Standing somewhere between The Killing and The Thick Of It, Borgen looks into the inner workings of the Danish political sphere, building a bit of a cult following as it charts the squabbles between the Moderate Party and the right-wing Freedom Party. The premise might initially sound like an article on a political blog, but Borgen distinguishes itself by concentrating on the people who desire to guide the country, whether they’re on a news team or in Parliament.
The most striking aspect of Borgen is the two strong females who are defined not by their family lives, but by their respective professional aspirations and integrity: Birgitte Nyborg, the driven and principled former Prime Minister, and Katrine Fønsmark, the brilliant political reporter who is learning to coordinate her life as a single mother with her sharp reporting instinct.
By exploring both aspects of the way we view politics – the media and that of the personal lives of politicians and how they interact within the political sphere, Borgen is a very well rounded political drama that doesn’t isolate the motives people have for wanting to engage in politics, nor the obstacles they’ll inevitably encounter as they clash and compete.
What is remarkable is how Birgitte’s career becomes interwoven with the less central characters and how their loyalties and feuds become inherent to her success. The writers aren’t afraid to broach a few touchy subjects as well, in particular the deportation of immigrants and the shady activities of inner parliament.
So, as long as you can cope with subtitles, Borgen is a great political drama that, like The Killing, promises a slow build-up of tension between the different factors that will determine Birgitte’s success and her reception among those she ultimately aims to govern.
Catch Borgen on BBC4, Saturdays at 9pm.
Zoe Delahunty Light