The Young Pope: Holy TV Goodness

Those that believe in God don’t believe in anything.

I’m currently writing this because I’m procrastinating doing something else. Something pretty big and important that I really should be doing, but instead I’m just resuscitating this blog and hoping that other thing gets sorted on its own. So, this is already starting as an insightful trip about religion.

I actually got into The Young Pope through a very random series of events. One could actually say the universe conspired for this to happen. One would be crazy if he/she said such a thing, but that’s beside the point. I’m currently the proud beneficiary of a free TVCine subscription because the people that provide this house with the joy of entertainment through TV and internet fucked some things up and I’m being compensated. Summed up, that means I get most HBO shows now. On my actual TV. Not on my PC downloaded from god know’s where. I’ve also been sick for the past three days, like properly sick, not the sick you use as an excuse to not go to your friend’s boring gathering or that useless class, I’ve been vomiting my insides for the past three days. Summed up, I’ve been watching a lot of TV.

A lot of that TV watching meant plowing through The Young Pope in two sittings. I have no regrets. No sins to confess. No shame. You should only feel ashamed if you haven’t watched this monumental, heaven sent, blessed by the gods, goddamn masterpiece that is The Young Pope.

I had heard of this show before because media I guess, it premiered at some movie festival right? I’m pretty sure. I saw things. I was intrigued. I like Jude Law. I’m sort of on the fence about Paolo Sorrentino. I was like fuck it, let’s go.

I was mad at myself for being such a non-believer twenty minutes into the first episode. I truly don’t want to spoil this show for anyone, and so much shit happens I’m not even sure what could be considered a spoiler, so I’m just going to refrain completely from mentioning plot points(except for the last paragraph, do not read that if you haven’t watched the entire show, do not do it, you have been warned). I have to talk characters though, cause damn, they’re so good. God sent, really.

Jude Law is a freaking monster in this thing. I like Jude Law, he’s a fine actor, but I never thought of him as an insanely great actor, like one of those actors you must have on some sort of top 10, watch all his filmography and go on interview rampages about. “He’s good”, that’s what I would have said, but in this thing,he is great, abso-fucking-lutely great. I’m actually going to call it. This is his best thing.Fucking Lenny Belardo is Jude Law’s best character. There, I wrote it. Lenny, our boy Pius XIII, has one of the coolest arcs and personalities I’ve seen on TV, the dude is an absolutely nonsensical, radical prick that occasionally comes up with some quotable shit that makes sense. And if that doesn’t sum up the Catholic church I don’t know what will. The Young Pope plays with the typical let’s make everyone love an asshole of a main character, but they nail it, they nail it so hard Jesus wouldn’t be coming down from that cross any time soon. That was a lame heresy of a joke. Sorry. Lenny is so perfectly built to be cool, loveable, smart, redeemable and overwhelmingly obnoxious you cannot escape his charisma. Goddamn is this a cool character. His mannerisms, the way he walks, the way he sits, the way he shuts his eyes reflecting on crap, the way he talks, it’s so seductive and so wrong, it’s great. Just fantastic. Clap, clap. His story has the formulaic ingredients of a very typical adult-child drama /partial rebirth meets partially overcoming the monster 101. Just your everyday scriptwriting. Which is the basis to the piles of values, principles, and superpowers that Belardo appears to have. It’s a God meets Tony Stark meets Bruce Wayne sort of thing.

Am I making any sense? No? Good. That’s something I’ve in common with Paolo Sorrentino. But that’s about it. None of the phenomenal artistry or storytelling abilities implied. This dude makes weird movies. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Sorrentino’s work is weirdly ironic, it’s satire that’s a bit too real to not hit way too close to home. That’s his thing. This show is 100% his thing. That’s what makes it 100% awesome. It jokes around with some pretty massive stuff, you know, life after death and faith and the human condition, your basic Sunday afternoon reflections. It carries so much expectation, because you never know what’s coming next, it’s so inconstant and yet to faithfully consistent. There’s real care in this script. And that’s the greatest of gems in filmmaking and tv and so on. It’s one thing coming across a great story, that’s good work on itself, coming up with a good idea and a cool bunch of characters to carry it. But you can tell, or at least in my mind I like to believe so, someone went into this looking at every single moment of these 10 episodes and questioning “how can we make this great”, “how can we make this more original”, how can we make this more meaningful”. And then they freaking sat down and came up with 10 hours of answers. Piled them up with pristine storyboards and godsent camera work and gave birth to an entire season that keeps you on the edge at every second, that allows you way more laughs than you should allow yourself, that seduces you shamelessly while making you ashamed of your own thoughts on what’s coming next. You seriously could pick up any moment of this show and you know it would be great. There are no fillers. I’ve never said that about any TV thing in my life, I’ve never even thought it before, this show has literally no fillers, everything is there for a reason, and all reasons are awesome reasons.

The relationships between characters are great. The women make all the decisions, Jude lets his guard down basically only for the chicks, they sway him at will, despite the fact he cannot be bent in any way by the almighty cardinals. They all have satisfactory arcs, you find yourself thinking that the villains from the first episodes are the greatest allies by the end. You notice the irony in the web of hypocrisy and deceitfulness they form and you can’t help but feel delightfully cheated on. Dichotomies, The Young Pope is made of those. Tough matters get a place at the stage, we all know that means pedophilia and homosexuality for the Catholic church, but they don’t take center stage. For a while, I thought that was a coward move, but now I feel like this probably wasn’t the right place to take those things on, after all this story is about Lenny. Therefore, the dosage was OK.

The set design, the locations, the wardrobe. All things popping up on the screen are masterfully executed. The soundtrack is a fantastic companion, it’s just so fresh, so alive and so perfectly in sync without going unnoticed. Awesome. There’s not one wrong thing I could throw at it. Also, I feel the show is pretty humble on its own accomplishments, which is even more awesome. You know those sort of scripts that are super meta but they want you to know they are super meta and were written by geniuses so they shove their supposedly hidden signals in your face so you acknowledge how great they are? This is not one of those scripts. Still genius though.

The Young Pope is awesome. Please watch it. Whatever your religious situation might be, I think you can benefit from it. If not in some deep, insightful reflective way, at least it’s hella fun.


I can’t believe they killed him off. Next season/next show/whatever it is that they’re doing next is called The New Pope, so I don’t think there’s much room for speculation. Still, goddamn. I wasn’t done with this one. Not cool, bros. Not cool.

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