The Young Pope: Miniseries (2017)

The Young Pope

Critics Consensus

The Young Pope's original premise and stylish blend of over-the-top melodrama with profane comedy helps overcome an occasionally muddled plot.



Critic Ratings: 83


Audience Score

User Ratings: 841
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Air date: Jan 15, 2017
Air date: Jan 16, 2017
Air date: Jan 22, 2017
Air date: Jan 23, 2017
Air date: Jan 29, 2017
Air date: Jan 30, 2017
Air date: Feb 5, 2017
Air date: Feb 6, 2017
Air date: Feb 12, 2017
Air date: Feb 13, 2017

The Young Pope: Miniseries Videos

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Tv Season Info

The first season of this limited drama series follows the early years of young, American-born Pius XIII's (Jude Law) pontificate. Pius XIII, who was born Lenny Belardo, quickly demonstrates that he will not be a mere figurehead for the Vatican, as the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Voiello (Silvio Orlando), was hoping for. Instead, Pius XIII is arrogant, self-serving, and power hungry. He publicly criticizes and questions his people's devotion to God, but the people around him begin to wonder if he even believes in God himself. Diane Keaton stars as Sister Mary, an American nun who took in Lenny Belardo when he was a 7-year-old orphan and now acts as his key advisor.


Jude Law
as Lenny Belardo/Pope Pius XIII
Diane Keaton
as Sister Mary
James Cromwell
as Cardinal Michael Spencer
Silvio Orlando
as Cardinal Voiello
Scott Shepherd
as Cardinal Dussolier
Javier Cámara
as Cardinal Gutierrez
Toni Bertorelli
as Cardinal Caltanissetta
Toni Bertorelli
as Cardinal Caltanissetta
Guy Boyd
as Archbishop Kurtwell
Marcello Romolo
as Father Tomasso
Milvia Marigliano
as Sister Antonia
Carolina Carlsson
as Prime Minister of Greenland
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Young Pope: Miniseries

Critic Reviews for The Young Pope Miniseries

All Critics (83) | Top Critics (36)

The good of the program often outweighs the bad, especially in Jude Law's magnetic lead performance, but it's a show that just misses television transcendence.

Jan 12, 2017 | Full Review…

What goes on here affects billions of people around the globe, and while the series may feel like a religious fever dream filled with bizarre imagery, slowly we all awaken to the nightmare of truth at its core. The laughs just help us get there.

Jan 11, 2017 | Rating: A | Full Review…
Top Critic

Law, who has often prospered playing cocksure princelings, convinces as a frocked martinet in the thrall of an idolatrous self-belief. The problem is that Pope Pius is less gripping than, say, House of Cards's Frank Underwood.

Oct 28, 2016 | Full Review…

Sorrentino has set the stage for both a spiky war of wills and a twisting character study -- a sacred mystery shot through with stabs of the profane.

Oct 28, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

The Young Pope is Italian director Paolo Sorrentino's visually stunning but simply preposterous and only semi-interesting drama about the first American pope (Jude Law).

Jan 17, 2017 | Rating: C | Full Review…

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

Jan 13, 2017 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
Top Critic

The dreamlike pomp and circumstance amount to one head-scratching hour of television. However, is "The Young Pope" any good?

Nov 3, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

It's got more chutzpah than almost anything else on the air. And even if this level of camp combined with self-seriousness isn't your jam, it's hard to deny the level of care that goes into each shot

Oct 16, 2018 | Full Review…

Paolo Sorrentino directs the film with vivid colours and sensuality, to underline this young and handsome Pope's appetites and grandeur and pits time bound traditions again his modernism.

Aug 24, 2018 | Full Review…

The Young Pope leaves you glued to the screen. [Full Review in Spanish]

Jul 10, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Young Pope: Miniseries

  • Jul 26, 2019
    Catholics will initially hate this series as it spears to be a slap in the face to the church, but by episode 5, it actually turns around and starts to focus on how to strengthen the church. I would not be surprised if their are more Catholics as a result of this. Personally, I could not stop watching this - beautifully filmed, interesting as all hell, and I'm a Hindu! 😂🕉
  • May 07, 2019
    So amazingly shot, surreal and hilarious. It makes me want to book a trip to Rome and visit the Vatican again. Jude Law is a devilish Pope and the casting choice is brilliant. Can't wait for the next season.
  • Feb 16, 2019
    Unconventional, Bold, and Revolutionary! This show is not perfect, but whether you like the self-obsessed and rude Jude Law's character, Lenny, or not and whether you'll be offended by such contemporary view of the church and religion or not, YOU WILL ENJOY IT.
  • Sep 29, 2018
    Out of the seemingly controversial, for the sake of attention, skin crawls a beautiful and heartwarming tale.
  • May 29, 2018
  • Apr 15, 2018
    My husband (not Catholic) and myself (Catholic) loved it. Fabulous sets,,, costumes,, but it’s the plot that kept us tuning in. Crazy,, each week we would say “is he the devil? Is he the next coming of Christ, a Saint.!?” Recommended to many of our friends. Anxiously awaiting season 2!
  • Apr 14, 2018
    The young pope promised more than it could give. the trailer promised a character of a power and ruthlessness, and a determination for revolution. However what we got was not even as controversial as his dream in the opening sequence of the first episode. PIUS XIII (jude law) was interesting, but not really CONSISTENT, as the plot itself. The premises were there, the idea was interesting but the plot execution was questionable. I somehow also thought that it was oddly americanized while being made by an italian person. I thought that it was unrealistic that that many people in the church still doubt of the existence of God, I got the feeling that the script writer was reflecting their own atheism or doubt there (who knows though) . but it was an interesting take on the role of religion in terms of not only the belief of the supernatural (which was a point contradicted by the "miracles" shown later.. only adding to the inconsistency) , Aesthetically it was very nice, the costumes were very well made as thought they are real. The actors were good and nothing was wrong with the filming. The boldness in the choice of the soundtracks (like I'm sexy and I know it in that one episode) and the opening song, very far the the Church's spiritual choirs we're used to ACCOMPANYING that kind of scenery was remarkable and one of the best things in the show.
  • Feb 02, 2018
    A little bit Boring but Joud Law is Amazing and Sorrentino ha ve done an intresting story
  • Dec 17, 2017
    This is a one-of-a-kind and most engaging papal mystery. Catholics may have a somewhat greater affinity for this look into the Vatican, but if you enjoy second-guessing the plot will enjoy this.
  • Dec 12, 2017
    HBO has built a reputation for pushing the envelope, taking entertainment to a level previously unimagined by the audience. From a Mafia Don in need of a psychiatrist to a hyper-realistic look at a town devoted to the fulfilling the carnal and alcoholic desires of a gold prospector, this network has earned the myriad of awards and adulations accumulated over the years. Traditionally, the two subjects considered off-topic to prevent a melee it is best to avoid politics and religion. With the 2016 Presidential election undeniably the most unorthodox in history most networks understandably choose to provide programming related to alternate views of the highest echelons of government. HBO continued its propensity blazing their path by creating a series about the highest office in one of the world’s dominant religions, The Pope. The result of this strategy was ‘The Young Pope.' Since the usual vision of The Pope is an elderly man, pious, and supremely devoted to the best interest of his followers. This series takes each point in turn and completely reverses expectations. Admittedly not the best effort by the pioneer in premium tier cable, it does ascend to a level of quality that surpasses a significant portion of their competition. While substantially not as explicit in the use of graphic violence or explicit sexuality but there are enough to warrant the TV-MA rating. The series is net for the faint of heart, specifically those fervent in their religious beliefs. Some detractors have cited the slow pacing as a negative, not accustomed to stories that, by their nature, demand a carefully crafted deployment of exposition and artistic advantage of slowly immersing the viewer into the world created by the writers, directors, and cast. The format selected to present this tale of the covert machinations of the Vatican was the limited series. Unlike the established guideline of the miniseries, the story extends beyond the two or three nights to a full season of ten weekly episodes. This affords a definite freedom to the writers since no consideration for a second season is necessary, the story concludes by the end of its final episode. At least that was the plan. The success of the endeavor did result in the announcement of a second season. Immediately upon the death of the Pope, the College of Cardinals is convened in Rome. In this instance, a historical first was seen, electing an American, Archbishop of New York Cardinal Lenny Belardo (Jude Law). His election was not without mystery as some held suspicions as to how one so young, still, in his thirties could attain the Thone of Peter. Most felt that his mentor and predecessor as New York’s Archbishop, Cardinal Michael Spencer (James Cromwell). His first official act heightened Those suspicions as Pope, the selection of his Papal name. To the shock of the Cardinals, the newly elected Pope chose, Pope Pius XIII. The controversy stemmed from the last use of the name, Pope Pius XII, who served as Pope during World War II. It was subsequently demonstrated that this Pope knew about the Holocaust and negotiated with the Nazi high command. An uproar ensued when the Pope announces that he will not make public appearances, extended that decree to the unimaginable pronouncement that it is forbidden to make any public use of his image. This is especially difficult for Sofia (Cécile de France), in charge of marketing or the Holy See. She advises the Pope against that proclamation since the marketing of items bearing the Papal Likeness accounts for a substantial portion of the income for the Holy See. The first meeting between the Pope and this attractive woman provides one of the initial insights into the psychological makeup of the Pope. The Pope was a frequent smoker who reversed the orders of a processor forbidding smoking in the Pope’s office. He explains this to Sophia as he casually lights a cigarette she asked if she can smoke. He responds "no" in a strongly emphasized fashion. This Pope is not open to debate, yielding or discussion. He is to be obeyed with unquestioned loyalty. To the chagrin of the Cardinals, their new Pontiff completely rejects the liberal changes made to the Church. Ecumenicalism, the willingness to embrace other variations of Christendom. The Catholic Church is to stand as the sole means to approach God. He calls for unswerving loyalty to the Church, that is to the unquestioned authority of the Pope. The changes he plans included the complete rejection of homosexuality, a plot point that is expanded through the personal effects on a supplicant for the priesthood, Ángelo Sanchez (Marcos Franz). Nearly every decision becomes growing concern of the Cardinals who swiftly conclude that this new Pope poses a clear and realistic danger to the Church. At the center of the concerned scarlet-clad clerics is Cardinal Angelo Voiello (Silvio Orlando), holding the exalted positions of Camerlengo and Cardinal Secretary of State. This makes him the second most powerful man in the Vatican both within the Church and on the global political stage. The Cardinals plot with Cardinal Voiello to find some way to force the Pope to step down. One abortive attempt involved placing a beautiful young woman, Esther (Ludivine Sagnier), the wife of Peter (Biagio Forestieri), a member of the elite Pontifical Swiss Guard. The Cardinals conspire to induce a relationship between the Pope and young woman. At one point the ruse goes far as to secretly photographic the Pontiff as she tricks him into touching her breast. The photographic equipment would insight envy in a paparazzi. Ultimately doubts manifested by Cardinal Voiello deter such blatantly odious machinations. When the Pope makes his first official public address, it is at night, rather than the bright daylight. The Pope is shrouded in robes standing back in the shadows of the terrace. The repercussions are immediate and felt global. The reason for the mystery given by the Pope was his vision of returning the Church to its mysterious and unquestioned status. The Pope continues to explain that those weak in faith will fall away leaving only the zealots. Every action made by the Pope is carefully crafted to shock the hidebound hierarchy of the Church and cement his position as its unchallenged ruler. One of the most dramatic scenes involves the Pope’s entrance to a conclave of Cardinals. The process of the Pope selecting his official garb and adornments is shown in exquisite detail. From the selection of the undergarments to the layers of robes multiple choices are provided. Finally, the Pape crown is the last item to select. He rejects each held in the Vatican having a large create brought from the Vatican treasury. It holds a crown of pure gold embellished with an astounding number of precious gems. The outer robe, a rich brocade forms a cocoon around the pontiff. He enters the chamber on a platform carried by many strong men. The Pope stands before the throne, arms held out, palms facing upward. This was one of the most impressive and shockingly dramatic visuals I have ever seen, in encapsulates the Pope’s insistence that he is the spokesman of God, ruling above the common throng. Adding to the humiliation of those opposing them he moves his foot forward, his red shoe poking out from the heavy robes. The Cardinals are expected to bend and kiss his foot in a symbol of subjugation. When it is time for Cardinal Voiello to perform the act of obeisance, the Pope pushed his face down, holding it there with his other foot. One of the main strengths of this limited series is the way the writers achieved a balance between Pope Pious XIII and Lenny Belardo. He was left as a young boy at a Catholic orphanage by his parents, raised by a nun, Sister Mary (Diane Keaton). As Pope, he made Sister Mary his official personal secretary. One of Lenny’s closest friends was another orphan, Cardinal Andrew Dissolver (Scott Shepherd), who was like his brother. Both regarded Sister Mary as a maternal figure. Many trials and tribulation are brought to bear including a sexual scandal with an Archbishop Kurt Weill (Guy Boyd), political uproar between the Pope and the Prime Minister of Italy. Also, there is a Shepard, Tonino Pettola (Franco Pinelli), who claims he can see the Virgin Mary among his flock of sheep. He has been gaining a sizable flowing. Despite the fact that the pacing is so carefully measured there is an incredible number of subplots, twists, and nuances woven into the fabric of this memorizing story.

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