The Atlantic

The Divine Comedy Within The Young Pope

The show is funny because it's about the power of humor—and the absurdities of faith.
Source: Gianni Fiorito/HBO

One of the funniest moments of recent TV memory comes in the second episode The Young Pope during a tense meeting between Jude Law’s Lenny Belardo—Pope Pious XIII—and a cardinal who opposed his ascension to the papacy. Belardo asks the cardinal whether he is a homosexual; the cardinal, after a long and pained paused, answers yes. Belardo, silent, reaches to the button beneath his desk that sends a signal to his staff that he needs an excuse to end a meeting.

Into the room comes the papal secretary, Sister Surree. Chipperly: “Time for your snack, Holy Father!”

Belardo lets out a shocked snort of laughter and tries to stifle it. His voice exasperated, unbelieving: “My snack?”

“Yes, Holy Father, your snack.”

“Right,” he says, nodding. “That’s what she calls it

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