What would happen to the Catholic Church if an extremely young, extremist, American cardinal was voted to the highest position of the congregation?
That is what HBO's newest limited drama series hopes to unravel. This controversial and psychological approach to the office of the papacy focuses on the inner politics that surround the everyday in the world's smallest sovereign nation. Directed by Academy Award winning director Paolo Sorrentino, the world of Pope Pius the 13th quickly becomes a chaotic battle for power in an otherwise peaceful religion on the brink of self-destruction.
With the basis being the fictional election of a young American cardinal to the papacy, the show spends a lot of time delving into the contradiction that is the central figure of the soul behind the Holy Father, Lenny Belardo, played by Jude Law. Some staunch Catholics could see this as wrong, rude, and crossing the line. The Pope is a holy figure, and to paint him in the light that Lenny Belardo portrays is an insult to the institution. I don't. I think HBO has every right to produce a show like this because it is not about Catholicism, or the Pope, or religion. It is about politics, diplomacy, belief and tenants, and underestimating someone based on their age and previous stances.
The dark themes of secrecy, trust, power, and manipulation make this show a perfect fit next to HBO's success with Game of Thrones, Westworld, and The Sopranos. It has the right amount of sexy (its HBO, so of course there's going to be NSFW themes riddled throughout the episodes. Viewer's discretion is advised). As long as HBO keeps the balance between fiction and truth, the show should be a riveting political drama, perfect for fans of House of Cards, and just enough fiction to be enjoyable if Game of Thrones is too wild for you.
I am really enjoying the show so far. It's an intriguing concept, since there has not been an American that has been voted to the papacy. The current Pope, Francis the 1, is the first from the Americas (he's from Argentina), but no one from the United States. I love the twisted mind that is Lenny Belardo, how he is a constant contradiction and has a strange charisma that leaves you wanting more and more.
The Young Pope is definitely a show to keep an eye on. The episode layouts are somewhat strange, but it showcases the themes and political turmoil in a way that piques interest of anyone. It's dynamic, dark, mysterious, controversial and even revolutionary. I enjoy shows that question societal norms and has a healthy dose of politics, deceit, and myth. Since is it a limited drama, it won't be around for long, but I am definitely looking forward to what the creators have in store. We'll just have to wait and see if it can keep up with dragons, western artificial intelligence, and an infamous Italian mobster family.