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Rejected Show Concepts by the Creators of 'The Young Pope'

From hot babies to talking cigarettes, we imagine the ideas writers vetoed before settling on "The Young Pope."

Monica Heisey

Monica Heisey

Screenshot via HBO

Look, we're all very excited about The Young Pope, and with good reason: Edgy television is a thrill. Imagine it: a pope, who is young. I mean, what's next? The Female Pope? The Dog Pope? The creators of the upcoming HBO series have served up a exciting and unexpected marriage in the idea of a Pope (usually old) and a young guy (typically not the Pope). Add that to Diane Keaton as an old-ass nun, some fancy golden coat dresses, and several shots of Jude Law smoking moodily in a golden dress, and you've got a hit on your hands.

But before they came up with the miniseries that launched a thousand memes, the show's creators went through a few other groundbreaking options. Read on for a taste, but be warned: Some of these show ideas may shock you.

Read more: Please Read This Excerpt from My Important Male Sex Novel

Hot Baby
Winter, 1971: at a hospital in Russia, a baby is born smoking a cigarette. Doctors gather around its incubator, concerned and turned on. The supervising nurse consults a clipboard, then peers down at the infant: "Doctor, I've never seen anything like it. We've run all the tests and this baby... is hot." Inside the crib, the baby winks and adjusts its tiny, ostentatious hat. The baby is played by Robert Downey Jr.

Drug Principal
Trent Vickman (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a mild-mannered high school principal... NOT. He's a 32 year-old "fuccboi," as the teens would say, who's bad news for the female staff at St. Prudington's School for Frigid Girls. Hired after students underperformed on statewide coolness tests for another year, school officials know he's bad news, but what choice do they have? Vickman rides his motorcycle through St. Prudington's gates and never looks back, changing the lives of the school's students and staff, and getting a nun guidance counsellor (Viola Davis) pregnant. Also he also does drugs throughout.

If Dinosaurs... Fucked
A wizened Carcharodontosaurus (Al Pacino) lies entwined with a young, topless Iguanodon (Shailene Woodley). They're exhausted from yet another carnivorous orgy. Blood and dino cum is like, everywhere. Pacino struggles to wipe his brow with a three-fingered claw. Global extinction hangs in the air as Metallica swells and Pacino peers across the plains: "The Cretaceous are always more extreme than the Triassic."

Unruly Nannies
Helen Mirren, Ellen Burstyn, and Queen Latifah play three complicated women who are unapologetically flawed and topless most of the time they're operating their mid-sized daycare program. If you thought men had the market cornered on being recklessly drunk in the day and lying to their spouses about it, you'll love watching Burstyn's slurred screams at Tobey Maguire, her nephew (and husband!) who just wishes she'd be less unruly, for once. Spoiler alert: She won't be.

A Cigarette Who's a Guy
In an unexpected and frankly extremely edgy twist, the star of this show is a cigarette. Tom Hanks stars as a brash, sarcastic, name-taking Belmont, come to life after a witch pisses on an extinguished cigarette in an alley. Set behind twelve different authentic Chinese restaurants, the show tackles society's greatest taboos, from sex work to littering. In a surprisingly crude performance, Hanks fucks his way through some of the worst neighborhoods in New York. But he's not looking for love, just a light.