We Should Give ‘The Young Pope’ An Emmy

It is insane that The Young Pope is not nominated in a major Emmy category. Insane. It makes me angry, and it makes me angry that it makes me angry, because the award shows are silly and political and not worth getting angry about, and yet, here I am, seething like an idiot. Just livid. How did we not nominate The Young Pope for any major Emmy awards? Not even one. Jesus Christ.

The case for it is so simple. The Young Pope was big and bold and very, very ambitious, in a way that most shows aren’t. It was beautiful to look at, almost always, thanks to the attention to color and framing by creator Paolo Sorrentino that could take your breath away at times. (The series did pick up a much-deserved nomination for Outstanding Cinematography in a Limited Series, which it lost to The Night Of in the earlier ceremony last week.) It was nothing if not a singular television experience, at a time when we’re allegedly celebrating that. And once you sifted through some of the self-aware silliness of it all, there was a pretty touching story in there about loneliness and ambition and family. It had all of the things that arthouse film critics fall off their bicycles with excitement about. Hell, turn the whole thing maybe 30 degrees to the left and look at it again and you can basically call it Oscar-Bait: The TV Show.

I want to stress here that I am very serious about this. I understand if and why you might think I am not, because I spent the better part of a year having fun with the show. I had my reasons for this, like, for example, the fact that was literally called The Young Pope and there was a kangaroo bouncing around the Vatican gardens and at one point Jude Law got dressed up in his Pope clothes during a montage set to LMFAO. It was a whole thing. And you could, if you were so inclined, make an argument that my coverage of the show — and the coverage by people like me — is part of the reason it didn’t get nominated, because focusing on the weirder and goofier aspects of it might have led some voters to believe it was not a serious program.

On the other hand, don’t you dare come at me with this in a year when House of Cards was nominated for Outstanding Drama. You can’t reward one show for this…

… while penalizing another for this.

At least The Young Pope was honest about being a little silly sometimes. I mean, we all saw Voiello’s mole.

And another thing: Look at some of the things that did get nominated ahead of The Young Pope. The Limited Series category is not exactly stacked this year. Big Little Lies was good and will probably win because it is a big HBO series populated with movie stars, but The Night Of and this season of Fargo were both up and down, Feud was… fine (it was fine), and one nomination went to NatGeo’s Einstein show, Genius, somehow. It’s madness that The Young Pope didn’t crack this field, for all the reasons I mentioned above and also because the reason I just gave for Big Little Lies probably winning (“it is a big HBO series populated with movie stars”) also applies word-for-word to The Young Pope. Maybe Jude Law and Diane Keaton don’t shine with quite the same wattage as Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, but still. Those two just spent half a season staring into the ocean, anyway. I don’t think they even tried to shoot a basketball. You know who did? Diane Keaton.


I bet, prior to this year, you thought you’d never get to see Diane Keaton shoot a basketball. Well guess what: you did, because Diane Keaton and The Young Pope take risks, dammit. We should give her and the show an Emmy just for that.

Actually, no. Wait. This is a good idea. We should just give the show an Emmy. Its own, not even part of a category, like how aging stars will get career achievement awards. Anything else would be a miscarriage of justice after a ceremony filled with egregious snubs. And it’s fitting, too, since The Young Pope was unlike anything else on television this year, in a whole pile of ways. It almost shouldn’t even be in a category with other shows. Yes, I like this. We give The Young Pope the first ever Emmy for Outstanding Achievement In The Field Of Just Really Going For It. Bring the kangaroo up on stage with the cast to accept the award, and put it in a tuxedo. Let The Young Pope revel in all of its ambitious weirdness right there in front of God and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and everyone, trophies in hands or pouches, bathing in the recognition it so richly deserves.

It’s the only reasonable thing to do.