions – appealing shots of beaches such as those seen in Netflix movie The Lost Daughter , based on an Elena Ferrante novel, with the location switched from the author’s native Italy to the Greek islands. Here however the romance of the setting is undermined by the harshness of the human behaviour it places under the microscope.

Murray Bartlett, Jolene Purdy, Lukas Gage, and Natasha Rothwell in The White Lotus The White Lotus

The story revolves around a middle-aged academic (Olivia Coleman) who can’t forget that as a young woman (Jessie Buckley) she struggled against, and temporarily escaped, motherhood. The beautiful holiday setting works as ironic counterpoint to the negative emotions and alienating behaviour at the tale’s heart.

Other vacation narratives might prominently feature historic backdrops as...