Last night’s episode of Succession featured a breakneck, stressful presidential race to 270 electoral votes that threatened to upend my delicate cocktail of Lexapro and weed—but it wasn’t that poll that had Twitter shook. No, it was an entirely different one that asked who’s hotter: young Al Pacino or young Robert DeNiro?
The question, first poised on May 13 by former Jezebel senior reporter and NYC-based writer Ashley Reese who wanted to settle an argument she was having at a wedding, is simple: Take two Italian-American Hollywood legends, at their prime hotness, in the throes of youth, and pit them against each other. A fire of discourse spread throughout Twitter from the moment she dropped the poll, with people posting pictures of the two young studs in the comments to support their arguments and others quote-tweeting her to suggest, blasphemously, that neither one was hot (a lie). Even TMZ and Vanity Fair weighed in.
“I honestly don’t even remember how this came up at the wedding. I was at a wedding for one of my late husband’s law school classmates and I was at the dinner table with all the law school friends, just goofing off. I don’t know WHAT prompted this debate but I’m sure I started the poll over who was hotter: Young Pacino or young DeNiro,” Reese, who is “very vocally Team Pacino” told Kotaku via Twitter DM. “The table was basically split, even after doing a lot of google image searching...so I decided to make a Twitter poll to get an idea of what The People outside of this wedding party believe.”
But as the poll creeped closer to its completion, it became clear that this would become one of those touchstone internet moments that you struggle to explain to your Boomer parents. Not only had Reese (inadvertently, she tells Kotaku) set the poll to end during the presidential election episode of Succession, but it was mirroring the events of the episode itself, which saw fictitious presidential hopefuls Jeryd Mencken (Justin Kirk) and Daniel Jiménez (Elliot Villar) locked in a tie for a portion of the night.
“I didn’t even realize it was going to cut into Succession until a friend pointed it out. Fitting that it was also an election episode. To my embarrassment, I was maybe a little more focused on the poll than the episode until the poll was over about 20 min into the episode,” Reese admits.
As the night went on, the margin between DeNiro and Pacino was either nonexistent, or so small it was sending people into a frenzy, with Reese herself demanding that the Pacino TikTok girlies jump into the fray to try and even the score.
I myself voted for Robert DeNiro, with the mental images of him tattooed and terrifying in Cape Fear and smoking a bowl in Jackie Brown swaying my decision. Though, as many people pointed out, Pacino in The Godfather is a pretty nice piece of torta, ya know what I mean?
The Pacino/DeNiro polls closed before the Succession episode polls closed, and although the latter’s ended on a controversial decision (ultra-right Republican Menken won after hundreds of thousands of likely liberal ballots were burned in an attack on a polling center), the former ended in a tie. Yes, a tie. 50/50 DeNiro/Pacino split. But just like the show it accidentally mirrored, the results weren’t actually 100% reliable: Reese tweeted a picture showing DeNiro narrowly edging out Pacino (50.1% to 49.9%), while other Twitter users (myself included), currently see a 50/50 tie.
“On the browser version of Twitter you can see a more accurate breakdown of the numbers and after Pacino had a good lead, the DeNiro heads caught up. I think the final result was a .2% difference,” Reese says.
If you didn’t get a chance to vote in the poll, or you did and want reassurance that you made the right decision, we’ve gathered some images of young DeNiro and young Pacino in a slideshow for you. Just click through and see where you stand on the young Italian-American actor hotness debate. I would like to point out that I have managed to not make a spicy sausage joke this entire time. You’re welcome.