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HBO’s The Young Pope

The Young Pope, 2017–, still from a TV show on HBO. Season 1, episode 2. Center: Pope Pius XIII (Jude Law).

NEAR THE BEGINNING of The Young Pope, Pius XIII—the freshly elected pontiff played by Jude Law in this new HBO series directed by Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino—is asked to meet with the Holy See’s chief marketing strategist, who expresses her deep alarm that the church has not yet begun production on its greatest piece of merchandise: the pope himself, whose likeness would generate billions in income through its appearance on everything from plates and ashtrays to key chains. Pius, however, refuses to allow his image to be exploited, suggesting that it cannot harbor such significance for the church—but his contrarian stance doesn’t arise from any of the pieties we might expect. Speaking with the strategist and the Vatican secretary of state, he asks, rhetorically, “Who is the most important author of the last twenty years?” (Answer: Salinger.) Electronic-music

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