Just Hear Me Out About 'The Young Pope,' You Guys
Some people find solace in God when they are faced with circumstances that challenge their preconceived notion of the direction in which their so-called ~path~ is headed. These people are nobler than I am because my spiritual boost in this scenario arrived in the form of HBO’s limited series The Young Pope.
Pope Pius XIII, aka Lenny Belardo, aka brooding mozzarella stick Jude Law found me in a mysterious way, like most miracles do. I started a free 30-day trial of HBO On-Demand on Amazon to watch Insecure* and was compelled to milk the subscription of all that it was worth as if I had actually been paying for it in the first place. I just didn’t know what to watch next. Game of Thrones seemed too shouty, Girls is Girls, and I’m waiting until I move out of New Jersey to revisit The Sopranos, so The Young Pope appeared to be a logical transition between dramas about European monarchies after finishing The Crown not too long ago.
*High recommend, Issa Rae is a whip-smart dramatic and comedic delight
Boy, oh boy! Was I the densest chicken of the sea when it came to that hypothesis. Let’s just put it this way: The Crown is a Victorian chaise lounge while The Young Pope is a sturdy bean bag chair covered in really nice fabric.
Assuming that it's not a Friday during Lent while you're reading this, there’s a two-episode threshold that you need to pass in order to get to the meaty stuff. (If it is, add 24 hours and some fish to tide you over.) The need for exposition sets the slow pace of the preliminary episodes and, in turn, helps introduce you to Paolo Sorrentino’s style if you aren’t familiar with it already. It’s ironic and ornate in an art film way. You’ll find yourself fighting laughter when it comes to absurd sequences such as the LMFAO getting-ready montage and wonder if you look like a D-class fool if you aren't stroking your beard and drawing philosophical conclusions. To this trepidation, Sorrentino says to shave your beard and laugh because funny things are meant to be funny.
Now, I’m not going to recap the entire series for you — go to Rolling Stone for buttoned-up coverage, go to Vulture for laffs — but I will introduce some of the main players in case your stream "froze" when Jude’s hot cross buns appeared on screen during the first episode. Your promotion might depend on it. Mild spoilers ahead.
Pope Pius XIII, or Lenny Belardo as he's known on the streets, played by Mature Alfie
Note: I’m going to refer to Pope Pius XIII as "Lenny" from here on out because he is a man-child and "Lenny" or “Lenwich” are names that are proportionate to his lack of maturity.
Lenny Belardo is the newly elected Pope and the former Archbishop of New York whose ego, archaic conservative policies, abhorrence of the press, and burnt sienna skin color are comparable to that/those of Donald Trump. Despite these unintentional comparisons, I implore you to flush your subconscious of the Carrot in Chief so you can mindfully digest Lenny’s story, which is a deep sea dive into the psyche of an orphan thrown into a position of power.
Lenny and I have much more in common than he and Donald, anyway. We both don’t know who our biological parents are — he has visions of his hippy mother and father and has their scents ingrained in his memory, but whatever — and we’re not to be trusted with small children. We are both averse to tourists because they are “only passing through” and the idea of being sent to Alaska is one of cruel and unusual punishment.
Our two differences:
1.) His favorite breakfast is a Cherry Coke Zero (mine contains food)
2.) He has a “that is all” bell installed beneath his desk that excuses him from uncomfortable interactions. I'd like one of these but for auto-play videos.
Sister Mary, played by Diane Keaton and her sunglasses
Sister Mary raised Lenny and Cardinal Andrew Dussolier in an orphanage. She is appointed as Lenny’s proverbial Kellyanne Conway with better taste for #edgy #fashion as evidenced by her sleeping shirt:
In another life, she would have been in the secret service or the NBA, though she probably could’ve done both if she wanted to.
Cardinal Andrew Dussolier, played by Scott Shepherd
Andrew is the Hobbes to Andrew's Calvin, except Andrew makes me feel a little bit slimy. He and Jude Law's nighttime tracksuit peak in Episode 5, so definitely stick it out until then.
Cardinal Angelo Voiello, Camerlengo and Cardinal Secretary of State, played by Silvio Orlando
At the beginning of TYP, Voiello is a freshly risen ball of dough that is immediately punched down by Jude Law’s well-manicured fingers. He has the phone case collection of a chill teenage Italian boy and eyebrows that belong in a Burberry campaign.
Sofia, Lenny’s head of marketing, played by Cécile de France
Sofia wins Most Bae Supporting Character in a Religious(ish) Series for her ability to keep Jude Law in line without once wrinkling her pantsuit. I hope that she and Sophia Amoruso will collaborate on a business casual collection.
Cardinal Michael Spencer, played by James Cromwell
Hog farmer Arthur H. Hoggett from the 1995 film Babe is back by popular demand, but this time, dressed in Cardinal vestments as the former Archbishop of New York and Lenny’s daddy figure. Spencer is bitter because he believes that he should’ve been the Pope and takes his anger out on innocent seeded grapes accordingly.
Creepy Esther, played by Ludivine Sagnier
Esther is married to a member of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. She and her husband are unable to conceive a child together, but Saint Lenwich comes along and, well, you’ll see! Though it's never explicitly stated, Esther is definitely one for using coupon codes to get great deals on extra-large prints from Shutterfly. Thrifty!
The Vatican’s Heliport, played by this asphalt
The Vatican Heliport gets the most action out of anyone or anything in this series. Get into it.
Don Tommaso, Len-Len’s confessor, played by Marcello Romolo
Don Tommaso’s only flaw is that his hair hurts. Otherwise, he reminds me of one of my professors from Florence who pronounced “pope” like “pewp.” PEWP PEWP PEWP.
Cardinal Aguirre, played by Ramón García
I don’t remember much about Cardinal Aguirre, except that it looked like Jude Law wanted to eat him like a Ferrero Rocher during this scene from Episode 2.
This Kangaroo, played by this kangaroo
THERE’S A KANGA, MAN. SMALL KANGA, BIG CITY!
The person who plays the timpani in moments of suspense deserved a title credit, so I’m commemorating them now for their outstanding work.
Just why wasn’t anyone concerned about this dog’s well-being?
Pool balls hurt, guys!!!
Now tell me about your favorite Vatican dwellers in the comments below.
Analyze & Discuss
What color would your shoes be if you were the Pope? I'd go with Kardashian Klear.