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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Watching may make viewers more cynical about the Catholic church and the papal system, though whether that's a positive or negative message is debatable. The show's sensibilities seem cynical, with very little nobility shown from any quarter.
Positive Role Models
Very few characters appear sincere about holiness and service. Most are duplicitous and power hungry, such as Cardinal Voiello, who endlessly schemes for self-preservation, and John Paul III, who seems more concerned with meeting celebrities than helping the poor and downtrodden. One Pope, Francis II, does take steps to dismantle the Church's power structure, but he doesn't get the chance to do much.
Violence & Scariness
Violence is occasional, though can be shocking, like a scene in which we see a heart being put into a patient on a table, or one in which a character dies suddenly of a heart attack.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Breasts and buttocks are visible in fantasy sequences with women dancing. Characters discuss sexual identity, pedophilia, and same-sex attractions, as well as the Church's stance on chastity for priests. A nun gives a Pope a sponge bath and then appears to masturbate; we see her flushed face as she sighs.
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Language is infrequent but expect "damn," "hell," and "f--k" (in Italian, subtitled).
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Products & Purchases
The series takes pains to show us the wealth of the Church: elaborate rooms, fancy vestments, gold jewelry and crosses.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters smoke cigarettes and a pipe.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The New Pope is a continuation of The Young Pope, with Jude Law's Pius XIII down for the count and a new Pope (John Malkovich) on the papal throne. Like the first series, this miniseries seems designed to showcase the empty pageantry and hypocrisy in the Vatican City, and most characters are duplicitous and power hungry, though a few appear to have the needs of the faithful and the downtrodden in mind. Fantasy sequences, often set to pop music, may show female buttocks or breasts, and may incorporate religious symbols such as crosses and images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. A nun gives the Pope a sponge bath (his private parts are covered, but we see the rest of his nude body) and then appears to masturbate; we see her face as she experiences some sort of release but don't see what's causing the release. Characters smoke cigarettes and a pipe, and violence includes a gory heart transplant in which we see the heart actually being put into the recipient's body, and one in which a character dies of a heart attack. Language is infrequent but "damn," "hell," and "f--k" (in Italian, subtitled) are heard. The Church's wealth is on display, with lots of visual imagery on elaborate furniture, large expensively decorated rooms, complicated vestments. Viewers may have questions about the Church and how it operates after watching; they may feel more cynical about the papal system or religion in general.
Is It Any Good?
As thunderingly gorgeous as its predecessor, this new series mines plenty of intrigue from the church's pageantry and power and Malkovich is a suitably gravitas-wielding sub for Law. The Young Pope already acquainted most viewers with a candy-colored pop version of the papal system and a vision of the Pope as a brand just as much as a holy man. With Pius XIII out of the way and a new Pope on the throne, director Sorrentino seems to be doubling down on his points about the emptiness of both the office and its officers, a world in which powerful men scheme for even more power, are double-crossed, and then find a sneaky way to steal that power right back again, like a ponderous version of The Sopranos with a lot more headgear.
The New Pope is also as slow-moving as The Young Pope, with entire scenes consisting of church officials in vestments advancing slowly through elaborate chambers, or fantasy sequences of hot young nuns in white nightgowns writhing around a neon cross. It's hard to know what Sorrentino is trying to say about the church with such imagery, and hard to understand why we need a painfully long scene in the first episode in which we watch cardinals trying to elect a new Pope, which requires a two-thirds majority. Over and over again they submit their votes, over and over again, the tallies are announced -- listen, the audience could understand what looks like a tortured process without being tortured in the process. The New Pope sure is nice to look at, even without Jude Law's polished presence, but it should hurry up and get where it's going faster.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.