The Young Pope is an upcoming series that was developed by Sky Atlantic and Canal+ for European audiences and will be shown in America early next year on HBO. It stars Jude Law and Diane Keaton, and was created by Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty). It is also my favorite show in the entire world even though I have yet to see a single episode. It had me at the title The Young Pope and that picture of Jude Law in his fancy pope sunhat. Just based on those two things alone it’s already better than, say, Ray Donovan. I don’t know. I’ve never seen Ray Donovan, either. Does Liev Schreiber ever wear a hat that looks like the one Jude Law has on up there? No? Hmm. Well I guess I stand by my point, then.
I have been thinking about the show pretty frequently since I saw the teaser trailer last month (not an unreasonable amount, just like 6-7 hours a day), so what I’m going to do is collect some of those thoughts and lay out what we know so far about it, with the goal of explaining why this whole thing lives in my brain now. Here are nine questions about The Young Pope.
What is The Young Pope about?
Let’s get this straight from HBO:
‘The Young Pope’ tells the controversial story of the beginning of Pius XIII’s pontificate. Born Lenny Belardo, he is a complex and conflicted character, so conservative in his choices as to border on obscurantism, yet full of compassion towards the weak and poor. The first American pope, Pius XIII is a man of great power who is stubbornly resistant to the Vatican courtiers, unconcerned with the implications to his authority.
And Sorrentino says it will focus on “the inner struggle between the huge responsibility of the Head of the Catholic Church and the miseries of the simple man that fate (or the Holy Spirit) chose as Pontiff” as well as “how to handle and manipulate power in a state whose dogma and moral imperative is the renunciation of power and selfless love towards one’s neighbor.”
So, to sum it up in a sentence, it appears to be kind of like House of Cards, but if Frank Underwood cared about poor people and was Catholic.
Did you catch the thing in there where Jude Law’s character was named “Lenny Belardo” before he became pope?
Because that’s important. Jude Law is playing an American man from New York named Lenny Belardo. Lenny Belardo. What a perfect name. It just rolls together perfectly, almost like one word. Lennybelardo. It sounds like the name of a union boss on Law & Order who knows more about a murder than he’s letting on. I really recommend, if you want to get the full experience here, that you try saying “Ayyyyy it’s me, Lenny Belardo, the Young Pope” in your best cartoon New Yorker voice. I promise you that you won’t be able to stop. I’ve been doing it for a full month now.
It’s also fun to imagine how you would react if an American guy named Lenny Belardo got elected pope. Or maybe like a guy named Trevor. Or maybe a pope with a more normal name who decides to go by Pope Trevor once he gets in there. A pope can do that, you know. There are really no rules to the whole naming business. There are generally accepted practices, sure, like choosing the name of a previous pope or religious figure they’d like to emulate, but it’s not like anyone is gonna stop you. No pope had ever gone by Francis until the current one chose it. And even if someone did want to stop you from picking “Trevor,” I mean, who could? You’re the pope.
Does this pope negotiate?
This pope does not negotiate.
How can we be sure, though?
At one point in the teaser trailer, someone — possibly Lenny Belardo himself — says the following: “This pope does not negotiate… on anything… or with anyone.”