Created and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, 'The Young Pope' tells the story of Lenny Belardo, aka Pius XIII (Jude Law), the first American Pope in history. Young and charming, his election seems to be the result of a simple yet effective media strategy on the part of the College of Cardinals. But appearances can be deceptive. Above all, in the place and among the people who have chosen the great mystery of God as the compass guiding their existence. That place is the Vatican and those people are the leaders of the Church. And Pius XIII proves to be the most mysterious and contradictory of them all. Shrewd and naive, ironical and pedantic, primeval and cutting-edge, doubting and resolute, melancholy and ruthless, Pius XIII tries to cross the endless river of human solitude to find a God he can give to mankind. And to himself.
I really wanted to like this series. I was hoping for an offbeat drama with sly humour, interesting characters and maybe even some insight into the conflict of the spiritual life struggling in a massive bureaucracy. Wrong on all counts. What little humour there was is puerile, the characters are all cardboard cutouts and, if there are any insights to be had, they somehow slipped by my awareness. How a young man who is a completely amoral narcissist came to be elected pope is never given any explanation, and the entire Vatican hierarchy is so hapless that one can not find any attempt at either a meaningful or genuinely satiric commentary. I hung on for the entire first episode hoping it would improve and start to develop into an engaging story. It didn't.