The Young Pope – its name and trailer both create a picture of this wicked and radical Pope who is in to change the archaic Vatican, one rule at a time. However here is the truth – they lied and you will happily lap up the lie. You and the Vatican are in for a shock, because Pope Pius XIIl is only for the fanatics and he is the Pope who reveres opulence and struts in his blood red shoes.
For people who know a little bit about the Vatican history, Papal shoes are a point of interest after the papal conclave. These shoes are often known to predict the path of action of the newly elected pope. The usual choices are Red, Brown and Black, Historically Popes who have donned these red papal shoes have been controversial (Francis wears Black, we’re safe)
This unwittingly funny and erratic narrative consumes you in the eccentricities and bizarre decisions of this Young Pope or Lenny the orphan as how he prefers it sometimes. Soon you realise the least of his eccentricities include his love for some good ol’ cigarettes and Cherry Coke Zero. And all through it, you and members of Vatican wonder, ‘What does he really want?’, ‘What does he stand for?’, ‘Why is he so deliciously grey?’ (Sorry Lord for I’ve sinned)
Grey also seems the general theme of the show and no, I am not talking about the number of old actors in it; almost every single person on screen is painted grey, they are all sinners in their own little way.
Notable character development is seen in Sister Mary, little Lenny’s caretaker and now Pope Pius XIII’s right hand in the Vatican, she believes Lenny is a saint but doesn’t miss the first chance to stop Lenny’s alleged madness.
And my personal favourite, Cardinal Voiello. This Cardinal Secretary of State enjoys a little bit of notoriety in the Vatican. However, in my opinion he is the only good guy out there. His vice you ask? This Cardinal is a staunch football fan you don’t want to meet when Team Naples loses.
Nevertheless it is Jude Law who is the real hero and deserves all the glory in the world for his portrayal of Lenny Belardo. His on-screen charm and acting prowess makes you loath, empathise and blindly believe in him all at the same time. Two of my favourite scenes are his first address to the cardinals in episode 5. Another is a blink-and-miss part in episode 7 with the pipe where you realise over the top performances can be a visual treat too. Jude Law’s command over his voice is incredible which makes all of his speeches a delight to watch even when you cannot see his face. His on-screen presence and the dichotomy within, more than the story alone, keep you curious and make you come back episode after episode.
Themes such being an orphan, power of love, seeking your dreams, death and all of these in many ways questioning the existence of God are tackled through rich dream sequences, flashbacks and visions and long drawn interactions of different characters and animals. The show also has very strong Catholic imagery referring to Jesus, the Virgin Mary and crucifixion.
However there are also a lot of exposed side tracks which end abruptly without much resolution and open to interpretation which probably might startle viewers.
Paolo Sorrentino the writer and director deserves a medal. Along with creating these wonderfully complicated and unwittingly funny characters he also manages to capture the magnificence of the Vatican in all its glory. Every scene is hyperbolic and drips in rich colours from elaborate domes of Vatican to its wide and beautiful gardens where nuns are often seen playing football. Sorrentino manages to give you a sneak peek into the coveted Catholic life we all have seen but only from afar.
A special shout out to the people who composed the background score for the show, this show boasts titles from EDM songs like Devlin’s remix of Watchtower to classical String Quartet numbers and do watch out for ‘I’m sexy and I know it’ as you see Pope Pius XIII getting ready for his first cardinal address.
This show is a beautiful amalgamation of Lenny’s metamorphosis into Pope Pius XIII and before you know it you’re a part of this glorious coming of age story, where Lenny acknowledges love in all it’s power and you understand Pius Xlll for the true saint that he is. The Young Pope is probably one of the most ridiculously beautiful work of creations I’ve come across in a long time.
I know the second season is already coming out, we don’t know if Jude Law is going to be a part of it. As a human I would love to see Jude Law in any form on TV. I mean look at that man! But, as someone who has seen Lenny grow I probably am happy with the end I’ve got. It has provided me the closure as I sought. But as they say “Lord almighty resurrects and the Lord loves Jude Law.”
Let’s see what The New Pope brings in. This is for sure that it would be a visual treat!
About the Writer
Manjiri is an avid reader and a textbook introvert who prefers the company of four legged furballs over her 4 friends. When she isn’t squealing about animals she prefers reading fantasy fiction and watching crime documentaries. Manjiri aspires to become a meme overlord someday and rule the internet !