Borgen (translated as the castle or the citadel) comes to us from Denmark, and is a series about the Danish political system. The lead character, Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) is the head of the Moderate Party when she unexpectedly becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark.
It’s unfair, I think, to say “unexpectedly” when in truth Birgitte sees a great opportunity and reaches out to grab it. The Danish political system is Parliament-based, with a multitude of different parties so unlike the two-party debacle I’m familiar with here in the States. Throughout the series — which spans three seasons and thirty hour-long episodes — we get to watch Birgitte try to navigate the system, all the while trying to maintain a family, relationships, and her own personal values.
Seriously, this series is utterly brilliant. The characters are rich, well-written, and amazing, and in the case of Kaspar Juul (Pilou Asbæk, the Ewan McGregor sort-of-lookalike above), not hard to look at. The stories are compelling, although sometimes the political outcomes are a bit pat — again, I’m watching this from the perspective of an American who has pretty much given up on ever seeing anything cohesive being accomplished by her current government. Forgive me.
The series also touches on the personal sacrifices that Birgitte has to make that are to the detriment of her family, mostly because of the “Superwoman” complex that modern mothers are forced into/feel they must be. Yes, it comes from both sides. We all know it does. A man in the same position is rarely asked about how he will balance his family and work lives, yet it is th first subject that is brought up regarding a woman. It ticks me off, frankly. Forgive me. Again.
I recall when my former governor, Janet Napolitano, was about to be nominated to head Homeland Security. Some politico bozo (male, of course) blathered to another politico bozo, “She has no personal life, that’d be a good job for her.” The underlying statement is that if Janet did have a spouse and/or a family, she wouldn’t be a good candidate for the job. In Birgitte’s case, her husband can’t deal with the notion that she is the damned Prime Minister, for heaven’s sake, and he might have to take care of all the stuff normally a politician’s wife would take care of, and do with a smile, so he acts all pouty and butt-hurt. Forgive me yet again.
Actually, no. Don’t forgive me because that’s not something I should be apologizing for. At any rate, take some time and watch Borgen. You can get the discs from Netflix. It’s bloody fantastic. And it’s one of Stephen King’s favorite shows, and so far, I don’t think American TV will try to remake it, and therefore ruin it (don’t get me started on Gracepoint. Please. It’s not safe).