Because disabled people are not one-dimensional characters who never sin
December 15, 2017 12:44 PM   Subscribe

So what's the deal with Girolamo in The Young Pope? Why isn't the actor credited? Is he a genuine disabled person or a nondisabled guy? Why don't we ever see his parents? Why do they need Voiello's babysitting services at night, and why at his apartment and not theirs? Why isn't the kid in bed--because Cardinals don't actually do physical care, am I right? Who was the other kid that Voiello yelled at and why was he there?

Note to writers of the next season: if you really want some drama, give Girolamo a communication device and set him to tapping out messages one symbol at a time. Voiello will require new underpants.
posted by Soliloquy to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Young Pope is a show that purposefully leaves like 75% of the context for literally everything unspoken and unaddressed. There could be any number of origin stories for Voiello and Girolamo's friendship (or whatever you want to call it) but I think the Occam's Razor explanation is that Voiello is a very powerful and well-known man with multiple biographies out and if the Pope's right hand man wants to babysit your kid because of Holy Reasons I guess you leave your kid with the Cardinal, take the night off and enjoy it. Maybe the parents are personal friends of Voiello's, maybe they're employees of the Vatican (like Esther and her husband), etc.

The show also treats images as equally important to the development of the show as any sort of logical plot progression, and Sister Mary spying on Voiello (very Voiello-like!) and witnessing him apparently selflessly use his free time to care for a disabled child was a very important moment on the show just in general but also for the relationship between Sister Mary and Voiello, which is one of the primary relationships on the show.
posted by griphus at 1:04 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

i was under the impression that girolamo was voiello's own illegitimate child for most of the series until the moment when sister mary confronted him about it.

everything about that show confuses me in mostly delightful ways.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:08 PM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't take Voiello's attitude towards Girolamo as being defining of the character since we see Voiello being a bit of a dick to other children and how the show makes it a central point of emphasis that individual perception, even that of the viewer, isn't reliable. One could almost say that's the main theme of the show in how it looks at "God" as a floating signifier, shaped by wants rather than anything concrete.

The idea of what people want from or see in God gives the show its shape as Lenny moots radical liberalism then pushes reactionary conservatism from one moment to the next while the rest of the characters try to assess who Lenny is in much the same way; saint or dictator? Voiello's uses Girolamo for his own need of "confession".

There is a practical element to this in Girolamo not being able to reveal what is told to him, and it not even being clear how much he understands of it all anyway, at the same time there is the belief that innocence is akin to holiness, so Voiello may indeed see something pure in Girolamo for being at a remove from the sorts of business that Voiello has to deal with as Cardinal. The concept that even the hierarchy of the church is dirty leaves the purity of ideals to be found somewhere else for those who are aware. Voiello can't look to the church to affirm or to build his belief because he knows its flaws, so he has to look where he thinks those flaws are absent.

Voiello though isn't any freer from perceptual bias than any of the other characters. His obsession with soccer and Diego Maradona hints at that, with not only the secular obtaining the same level of investment as the sacred, but in how God/religion and faith get tied to things like sports with Maradona being noted for his 1986 World Cup "Hand of God" goal. That confusing mix of sacred and profane seems to fit not only Voiello but the entirety of the show itself. Girolamo exists apart from how Voiello sees him, but that existence is inaccessible to Voiello and the viewer and left for contemplation as so many other elements of the show are, not the least of which is God itself.

Don't know why the actor isn't credited though.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:48 PM on December 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

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