The Vatican’s Next Top Catholic

New Pope!
Hollywood reacts to the choice.
It’s said that real life is stranger than fiction. And in the case of ordaining a new Pope, that has certainly been true. Viewers – Catholics and non-Catholics alike – seemed glued to their sets as the cable news channels broadcast every puff of smoke to come out of the Vatican chimney.

After two days and two rounds of voting resulting in black smoke, white smoke billowed from the chimney on Wednesday, signaling that a new Vicar of Jesus Christ (one of the titles he will inherit) had been chosen. In the end: The Vatican’s Next Top Catholic is Argentina’s Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who will be known as Pope Francis I from now on.

It was all rather thrilling, really, and actually became quite the water cooler talk here at Celebuzz (The Bachelor finale, what?). TV producers can only wish to create a reality show this spellbinding, which had us thinking…

From the suspense to the pageantry, here’s five reasons why the Papal Conclave was the Best. Reality. Show. Ever.

1. Open call auditions. The criteria for which clergymen can be considered candidates for becoming a Pope is a lot more general than you’d think – the main eligibility criteria really only requires you to be a male, who’s under 85 years old, and Catholic (duh). Clearly, most viable candidates have been appointed bishops or cardinals. But, that doesn’t mean that whittling the process down couldn’t be very engaging television. Yes, we watched Showtime’s The Borgias. The backroom politics can get very heated.

2. The ritual of smoke. Many reality shows have some type of symbolic ritual to signify each passing round of competition, whether it be the Rose Ceremony on The Bachelor, the extinguishing of one’s flame on CBS’s Survivor, or the simple “You’re out” moment on Project Runway. The Papal Conclave, a foundation that has been active for centuries, happens to use black smoke and white smoke to visually depict to the audience exactly what is going on inside the Vatican during appointment time.

3. The Room of Tears is much like the confessional. This room where we get up close and personal with a reality show’s stars dates back to the first Real World. Now, the confessional interview is a staple on pretty much every reality show. The Papal Conclave equivalent? The Room of Tears. It’s where the newly selected pope gathers his emotions and steps into the Papal robes for the first time. Imagine the emotion of capturing that on camera?

4. The wardrobe. The Top Chef winner, for example, can be identified by his or her chef’s jacket – something only a small group of contenders can claim to own. Let’s forget that every cardinal is dressed in their appropriate accoutrements. But after the white smoke signified a choice had been made, the new Pope would be dressed for the official announcement.

5. The huge audience. Millions of Catholics, non-Catholics, lookie loos and people looking to make wisecracks? That equals buzz, Twitter trending topics, and, of course, ratings – all things any network could want for its shows. If the whole selection occurred during primetime, it most certainly could knock American Idol off its perch.

Were you as spellbound by the Papal Conclave as we were? Sound off on the selection process below.

Marcelle Luna contributed to this post.

Watch below: Bill Maher’s new rules for the Pope.

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