Young Pope (HBO)
In a nutshell, this is a 10 episode “limited series” about the first American elected to Pope. Jude Law plays Lenny, a boy dropped off at a Catholic orphanage at an early age who becomes Pope Pious XIII. I have to get this out of the way; Jude Law has an American accent that needs some work. His accent is non-regional but has been mixed with a jumbling of accents. There are times that you want the scene to change just so he stops talking but he is very charismatic no matter the scene. Pious XIII is only 47 years old (the youngest in hundreds of years) and was elected not by his merits but as a political move by one of the Cardinal factions. The show makes a point to reinforce that fact that very little was known about his view of the Catholic Church prior to his election. People just made assumptions based on their own conclusions. The Cardinals think they can manipulate him to their will and be the ones in charge. How far from the truth they go!
Pious XIII is far from what the Cardinal suspected. He is abrasive, independent, and a paradox. He is shown to be deeply faithful one scene (privately praying) and then telling a priest he doubts God’s existence another scene. He wants to bring people closer to God, but does not want to be seen by the public (going so far as to darken the balcony for the first Papal address) at all. He is an obviously kind man but also merciless when he is speaking to others. He loves being the Pope, but hates the ceremonial duties. There are so many more but more than all, he will not be controlled by anyone.
This show is a great demonstration of sometimes the Devil that you do know is better than the Devil that you do. Before Papal election, ANY research was done about Lenny, he would have shown to be a TERRIBLE choice as the Pope. One of my favorite stories he tells has him punishing Bishops and Cardinals by sending them to Alaska (TWICE).
That being said this show is GREAT! The mix of dark humor, power jockeying, political intrigue, and a fantastic ensemble cast of characters makes this show addictive. I watched all four (what is currently available) episodes back to back. The three main story arches are building gracefully but one of the aspects of Pope Pious XIII that I am most interested in is: “Is he just playing everyone?”. There is a level of the character that does things so outlandish and there are snippets of dialogue where maybe there is more than meets the eye. He is a person that never had control until now and yet he does not come to me as power hungry. There is a smirk at the end of the title sequence that I think is the most telling of the whole show. Maybe all of his wild new rules are part of one larger scheme he has created. We will have to wait and see!