Power is well played
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.
The political process is dissected in this Danish drama, writes Guy Davis