Something is right in the state of Denmark.
I’m not quite finished the first season of Danish political drama “Borgen” (meaning castle or government, apparently) but I can already give it two thumbs up if you’re a political drama fan. When I first heard people rave about its run on BBC 4, I’ll admit to being very sceptical, and suspected that it was being endorsed by people suffering from severe “The West Wing” withdrawal mixed with that certain snootiness reserved for people who rave about Danish drama and “Mad Men”.
Even after I watched the first episode, I was still curious but underwhelmed, especially in the frankly laughable way the main protagonist, Moderate Party leader Birgitte Nyborg Christensen’s party makes its election breakthrough.
Having said that, I kept watching, at the recommendation of the Northern Irish political commentator Gerry Lynch (Ulster’s Peter Snow) who suggested that it just gets better, and he was right. Now I’m hooked.
So what is it that makes “Borgen” good? From an Irish perspective, telling the story of multi-party coalition politics in a small EU country, it rings true, right down to local MPs wanting roads in their constituency. Having said that, there are marked differences. In “Borgen”, the politicans actually have policies unique to their political beliefs that they wish to pursue, a concept pretty much alien in Irish governments.
The acting is good, and the show also does a very good job covering the actual pressures of modern government, and how the prime minister’s marriage comes under huge pressure from trying to run a country and be a mother at the same time. Another character breaks up with her boyfriend because he doesn’t know who the justice minister is, which certainly reflects a reality I’ve seen with some people who become addicted to the Leinster House bubble and forget that most people don’t actually care that much about politics.
One episode, about Nyborg negotiating with a shady foriegn president, is interesting from an English speaking perspective because large amounts of it involve the lead characters all speaking through English with the president, which added a touch of realism and also revealed, by the way, that Nyborg has quite a sexy British accent when she speaks English. It’s also full of (and I’m being my good old chauvinst pig self here) very good looking Danish women, and good looking in a real way, not American television way. Any heterosexual man who has ever walked through Copenhagen will know exactly what I mean.
“Borgen” has been renewed for a third and final season next year. Don’t miss it.