HBO’s “The Young Pope” is one of the most anticipated shows of the year, but after watching the first episode, I’m just not feeling it.
Making this statement feels like sacrilege with Diane Keaton and Jude Law in the cast but no amount of star power or over-the-top set design (this is The Vatican — go big or go home) can distract from the fact that the story falls flat.
Jude Law plays Lenny Belardo, a cardinal recently named Pope Pius XIII — the world’s first American Pope and at 47-years-old, he’s considered pretty “young.” But there’s a dark side to this appointee. He’s absolutely miserable to be around — bringing a nun to tears before he’s even had breakfast (Cherry Coke Zero in case you’re wondering) and making everyone around him uncomfortable for the sake of exerting his newfound power.
The show feels a little like “House of Cards” in that you have a morally bereft nutjob leading millions of people. But while Frank Underwood is also a despicable human being, he still connects with the audience and his brand of horrible is at least entertaining. Pope Pius XIII is just an emotionally repressed stick in the mud, keen on breaking rules simply for the sake of breaking them. (He smokes in The Vatican — gasp!) Because he’s so closed off as a character, it’s hard for the audience to care about him enough to root for whatever devious plans he has in store, or sadly, to even take the time to watch the next episode.
Perhaps with time, Pope Pius XIII will warm up to viewers. The question is — will they stick around long enough to get hooked? It will be interesting to see how Lenny shakes up the Catholic Church and what kind of role Sister Mary (Diane Keaton’s character) will play in aiding him. If anything, the uncertainty of where this is all going could be enough to keep us along for the ride.
What did you think of “The Young Pope”? Tell us in the comments below.