The Young Pope was a comet streaking across the television sky, burning fast and bright and filling the black night with a sparkling glow. There’s really no other way to describe it. Paolo Sorrentino’s HBO series ran just 10 episodes, with two debuting each week for about a month, and in that time it managed to tell a moving story about loss and loneliness and family and redemption and the frustrating resilience of large institutions and about five other things, too. It was beautiful in story and beautiful in looks and just straight-up unlike anything else on television before or since.
It was also, if we’re giving a full and fair picture of the show as a whole, as crazy and chaotic as a bag of snakes. Australia gave the Pope a kangaroo and the kangaroo roamed the garden in the Vatican until it was murdered by protesters. Diane Keaton played a nun who would unwind by shooting hoops and it pleases me to report that Diane Keaton is very bad at basketball. The Young Pope — played by Jude Law — actually said “I am the young pope” at one point. At another point, he said this, which is one of the greatest lines of dialogue I’ve ever encountered.
This is just a sketch. You can’t truly explain The Young Pope in one paragraph or even two. I insist you watch it. I insist you all watch it. It is somehow much better than you think it is and much crazier than you think it is. You won’t even believe it. It’s almost definitely the most flabbergasting show I’ve ever seen, and I have seen a television show in which a character played by Judith Light does a line of cocaine out of an ornate golden box at a rodeo and then says “Mmm. Mama like.”
All of which is a preamble to the real news of the day: The follow-up series to The Young Pope, the exquisitely titled The New Pope, is becoming more real by the day and I could not possibly be more excited. Here’s the first official teaser trailer. If you’re sitting there thinking, “Hmm, I wonder if Jude Law will be strolling down a beach in a Speedo while throngs of women alternate between playing volleyball and gawking at him,” then buddy, you have a pretty good grasp on what kind of show we’re dealing with. Look at God and be thankful for Him.
Perhaps, as you watched that clip, you noticed the presence of a second character, one who looks a lot like John Malkovich. There’s a good reason for that: John Malkovich is also in The New Pope. In fact, John Malkovich is The New Pope. There is a television show on the way in which Jude Law and John Malkovich both play popes. Please think about that for a while. At least 10 minutes. Preferably not as long as I’ve been thinking about it (every single second since the casting was announced, even in my dreams and when I’m driving a car on an unfamiliar road), just for your own sake. Let’s top it out at 30 minutes for now.
“Ahhh,” you say after thinking about it for 10-30 minutes as requested. “But how? How can there be two popes at the same time?” Oh, I am glad you asked. I am so glad you asked. Look at this quote from Sorrentino in a recent Variety interview:
The concept is simple. The basic idea is to latch on to the end of the first season. The pope, played by Jude Law, goes into a coma that, from a scientific standpoint, is considered irreversible and can only end up in death. So the church has to resort to a new pope, who is played by John Malkovich. But since we are in a territory where reason is overtaken by spiritual mysteries and by God, Jude Law’s coma may not be so irreversible. It may have some unexpected novelties, so that two popes can co-exist in the episodes that follow.
A few thoughts:
- It says everything you need to know about this show that its creator says “the concept is simple” and then proceeds to lay out a scenario involving irreversible comas and spiritual mysteries and dueling popes played by Jude Law and John Malkovich
- I love very much that Paolo Sorrentino cares not one kangaroo-murdering iota about spoiling the entire premise of this season months before it even begins
- Given everything we saw in season one, there is no way to rule out the possibility that this all gets settled in the octagon, with Jude Law and John Malkovich scrapping for the papacy as a crowd of bloodthirsty cardinals whoops from the bleachers
Are you excited yet? Are you excited for The New Pope? I legitimately do not know how you couldn’t be. Look at all the words I just typed. Look at the trailer again. It ends with some sort of virginal Mary-type in a baby blue shawl fainting after Jude Law and his washboard abs saunter past her in that Speedo. It’s all already so much that adding anything else to it feels indulgent. Like we should go to church to repent for being given so much. Like we’ve sinned just by trying to contemplate it all.
Well, if all of that amounts to a sin of excess, I’ll see you all in hell because this is happening, too.
MARILYN MANSON IS IN THE NEW POPE.
AS SOMEONE WHO APPARENTLY WORKS IN THE VATICAN.
SHARON STONE IS ALSO IN THE NEW POPE.
I FEEL LIKE I SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED THAT EARLIER BUT THERE WERE SO MANY OTHER THINGS TO SAY.
JUDE LAW MIRACULOUSLY RECOVERS FROM A COMA.
JOHN MALKOVICH IS… DOING MALKOVICH THINGS.
AT NO POINT HAS ANYONE EXPLICITLY RULED OUT THE POSSIBILITY THAT ANOTHER KANGAROO WILL SHOW UP.
IT’S ALL HAPPENING SO MUCH IN SO MANY WAYS AND IT HASN’T EVEN STARTED YET.
We are all incredibly blessed.