HBO’s newest series, The Young Pope, premiered at 9:00 p.m. ET. The show centers around the fictional first American (and young) Pope Pius XIII. Jude Law stars in the main role, and reviews show he’s done splendidly. Critics call the show “surreal” and even “weird,” but say the unpredictability makes it more intriguing and artistic. There is also a timely aspect to the show: the power-play in the Vatican resembles the political situation nowadays.

The show first draws with the shocking qualities of the new pope — he is non-traditional and rebellious. One of the first scenes shows him ordering a cherry Coke for breakfast, and berating a nun much older than him. And, unlike the humble real-life Pope Francis, this pope likes to flaunt the majesty of the church in his vestments and epic hats. Despite all of this, Pius XIII is an ultra-conservative religiously, and a potential disaster in the making. This aspect of his personality is what gives the show a dark edge.

The Young Pope Review Roundup

The Young Pope is a refreshing reminder that playfulness and profundity need not be mutually exclusive; this spectacular-looking drama has an affinity for surreal yet effective juxtapositions, and the directors’ approach to composition is both poetic and painterly.” — Maureen Ryan, Variety

“It’s a lacerating performance – his young pope is brutally calculating, occasionally almost charming and never less than terrifying. Seeing him eviscerate, in casual, leisurely fashion, anyone who fails to serve his needs – from the ageing nun who has waited on three pontiffs and presumes to kiss his forehead to the Prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy – is to watch the devil at work.” — Lucy ManganThe Guardian

“There’s a conventional drama in here somewhere about power, faith and corruption, but The Young Pope always seems to zig when you expect it to zag. Sorrentino’s scripts are spiked with surreal dream sequences, random flashes of nudity and a strangely juvenile sense of humor. (Sister Mary sleeps in a T-shirt that says, “I’m a Virgin, But This Is an Old Shirt.”).” — Dave Nemetz, TV Line 

“Law is terrific as Pius—his voice crackling with anger—but he’s better still as Lenny, the man who, in private, marvels at the fact that he has risen to one of the world’s highest offices. Pius believes far more strongly in his own calling to greatness than he does in the vitriol he spits about redoubled faith. The rhetoric, devoured by his fans and tolerated by those still hoping to regain control, allows him to further cement his own power.” — Daniel D’Addario, Time 

You can watch the trailer for The Young Pope here:

 

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