Should You Watch The Young Pope or Not?

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, renowned catholic writer, once said that “The test of a good religion is whether you can joke about it.” Judging by the first few episodes, The Young Pope was not designed as a funny test, except for the viewer´s patience.

Lenny Belardo, played by Jude Law, has become the youngest pope in the history of the Catholic Church, bringing an ultraconservative perspective to the Vatican, rather than a new order. The central idea of the show is the conflict between the new pope, Pius XIII, and everyone else who doesn´t understand or like him, in a Church were conspiracy is the order of the day.

For the cardinals, Pius XIII is, superficially, novel. However, his belief turned out to be conservative, almost medieval, shrouded by his Cherry Coke addiction and his pop culture references.

On the other hand, for the new Pope, the church has become way too tolerant. Its ecumenical nature has made the organization weak, forgetting that is the people, the faithful, who should come to them, not the other way around. He is not a bridge, but a drawbridge, pulling itself up against anything contrary to its beliefs.

This is depicted in his first public address as a Pope, where the crowd is shocked to hear, instead of the usual warm greeting, a terrifying, tyrannical speech in St. Peter´s Square. “I don´t know if you deserve me.” He raves at the people, stablishing a wall between his church and those who, in his opinion, call themselves Catholics, but “have forgotten God”.

A terrifying villain, with an endless capacity to surprise it wasn´t long before the show was taken as a parallelism to what many think Donald Trump will do with his “supreme powers”. Pope Pius XIII is secretive, and believes that no common rules apply to him. He is opposed to public appearances, homophobic and a nepotist. In a scene, he even confess to a priest that he doesn´t believe in God.

Ironically, Sister Mary, a loyal and caring nun played Diane Keaton, thinks of Pius XIII as a saint, blessed by God in a mission to restore the church. The other do not think as highly as her, however, finding in the Pope a dangerous force vowed to destroy the stablished order of the Church. Pius is as unpredictable as can be.

Is he a fanatic or a nonbeliever? Saint or Antichrist? He appears to be all these things, being mysterious and isolated at times, and terribly honest at others.

While it may appear at a glance that The Young Pope depicts a funny look to the unexpected and compelling tension between a young, tyrannical Pope Pius and the Catholic Church, what we really get is nothing but a masterfully constructed exercise in cynicism.

However, and this is the main problem, unlike other distasteful depictions of organized religions, The Young Pope is a bleak, depressing glimpse at Hollywood´s expected misunderstanding of faith, disguised as an attempt to give out a modern look on religions with underdeveloped characters other than the Pope.

Leave a Reply