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The Young Pope


The Young Pope tells the controversial story of the beginning of Pius XIII's pontificate. Born Lenny Belardo, he is a complex and conflicted character, so conservative in his choices as to border on obscurantism, yet full of compassion towards the weak and poor. The first American pope, Pius XIII is a man of great power who is stubbornly resistant to the Vatican courtiers, unconcerned with the implications to his authority.

Status: Running
TV Channel: Sky Atlantic
  • Tom Long

    Lush, often surreal, filled with contradictory characters and backstabbing intrigue, The Young Pope is one of the more remarkable television shows in memory.

    The Detroit News Full Review
  • Ben Travers

    The Young Pope is wickedly funny and deeply insightful.

    Indiewire Full Review
  • Hank Stuever

    Despite the pace, the show is a chilling, challenging and visually stunning piece of work.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Daniel D'Addario

    The Young Pope is as compellingly watchable as anything else you’ll find on TV. Sorrentino intuitively understands that which makes Catholicism--with its crosscurrents of guilt and exuberant hope as well as the opulent pageantry of the Vatican--fascinating grist for storytelling. And he’s unafraid to go what seems at first too far in service of a story that finds the universal in one warped leader’s specificities.

    Time Full Review
  • Maureen Ryan

    The spontaneity rumbling through The Young Pope illuminates the unruly possibilities of human and spiritual connection, and its sly, deadpan wit is often a delight.

    Variety Full Review
  • Verne Gay

    The Young Pope is a fascinating mess with a puckish sense of humor and an outsized goal--to know the mind of God.

    Newsday Full Review
  • Ed Bark

    Intellectually challenging while arguably also going off the rails more than a few times, The Young Pope has its work cut out in luring a sizable audience.

    Uncle Barky Full Review
  • Robert Lloyd

    The series' strength is that it is difficult to pin down; it zigs when you expect it to zag.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Kevin Fallon

    It’s the kind of blank canvas needed to host Sorrentino’s compelling strangeness, making The Young Pope alternatingly addicting and infuriating, like the most interesting ambitious dramas competing to make noise in the age of #PeakTV.

    The Daily Beast Full Review
  • Rob Owen

    The show is too smart to be so easily dismissed, but whether its depiction of Vatican politics--and especially its title character’s abrasive personality--warrant devotion will be in the eye of the beholder. Lenny’s not a likable character, but The Young Pope offers addictive stories of unpredictable political maneuvering.

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Full Review
  • Matt Roush

    Thanks to Law's bravura performance, bristling with cagey charisma and cruelty playful and arrogant inscrutability, this young pope has a way of keeping everyone off guard. [16-29 Jan 2017, p.16]

    TV Guide Magazine Full Review
  • Sophie Gilbert

    The Young Pope is frequently tedious in a very dazzling way. But it’s also an extraordinary portrait of the kind of loneliness and neediness that sparks in some men an almost psychopathic quest to dominate others, and of the myopic enablers who convince themselves that their work is God’s plan.

    The Atlantic Full Review
  • Matthew Gilbert

    [Paulo Sorrentino] invents a coolly seductive physical world to match the oddness of his story. Even as The Young Pope slowly moves among its different tones--serious religious drama, soap opera, satire, dystopian nightmare--it remains consistent in one important quality: stark originality.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Erik Adams

    The Young Pope keeps its audience at a distance, but it also keeps that audience guessing. And not just about the next curveball it’s going to throw or abrupt left turn Lenny’s going to take, but about the fundamental mysteries of faith.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Jeff Jensen

    The show is best when Sorrentino and Law produce arresting moments that play like ironic religious art. [13 Jan 2017, p.52]

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Matt Zoller Seitz

    This is, in many ways, one of the weirdest, most counterintuitive programs ever to get a green light from HBO, and that alone merits the benefit of the doubt for now.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Will Ashton

    The Young Pope is risky, reckless, flawed and fierce.

    We Got This Covered Full Review
  • Deborah Young

    Sorrentino's taste for the grotesque at times gets out of hand, but generally serves him well in this comic approach to the hidebound traditions of the miniscule Papal state.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Terry Terrones

    The Young Pope really starts to click when Lenny's mentor, Cardinal Michael Spencer (James Cromwell), enters in episode two. When someone finally stands up to the power mad pontiff, the series excels. It still has it idiosyncrasies but much like the character himself, it takes some time to see the potential of The Young Pope.

    Colorado Springs Gazette Full Review
  • Glenn Garvin

    Merely dazed: stylistically, narratively, theologically. Part soap opera, part jeremiad, and part dark comedy, its various incarnations don't always mesh very well. It strives for epic magnificence and falls well short of coherence...And yet it's kind of entertaining. Full Review
  • Ellen Gray

    Yes, it's all decidedly odd.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Ken Tucker

    It really depends on how drawn in you are by the Vatican intrigue crafted by show creator Paolo Sorrentino, and how beguiled you are by Jude Law’s performance.

    Yahoo TV Full Review
  • Mark A. Perigard

    All The Young Pope proves is that absolute power is absolutely boring.

    Boston Herald Full Review
  • Dave Nemetz

    The Young Pope feels more like an eccentric foreign film than a TV series. Except it is a TV series--and little quirks that might seem charming in a 90-minute movie can begin to grate across several episodes.

    TVLine Full Review
  • David Wiegand

    HBO made five of the series’ 10 episodes available to critics, and perhaps The Young Pope makes sense as a whole. Half the loaf, however, is half-baked. In spite of that, and because of wonderful performances by James Cromwell, as an older cardinal who was Belardo’s mentor and resents that he wasn’t chosen pope himself, Cécile de France as the Vatican’s marketing director, and Orlando, The Young Pope has something that makes you keep with it.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Mark Dawidziak

    The problem with The Young Pope is that it never artfully draws you in deep enough to care. Created and directed by Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino ("The Great Beauty"), it is drearily paced, choppy and often self-consciously bizarre. It's beautiful to gaze upon, filled with sumptuous shots that look like majestic oil paintings. And the supporting cast is impressive.

    Cleveland Plain Dealer Full Review
  • Kristi Turnquist

    At times, Sorrentino's approach is bracingly different. But many, many more times, The Young Pope leaves us alternating between admiring Sorrentino's craft and wondering why this is so lugubriously paced and cryptically written.

    The Oregonian Full Review
  • James Poniewozik

    When it’s good--well, it’s still often pretty bad, but it’s also gorgeous and appealingly weird.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Josh Bell

    It’s often too straight-faced to be satirical, and the hodge-podge of accents sometimes undercuts the dramatic intensity.

    Las Vegas Weekly Full Review
  • Willa Paskin

    It has languid pacing and an earnest streak about religious devotion. This streak, with its provocative but often specious and unchallenged ideas about celebrity and religiosity, fame and faith, are the only unintentionally risible aspects of the series.

    Slate Full Review
  • Robert Bianco

    Like the Vatican itself, Pope is beautiful, lush and carefully, formally composed. It’s also oddly airless and cold, more a series of striking pictures than a living and breathing slice of life, one that leaves you with no way in and little reason to care. Style doesn't just trump substance here; it's the only substance The Young Pope has. And that seems wrong.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Brian Lowry

    The Young Pope is new, but hardly improved. And to use a very American expression, the series too often feels as if it's all hat, and no cattle.

    CNN Full Review
  • Chris Cabin

    The Young Pope is TV’s equivalent of a dorm-room poster of Bob Marley blowing smoke or the Lenny Bruce mugshot: a depleted symbol of a radical reaction to society that finally most clearly represents the status quo.

    Collider Full Review
Episode Guide For Show: The Young Pope