Only Jeremy Irons and company can make the act of being Pope seem like a plot line in a steamy Sidney Sheldon novel....
Paramount / 467 Minutes / 2011 / Unrated / Street Date: December 27, 2011
A de facto Mensa candidate compared to other bodice-ripping historical dramas like Camelot or The Tudors, The Borgias gets a pass (albeit a slim one) simply because it does the good deed of balancing riveting performances and lush, almost overpowering production value with its revolving door of jiggling ta-tas. There's a popping, overdramatic frenzy to The Borgias, but there's enough emotional gravitas to the series' inaugural season to keep the thing afloat.
As this sophomore season sets in, we see Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons) ensconced firmly as Pope. After spending time in the show's first season lying, cheating, and stealing in an attempt to gain this esteemed position, now he has to worry about the repercussions of actually going through papal motions. He relishes dealing with his rival, Giuliano della Rovere (Colm Feore), he's a new grandfather (though don't ask him about who his daughter's (Holliday Grainger's) baby-daddy is), and he even finds himself able to stave off the plague - well, kind of.
The Borgias is the kind of series I found myself slightly embarrassed to sit through - it sinks its hooks into you quickly and firmly enough early on that you take for granted a lot of the show's flagrant, romance-novel eros - but it's easy to understand why the series has the fan base it does. This is historical romance and powerplay with big-Hollywood money behind it, enough to flush out any and all missteps inherent in each one of its opulent story arcs. You may not be able to legitimately call it a good show, but you'll eat it up, nonetheless.