So, you’ve finished The Wire, Breaking Bad and The Killing but you’re still hungry for more boxsets. Fear not, Standard Issue writers are on the case with some hidden gems you might not yet have seen. This week, Miss L gives Danish political drama Borgen her vote.
Right. Here’s the scenario: someone sidles up to you and offers you a Scandinavian political drama with, quite possibly, one of the greatest female leads of all time. First, obviously check to see if they’ve got any good knock-off watches and then you offer them all your money, belongings and that Netflix subscription which is collecting dust now you’ve finished Orange Is The New Black and RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Borgen, quite simply, is the show you need in your life. It follows the story of Birgitte Nyborg, leader of Denmark’s Moderate Party and, over the course of three series, we see how her political career and her relationships with her family, her country and the press bloom, fade and everything else in between.
Now, I could prattle on about the storylines. I could tell you about the incredible sexual tension between high-flying journalist Katrine Fonsmark (the sublime Birgitte Hjort Sørensen) and Birgitte’s Communications Chief, Kasper Juul, played so expertly by Pilou Asbæk – yes, the one who presented Eurovision last year.
“Sidse Babett Knudsen who plays Birgitte is just perfect. She is so beautifully human and, even when she’s making mistakes, you’ll wish you lived in a country where she was in charge.”
I could talk about the just incredible Hanne Holm (played with such breathtaking majesty by Benedikte Hansen) and the mesmerising Torben Friis (played so delicately by Søren Malling– an actor who crops up in pretty much every Danish drama going), two characters dealing with the pressures of the rapidly developing world of journalism.
We could talk about the marvellous Bent Sejrø (Lars Knutzon – an actor so good that you don’t laugh as much at the name ‘Bent’ as you normally would). And then there’s the evil Michael Laugesen (Peter Mygind) who perfectly embodies the maddening intertwining of the media and politics. We could even talk about Birgitte’s daughter, Laura (Freja Riemann) who, very much like Mad Men’s Megan, wonderfully becomes a fascinating character in her own right. Oh yeah. There are some cracking storylines.
But no. What I really want to talk to you about is Birgitte herself. A character so expertly written and so beautifully played. How do you know a character is good? Well, I’d say it’s a damn good sign when you not only find yourself crying when they’re going through hard times but you also find yourself blubbing when they smile.
Sidse Babett Knudsen who plays Birgitte is just perfect. While being a properly kick-ass leader, she has a stunning naivety as well. She is so beautifully human and, even when she’s making mistakes, you’ll wish you lived in a country where she was in charge. And although a lot of it is pretty damn serious, there are some lovely lighter moments too. Sidse was actually known as a comedy performer before Borgen and this really shows in the lightness she brings to the role.
Now, obviously, it’s subtitled. So it’s hard to really comment on the scripting because we might just be lucky to have a translator who really should be thinking about a career in scriptwriting. However, I highly doubt it. A translator couldn’t change the incredible relationship between Birgitte and her husband, Phillip. The scenes between them are always a delight, despite what’s going on in their relationship. And, of course, the best thing about subtitles is that you learn a bit of Danish along the way, too. Statsminister, tak, hej hej (pronounced hi hi) and præcis will all find their way into your daily language.
Still not convinced? After watching Borgen, you will never wear a pencil skirt and heels and not say, “Look! I’m Statsminister!” again. Now, really. What more could you possibly want from a programme?3794 Views