The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings
A CurtainUp Streaming Feature
By Elyse Sommer
So why am I urging you to make time to see Borgen, a political series set in a country you associate with a pastry and a government that works inside a castle? Maybe I'm only kidding, and this isn't a political drama but a newly discovered Hans Chrhistian Anderson fairy tale with lots of enjoyable music and ballet dancing.
But no, Borgen is indeed a political series, with three seasons of ten one-hour-long episodes each. It's as good — no, better — than anything in the political fiction genre you're likely to see in a long time. No matter that the crises and issues in Borgen play out in a different country and time-frame than ours. In fact, that serves to explain why even in a small country like Denmark the political landscape can entail moral challenges, and that a series in that setting can be authentic and meaningful enough to be informative and remarkably relevant no matter what our native language and our circumstances when we watch it.
A caveat before you heed my advice to put Borgen on your must-see list of streamed outings. Birgitte Nyborg Christensen, (Sidse Babett Knudsen) the Danish politician whose personal and professional life you'll follow, is an every-woman and her story and that of the characters in her orbit is so compelling that you'll find it hard not to hit the "next episode" button again and again.
Even dedicated bingers are unlikely to watch more than one session at a time. Those three seasons totaling thirty hours cover so much to absorb and enjoy: The personal and professional ups and down of all the main characters, as well as events paralleling the #MeToo movement, increased conservatism and its effect on immigration, health care, diplomacy, and journalistic integrity.
To avoid spoilers, here's just a brief overview of the seriesl: When we first meet Birgitte she's an outspoken member of a small, liberal party (The Danish government functions with a handful of parties) who becomes not the party's key voice but the country's first female prime minister. Besides her own stumbles a (nod triumphs, are those of charismatic TV news anchor Katrina Fonsmark (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen); her spin doctor Kasper Juul (Pilou Asbaek); News editor Forben Fris (Soren Malling); and an older journalist Hanna Hohn (Benedikte Hansen). The demands of the PM job also affect her marriage to husband Philip ( Mikael Birkkaer).
There's plenty of opportunity for absorbing drama from all these characters-- as well as Brigitte's children, and others. Except for an obnoxious new boss at the TV station, the script and actors portraying them make us care care about each — so much so, that after a while the less than ideal dubbing and captions stop being a problem. I'll admit that my own favorite, was . the intensely committed and passionate Katrina.
While Birgitte is the character around whom everything pivots, she and Katrina and Hannah Hohn are a powerful triumvirate of women still up against the reality for women struggling to have it all.
Each season ends with Birgitte on the verge of a new challenge, so I can't wait to see what happens in the just announced fourth season. This country has already seen women attain powerful positions and is about to have its first female vicepresident. However it's still locked into a two-party system so learning how Denmark does function with numerous parties, I can't help wondering if the Republicans who refused to stay tied to the Trump apron strings might not, as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman suggested, succeed as a more true-to-our-constitution new party.a
Finally, a word about Danish pastries. While Denmark does have a real female prime minister (Mette Frederiksen), Danish pastries originated in Austria and were imported and developed into a specialty there. Today, a Danish is a sweet treat in bakeries everywhere. So, why not indulge your sweet tooth as well as your taste for high quality online entertainment.
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Created by Adam Price
Written by Adam Price, Jeppe Gjervig Gram and Tobias Lindholm
Directed by Soren Kragh-Jacobsen, Rumle Hammerich
Sidse Babett Knudsen as Birgitte Nyborg Christensen a minor centrist politician who becomes the first female Prime Minister of Denmark.
Katrine Fonsmark as Birgitte Hjort Sorensen , a TV1 news anchor
Pilou Asbaek as Kasper Juul, a spin doctor
Soren Malling as Torben Friis, news editor for TV1
Mikael Birkkaer as Birgitte's husband, Phillip
Benedikte Hansen as Hanne Holm, a journalist
In Danish, but dubbed and with captions
> 3 seasons, 30 1-hour episodes each
Released 9/26/10 to 3/20/13
Currently available for streaming at Netflix
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer