After the success of “Westworld” I was intrigued to see where HBO would go next. “The Young Pope” is probably less commercial but may end up being even better. The show is about a very flamboyant new American Pope who may be bisexual and agnostic. Jude Law is outstanding in this role in the first episode. Diane Keaton is promising as the nun and his most trusted advisor who brought him up after his parents died in his youth. The viewer is left wondering why his character was chosen to be pope, as well as what role and motivation Keaton’s character had in actualizing Law’s ascent to the papacy.
This show has some very memorable moments such as imagined speeches that the Pope gives where he tells the crowds who came to see him to do whatever the hell they want. He appears to be conflicted about what message he wants to give his followers. The director has a sly way of showing that the personal interest of the ruler pope is not what is similarly in the best interest of his followers.
What makes the Young Pope so interesting is that it is very unpredictable. The viewer has no way of knowing his intentions. What is clear is that he is highly ambitious, cunning, and ruthless. He smokes cigarettes, and crosses over taboo subjects in his conversations and in his daydreams. There are hints of a dark past.
It will be fascinating to see if this show generates controversy in America. Will this show’s cynical take on the Pope amuse or repel audiences? Well, it amused me and held me in thrall. I think this kind of intelligent entertainment is what we need right now in the wake of our political landscape being so dumbed-down and partisan. “The Young Pope” is not for everyone, but it is a must for the thoughtful viewer. This show airs new episodes Sunday and Monday nights on HBO.