Power is well played

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TELEVISION - Bor­gen: Wed­nes­days, 9.30pm, SBS1

WHAT the mak­ers of the ac­claimed, ad­dic­tive Dan­ish crime drama The Killing did with a mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, they now do for the po­lit­i­cal process with the equally com­pelling se­ries Bor­gen.

Like The Killing, this se­ries has a strong fe­male char­ac­ter call­ing the shots – in this case, Bir­gitte Ny­borg (Sidse Ba­bett Knud­sen) runs the coun­try.

Ny­borg, the head of a mod­er­ate po­lit­i­cal party, is cat­a­pulted into power af­ter scan­dal tar­nishes the lead­ers of the two more prom­i­nent Dan­ish par­ties.

Ca­pa­ble and charis­matic, she is nev­er­the­less star­tled to be­come the coun­try’s first fe­male prime min­is­ter. And be­ing voted into of­fice doesn’t guar­an­tee an easy ride – there are plenty of lows to ac­com­pany the highs.

Sex­ism raises its ugly head, with many of Ny­borg’s col­leagues and op­po­nents more than will­ing to voice their op­po­si­tion to her new po­si­tion. How­ever, th­ese voices of dis­sent – and re­sponses – are rarely pre­sented in a cliched or over­bear­ing fash­ion, some­thing that gives the gen­der pol­i­tics of Bor­gen greater res­o­nance and im­pact.

And Ny­borg has an ace up her sleeve in the form of spin doc­tor Kasper Juul (Pilou As­baek). Juul is flawed, but fiercely loyal and does what­ever needs do­ing to en­sure any prob­lems are neu­tralised quickly and qui­etly.

On the home front, Ny­borg is a happily mar­ried mother of two whose hus­band puts his ca­reer aside af­ter her rise to power. But po­lit­i­cal life looks set to add strain to the mar­riage.

Add to this the ev­ery­day grind of pol­i­tics – the com­pro­mises that ap­pear to ac­com­pany the most mun­dane de­ci­sions – and it’s clear Ny­borg is fac­ing one hell of a chal­lenge.

It’s also clear she has the drive, in­tegrity and nous to take on the finer de­tails of each task.

Like The Killing, Bor­gen (which trans­lates as ‘‘cas­tle’’, the Danes’ nick­name for par­lia­ment), ex­pertly weaves in plot­lines re­lated to its main story. The me­dia plays a piv­otal role, with two other in­trigu­ing fe­male char­ac­ters also the cen­tre of at­ten­tion.

Am­bi­tious jour­nal­ist Katrine (Bir­gitte Hjort Sorensen) is in­volved with Juul, blur­ring the lines be­tween their per­sonal and pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship, while Katrine’s edi­tor Hanne (Benedikte Hansen) pro­vides both a sym­pa­thetic ear and a can­did voice of rea­son.

It’s an en­gag­ing gallery of char­ac­ters, and along with some en­gross­ing sto­ry­telling, it makes Bor­gen a show that will draw you in and keep you there.

Sidse Ba­bett Knud­sen (cen­tre)

The po­lit­i­cal process is dis­sected in this Dan­ish drama, writes Guy Davis

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