Here is a screenshot from the opening scene.
Everything that followed in the next 50 minutes or so was equally strange.
Written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino—a renowned Italian filmmaker who won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for The Great Beauty, a visually stunning meditation on aging and artistic fulfillment—the show centers on a new pope, Pius XIII, an American named Lenny Belardo.
He is stubborn and sort of a badass. He is also young—for a pope—and Jude Law. While the old guard hoped he would be their “telegenic puppet,” Belardo has other ideas, which thus far involve smoking cigarettes in the Vatican, drinking Cherry Coke Zero, daydreaming about boobies and bribing weakling priests into revealing his adversaries’ confessions.
The first episode proved to be a mix of oddball comedy and grandiose drama. It was largely absurd. So, in lieu of a standard recap, we’ve decided to summarize the premiere by presenting you with these 13 ridiculous moments and observations.
May God have mercy on your soul.
1. “The series opens on the tushy of a baby crawling over a mountain of babies, dead, alive and sleeping. We follow the baby until we see Jude Law ‘aka Young Pope’ crawl out from under the mountain of babies.” A real director making a real show on the real HBO may or may not have said real words to that effect.
2. The fact that we see Jude Law aka Young Pope’s chiseled ass like three minutes into a show entitled The Young Pope.
3. There’s an actual “Hair and Wig Designer” listed in the opening credits, but most people’s hair (or, well, wigs) is covered in this first episode because they’re either nuns or priests. Suspicious. Very, very suspicious.
4. Jude Law aka Young Pope’s loony smile behind the title in the opening credits.
5. That moment when Jude Law aka Young Pope spreads his arms, looks up into the sky and literally wills the clouds to part.
6. A quick zoom into Jude Law aka Young Pope’s face when he says, during the dream version of his first homily, “We have forgotten to masturbate.” And the crowd is like, collectively, “I guess?”
7. The papal breakfast spread. So many donuts.
8. When Jude Law aka Young Pope aka Masturbation Revivalist tells his staff that all he has in the morning is a Cherry Coke Zero. Let’s unpack his holiness’s strange proclivity for diet soda for a moment: is there something fundamentally divine or miraculous about a drink that purports to have zero calories? Is there something latently sexual (virginal) about the “cherry” in Cherry Coke Zero? Is this whole character quirk really just product placement, paid for by Coca-Cola? If so: props to Coca-Cola for thinking outside the box.
9. What are these turtles doing on the grounds of the Vatican? Is that normal? That can’t be normal.
10. Jude Law aka Young Pope’s bonnet.
11. To an old cardinal’s utmost surprise, Jude Law aka Young Pope aka Signore Cherry Coke Zero pulls out a pack of cigarettes; the old cardinal tells him he can’t smoke in the papal whatever because Pope John Paul II said so; Jude Law proclaims, “There’s a new pope now,” and lights the thing anyway.
12. Jude Law aka Young Pope basically requests a room for all his toys, as well as a return of the papal tiara. What are you playing at, Young Pope? Wait until the Vatican Ethics Committee hears about this!
13. In the final scene, Jude Law aka Young Pope confesses to a homely priest that he doesn’t believe in God, and said homely priest nearly goes into cardiac arrest, so Jude Law aka Tiara Lover XIII tells him he’s just kidding. But here’s the thing: I DON’T THINK HE’S KIDDING.