Fancy watching a subtitled Danish political series named Borgen which details the events of the first female Prime minister of Denmark and the issues she faces in office? It would not surprise me if your answer is no…
Why is it then, that upon watching Borgen, it becomes so compelling to watch?
The producers DR, acclaimed for the highly popular series The Killing, have successfully launched the second series of Borgen on BBC Four at the beginning of the New Year. It gives the account of two female protagonists, Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and journalist Katrine Fønsmark (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), and displays both the hostile yet intertwining and crucial relationship between the press and government.
This second series kick-starts with the Prime Minister visiting troops in Afghanistan resulting in a Taliban attack and a swift return to Denmark. Yet, although eleven months since Birgitte Nyborg entered government, promising Denmark’s withdrawal from war, she does the opposite to this and increases their involvement. The series therefore immediately leaps into the debates, hostilities and conflictions which occur in coalition politics.
Yet, unless budding in Scandinavian politics, we watchers might not really feel the need to know much more about the political issues that circulate our Danish neighbours. Indeed, Borgen’s display of these political controversies might merely sustain one’s perception that it is a dry political drama. However, it seems not to bore our interest as Borgen combines this political aspect with the characters and the relationships between them, making this drama so gripping.
The increasing enticement that the audience beholds over the fluctuating relationship between reporter Katrine and spin doctor Kaspar (Pilou Asbæk), coincides with Birgitte Nyborg’s declaration, ‘I’m at war at the office. I’m at war at home,’ as she leads her country to stay in Afghanistan whilst also facing an unwanted divorce at home and her children’s reaction to this. Moreover, Katrine’s increasing curiosity of Kaspar’s dark past, which he has kept hidden from everybody in his life, is finally revealed to her in this new series.
It becomes clear then that Borgen is more than the dry Danish political series that we presume it to be.
Borgen explores the vast vicissitudes that life can behold; from the relationships between the professional and personal, to family and friends, sexuality and infidelity, and to separation and loss. It is not solely about the intricacies and dilemmas of contemporary coalition politics within an unfamiliar political backdrop, although this does make it more absorbing to watch. It is how the characters deal with these political dilemmas whilst also keeping their personal lives, and the difficulties that resolve around them, intact.
Borgen is a drama that should simply not be overlooked.