This weekend we finally experienced the mysterious series (and everyone’s favorite meme for the past week) behind every single billboard in Los Angeles county. Paolo Sorrentino’s The Young Pope premiered on HBO with two episodes of an eight-part series and this viewer was not disappointed.
Feelings have been somewhat mixed—in large part, I’m guessing, because few of us knew what to expect. What certainly became clear to everyone who watched is that behind the deliberately kitschy music and lavish production is a show focused on the deeper and darker underbelly of the Vatican.
While that’s true and interesting, please allow me to remain on the surface here for a minute—Bravo level, if you will. The Young Pope is, if nothing else, completely absurd. You can argue amongst yourselves whether that’s deliberate or not (I believe it is), but it’s a fact either way. And truly, we cannot discuss absurdity without wading into the many ridiculous themes of the Real Housewives franchise.
The Young Pope, I would argue, is not only a Real Housewife, but perhaps the greatest Real Housewife who ever (sort of) existed. Let me explain and yes, obviously, there will be spoilers.
When we meet Lenny, AKA Pope Pius XIII, he has just become one of the most powerful humans on the planet. Yo, people literally run around kissing his ring! Doesn’t get much more powerful than that! Lenny is the queen of the Catholic clique and there’s really no arguing either literally or metaphorically.
The first episode is essentially just Lenny strutting around the Vatican, smoking cigarettes and pulling power moves over everyone in his path. Any future or aspiring Housewife would do well to take notes.
The initial concept of the Real Housewives franchise was, of course, following rich women who stay at home and care for their families and fight with their friends over $20 salads. Somewhere along the way, Bravo seemed to stop caring about the accuracy of the title because dammit, divorcees are so much more fun.
We saw this to the greatest degree on the most recent and possibly the great season of The Real Housewives of New York where just one of the seven cast members was an actual housewife and even then, she ain’t anymore.
Diane Keaton plays the nun who raised Lenny after his parents abandoned him at an orphanage. He brings her to the Vatican where she will serve as his closest confidant. Obviously this would be more in line with the Real Housewives brand if Diane Keaton was gay because we know how the Real Housewives love to treat gay men like accessories and gay women like fun experiments after five glasses of rosé.
However, considering how mean Lenny was to that gay priest, I’m guessing she’s his straight nun/complicated maternal figure sidekick.
I mean, this is just standard stuff.
The Pope ends his first disaster of a homily to the masses by snapping “you don’t deserve me!” and boy did I laugh. One, the idea of the Pope flying blind in his first public address with only a drawing from some random child to guide him is mesmerizing in its insanity. And two, can you even imagine being that self-important? I LOVE IT. IT’S NUTS!
Of course, he was raised by a woman who truly believes him to be a literal saint, so it’s hard to even blame him for being the way he is. In that way, Lenny is basically the adult version of most of the Real Housewives children.
Rude but true.
Other than his precious Cherry Coke Zero and cups of coffee, this is pretty much all we’ve seen Lenny eat and he himself says he doesn’t have much of an appetite.
What the hell is that even? Chunks of watermelon for dinner? Some raw tuna that frankly does not look sushi grade? Remember that scene where Yolanda Hadid would only let her daughter Gigi eat a literal inch of cake because she had a swimsuit photoshoot coming up? Yeah... Yeah.
The Young Pope is extremely sarcastic in a very scary way. Like, his jokes are kind of funny, but mostly just mean and unsettling. In general, the Young Pope is very scary. He’s also constantly pulling shit on people that is extremely rude. As I said earlier, most of the time he’s trying to establish his power, but he’s also just fucking with people.
The worst offense is probably the way he’s always pushing that damn button under his desk instead of wrapping up a meeting like a normal person. In the words of a hall of famer: “So nasty and so rude.”
Lenny likes to stunt, ya heard?
Though his outfits get a bit monotonous because he’s the Pope and all, you can’t say that he doesn’t serve you a LEWK whenever he has the chance.
This hat, goddammit!
Shoe game is fire! I SEE YOU IN THOSE RED LOAFERS, POPE.
And of course, as pointed out by the eagle-eyed Jane-Clare Quigley, the Young Pope loves a statement necklace. And is there anything more true to the soul of a Real Housewife than a deep and unconditional love for a statement necklace?
No there is not.
Slay, Young Pope. Slay.
This is perhaps the Young Pope’s most Real Housewife-like trait. Over at Bravo, they’d call what Lenny is doing “stirring the pot,” if “stirring” was forcing priests to break their seal of confession so he can use the information as leverage against his enemies and the “the pot” was the highest leadership of a religion followed by 1.2 billion of the world’s humans.
I don’t know exactly what Lenny’s endgame is here, but I do know he’s already achieved the dream every Real Housewife has held at some point: The Young Pope is getting his second season.