CliqueClack TV

The Borgias – Jeremy Irons is the Worst. Pope. Ever.

If you've come to 'The Borgias' looking for the same guilty pleasures you got from 'The Tudors', you are in for a good time.

- Season 1, Episode 1-2 - "The Poisoned Chalice; The Assassin"

Cesare Borgia frolics with his sister Lucrezia

Showtime’s The Borgias, touted as a crime family drama set in Renaissance Italy, features Jeremy Irons in the role of Rodrigo Borgia (Alexander VI), the most corrupt pope ever to buy his way into the big pointy hat.

Fans of The Tudors can revel in luscious costumes and sets, unending political intrigue, and, of course, gore and sensuality. (Sex scenes that end in blood-soaked bedsheets? Yep.) You’ll also notice some familiar faces in the pilot—in addition to Irons (his voice still reminds me of Scar), look for Joanne Whalley as Rodrigo’s long-time mistress Vanozza, and Derek Jacobi and Colm Feore as his rivals, Cardinals Orsini and Revore.

Forget the old fogeys for a minute — while we do spend a great deal of time in the halls of the Vatican, as the cardinals bicker, bribe, and blackmail each other, this wouldn’t be a Showtime series without some pretty young faces. Rodrigo’s son Cesare, played by Francois Arnaud, may be the most intriguing character in a cast of intriguing characters. Cesare is forced by his father to join the Church, even though he would rather be a soldier; his brother Juan the Dumbass, a far inferior swordsman, is handed Cesare’s dream job of commanding the papal armies. (Don’t be surprised if Juan meets an untimely end.) Despite the collar, Cesare readily does his father’s dirty work, whether that involves buying votes, poisoning outspoken cardinals, or hiring assassins to murder chambermaids who put their eyes to the wrong keyhole.

Speaking of peeping through keyholes, the premiere opens with Cesare’s little sister Lucrezia spying on her big brother having sex with some woman. What makes this doubly eww is that, afterwards, the brother and sister giggle about it and roll around in the grass together (see picture above). If you smell incest, that’s probably because the historical Lucrezia was thought to have been pregnant with her brother’s child at one point. Don’t ask me if it’s true; I know much less about the Borgias than I do about the Tudors.

One thing I do know: If you’ve come to The Borgias looking for the same guilty pleasures you got from The Tudors, you are in for a good time. Wronged mistresses! Assassins named Micheletto! Flagellations galore! And Jeremy Freakin’ Irons.

Are you watching?

Photo Credit: Showtime

13 Responses to “The Borgias – Jeremy Irons is the Worst. Pope. Ever.”

April 3, 2011 at 10:57 PM

I’m pretty sure every pope is the worst pope. Dare we forget the current pervert NAZI pope? :-p

April 3, 2011 at 11:06 PM

Your opinion.

I don’t share it.


April 5, 2011 at 4:10 AM

Thanks, Ruby! – this German American Catholic :)

April 3, 2011 at 11:40 PM

Oreo needs some attention again.

April 4, 2011 at 2:13 PM

I was making a joke people, however the joke is 100% true.

April 4, 2011 at 2:53 PM

100% lie, from the pit of hell.

April 5, 2011 at 4:18 AM

Showtime had a few free days of channels this past week, so I got to see the first episode before the channel went out (it was actually about to go to the 2nd episode when it cut out, dang it).

Somehow, as a kid I went to a Catholic grade school that was actually good about bringing up the corruption of the Church during the middle ages through the renaissance. I think a lot of people don’t realize how interwoven religion and politics were in Europe. It’s why Henry the 8th’s rejection of the Pope created such chaos. I’m really interested in seeing more of this new show.

Also, did anyone else think of Assassin’s Creed throughout these first couple episodes?

April 5, 2011 at 9:38 AM

What is Assassin’s Creed?

Katie, you’re right. It’s important to make a distinction between the corrupt political entity that called itself the Church and the actual Church (i.e., true believers who live according to the teachings of Christ). I think The Borgias may address this once the reformer monk Savonarola enters the scene.

April 5, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Assasin’s Creed is a video game series about a bloodline of assasin’s for hire. The first game was set in the Holy Land during one of the crusades, but the second and third games are about an assasin living during the 15th and 16th century.

I actually just looked the game up to see when exactly it’s supposed to be set and guess who is one of the main villains? Bad Pope Borgia himself!

April 5, 2011 at 7:51 AM

You can tell Irons is having a lot of fun with the role. I’m curious to see if this show can match The Tudors in quality. It’s probably not fair, but it is an inevitable comparison.

April 5, 2011 at 9:29 AM

I think in terms of the quality of the production, it will be comparable. The challenge for The Borgias may simply be that it deals with a slice of history that is not nearly as well known as The Tudors. I mean, who doesn’t know about Henry 8 and his wives? Who doesn’t know about Katharine of Aragon vs. Anne Boleyn? The other challenge is that so much of The Borgias involves priests and the Church (inherently less glamorous than royals and the English court).

April 5, 2011 at 4:05 PM

It’s interesting that we see priests and the Church as less glamorous when Cardinal Orsini invites everyone to dine AT HIS PALACE. The idea of poverty among the servants of the Church, I’m sure decadence will not be left out of this series. Hell, there was an orgy in the first episode… and that was to celebrate the new Pope!

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