Drop Everything and Catch Up on ‘The Young Pope’

Before a jury of my peers, I’d like to present the following argument:


HBO’s The Young Pope is a venerable work of art worth its weight in poetic tears expelled by my own two ducts. This shit is good. It’s pause-when-your-roommate-coughs levels of good. It won’t be a fortnight before I quit my job to start selling WWTYPD T-shirts on the L train that read “WHO THE FUCK KNOWS?!?!?!” on the back, which I will do as soon as I look up how long a fortnight is. (Also that’s a good shirt idea; don’t steal that.)

Maybe you have yet to watch and are thinking, “What’s the big deal? Sounds boring!” To which I’d patronizingly reply: “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a histrionic pope, of a tender 47 and played by a strapping Jude Law, must be intolerably stupid.” (I’m sorry, that was an offensive hijacking of a Jane Austen aphorism about the importance of reading, but it holds in this case I feel like.)

The first time I watched the The Young Pope I myself was a woman of a tender 27, bleary-eyed and cynical about the condition of the world. I’m still that way — this was like two weeks ago — but I now refer to that dark time as BTYP. If you, too, want to leave your past behind with the false comfort of an acronym, I implore you to cancel your weekend plans and catch up. Episodes seven and eight air this Sunday and Monday, respectively. (Yes, it’s on twice a week, not that we deserve it.)

Ten reasons why:

Reason #1: Pope style

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The Pope always looks amazing. His gowns/robes/not sure what you call them are whiter/fresher than the walls of your favorite minimalist blogger’s condo in 2013. His hats are inspirationally large and act as a physical barrier for the plebes who wish to get close to him.

Reason #2: Pretty nature

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A lot of the show is shot in very sunny weather in a green and thriving garden, which, face it, your trash attitude, cold heart and tired eyes need rn.

Reason #3: Someone smeared the camera lens with vaseline

This is calming and good for your cholesterol.

Reason #4: The silence

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It’s very quiet. Watching it is basically akin to meditating for the low price of an HBO sub/the lingering guilt you feel for still using your ex’s dad’s login.

Reason #5: The eerie parallels to you-know-who

It starts raining during his inaugural papal address…

Reason #6: Jude Law

Jude Law murders this role. I hope he wins 10,455 Emmys and Golden Globes and why not a VMA for it. Second only to him is his fake hair, which does an incredible job of acting like real hair.

Reason #7: It’s surreal

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Aside from just generally being gorgeous to look at, the show is set in this sort of parallel universe that resembles ours but not entirely. The surreal edge to it makes it feel like an escape, which is vital. There’s also a kangaroo in it.

Reason #8: The slow and careful plot

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Don’t complain about this. Just think of all your undiagnosed anxiety. You need this.

Reason #9: The soundtrack

When it’s not silent, The Young Pope sounds so good: a mix of electronic and classical music and a haunting original score. It’s the sound of you putting your Sunday Scaries in a blender and drinking them like a gym bro drinks his protein.

Reason #10: The young Pope

This best part of this show is that it’s about a Pope that is young. I don’t know if I mentioned that. Like he’s younger than most Popes. He smokes nonstop cigarettes inside the church, drinks Cherry Coke Zero, manipulates the shit out of everyone and is just a full-stop outrageous and unpredictable psychopath who you may or may not develop a conflicted crush on.

Pls watch. Thank you so much.

Photos courtesy of HBO.

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  • Tierney Elizabeth Gilroy

    this jaunt is anti catholic

    • Francesco Pergolini

      Its absolutely not anti catholic (I am)…Watch it until the very end . Last episodes are so beautiful , uplifting and heartwarming . Absolutely not anti-catholic or anti-religion ,

    • BarbieBush

      No way!!! How? Not criticizing just want to know. It is maaaybe sacrilegious..just because they are showing the vatican political side of things and it isn’t reaaaally putting Roman Catholic hierarchy in a good light. But young pope himself is pretty in-line with conservative Catholic ideas.

  • OMG thank you!! Been addicted to this show for the last few weeks! His British lady hat! The little red shoes! The kangaroo?! What does this kangaroo even mean?!?! And the music is so so soooo good. It’s sexy and weird and your description for it is purrrfect. Can we get a weekly recap like GoT plzzzz?

    • Haley Nahman

      Omg I want to!!!! But I think it’s too late. Next season?!

      • Yes that would be the greatest!!

  • Chetna Singh

    Check out the opening music and video as he walks past the paintings and how they change..it’s pretty much amazing!

    • Krista Anna Lewis

      I’VE BEEN SO OBSESSED WITH THIS. I want there to be so much meaning in it but IDK

  • mollie blackwood

    Agreed… but it’s so boring though.

    • Haley Nahman

      lol you need this!

  • Teresa

    I loooved it!! everything is perfect! music, filming, jude law, diane keaton!! it’s a must-watch just for its beauty (it premiered back in october in Europe)
    You should write about the last episodes too!

  • BarbieBush

    omg I laughed heartily and aloud at this. I can’t even tell if you like the show or not.

    • Haley Nahman

      I LOVE IT!

      • BarbieBush

        I can’t even tell if I like this show. Started it and I keep watching it so I guess I do? But what is happening??? Nothing, like nothing is happening. WHEN WILL SOMETHING HAPPEN? It took like 7 episodes just to see gay sex. And even Dussolier’s sad conclusion feels like it doesn’t matter. I think I am in it for the visuals and perversion as I am nonpracticing but fully informed Catholic. And even the visuals are confusing..what the frick was that opening scene with presumably baby-pope crawling over the other (dead?) babies. ALSO Diane Keaton is so undervalued in this..but that virgin shirt she wears..DEAD.

        I didn’t finish the season BUT I am waiting for…all the shit to turn around when some public miracle of YP’s occurs AND Diane Keaton to be exposed as Lenny and Dussolier’s real mom.

  • Kevin Oliver

    My fiancee loves this show as much as i do and shes catholic.
    Its irreverant but highly entertaining.
    I give it three thumbs up

  • Lindsey

    yes!! i just watched the first episode last night and felt so inexplicably drawn in. i love it!!

    • Lindsey

      Also, his robes are called vestments. not that i’m correcting, but you seemed like maybe you wanted to know?

      • Haley Nahman

        ty for this info!!!!

  • fatou diaw

    Was not a fan of the first episode, but will give it another shot.

  • Maria

    Attended the premier in Venice! And one of the things i wondered is how reactions would vary from an European and American audience. Like… is Sorrentino as known there as he is over here? Did La Grande Bellezza make such a big impression, and are you familiar with his style? And with Italian cinema?
    As for the Catholic theme, Sorrentino’s pope – mysterious, manipulative, young – has been praised by conservative catholics. He’s a little bit of an anti pope Francis, who believes that mystery and absence are more powerful to wake up interest and love than opening the Church to everyone and making it as time’s person of the year. As a catholic myself,I found the series poses interesting questions for today’s faithful, as sorrentino drawing this parallel between an orphan pope and an orphan Church…
    And the red shoes and hats! I see there a little ode to pope Benedict xvi, who rescued many of the forgotten vestments from past popes. Also, he had an assitant who was a very good looking priest, and sometimes even gossip magazines would talk about him.

  • I so needed to read this because I didn’t quite know how I felt about the series. But Jude Law is seriously killing it. I’m excited to see where it goes as far as diving into the themes of loneliness and faith.

  • libero7

    Wait and see episode 9: pure poetry

  • Jeanne P

    I was so hoping you’d recap the episodes, but am thrilled that you’ve at least got it on the radar. The dialogue is amazing and the so are the visuals. Vestments = Vetements. I even downloaded the song that was gifted by the New Zealand prime minister- Senza Un Perche by Nada, Massimo Zamboni- because I couldn’t get it out of my head. Like Westworld, if you have questions about the plot or symbolism, check out the discussions on Reddit- just beware of spoilers because the series was released several months ago in Europe.

    My favorite scene so far:

  • Nina

    Aw man, based on the comments, sounds like it’s not for someone who really doesn’t like organized religion. Too bad. Pass.

    • Haley Nahman

      I might be misreading your comment but…I think you shouldn’t pass!

  • Miss J

    I watched all ten episodes, available on Netflix in select European countries. It’s like a Felini-esque House of Cards in the Vatican, and it’s amazing! Other than being hilarious, the photography is just beautiful, where sunlight and shadow almost dance in every interior shot. Sorrentino is obsessed with three things, all of which are very subtly threaded throughout the show: his love for Federico Felini, Maradona, and Naples. Fun fact: The Young Pope was the most watched series premier in the history of Italian television. And when you’re done with that, you should watch The Crown; it not nearly as entertaining, missing the je ne sais quoi, but if for nothing else, at least for the costumes.

  • Holly Laine Mascaro

    Props for the Jane Austen reference

  • Holly Laine Mascaro

    My friend, who I keep encouraging to apply to write for you guys because she has the same voice, said that his hat “is the physical equivalent of that song middle school girls like to sing ‘Stop, don’t touch me there, this is my private square.'” Crying laughing.

  • Roza

    “His gowns/robes/not sure what you call them are whiter/fresher than the walls of your favorite minimalist blogger’s condo in 2013.”

    Hilarious and brilliant.

  • Kari

    You convinced me. I mean I was on the fence- but now I’m so excited!!