Thursday, November 14, 2013

Borgen Is Back

Ok, so it also helps that the Prime Minister, er, appeals to men of a certain age...
Season 2 of Borgen started on Wednesday night here in Australia on the "minority needs" channel SBS. I was really worried that Borgen wasn't ever going to be shown again here in Oz because last season Borgen only got about 40,000 viewers each week in Melbourne which represented less than 1% of the population of the Greater Melbourne Area. Borgen got even lower viewing figures in Australia's other capital cities. (For some reason all the quality shows get their highest ratings in Melbourne, while the lowest common denominator shows get their highest ratings in Sydney - make of that what you will...) But low ratings are a double edged sword aren't they? You want them to be low enough so that the show you're into doesn't become a pop culture phenomenon, but you don't want them to be so low that the network takes the show off the air, right?
...
Borgen is about the Danish parliament and machinations of Denmark's first female Prime Minister, her permanently unshaven annoying ex husband, her sprightly spin doctor, her dour cabinet colleagues and a spunky - slightly irritating - tabloid news reporter and her colleagues. More realistic than either House of Cards or The West Wing it's a political drama that usually gets by without much drama. (The Season 2 debut however was about the Danes in Afghanistan and had an entirely predictable oh I wonder if that young guy shaking the Prime Minister's hand is going to get hurt story arc. I hope the rest of Season 2 is more humdrum.) The whole thing is in Danish, of course, subtitled into English. I read on a TV blog that subtitled programmes do very badly in Oz because the Australian TV viewer is a multi-tasker who likes to surf the net with the TV on in the background, but Borgen is worth an hour of someone's undivided attention even if they're not a political theory geek like me. 
...
Denmark is one of the world's happiest countries, it's also one of the world's most socially mobile countries (i.e. poor Danes are given the opportunity to live what used to to be called the American dream) and its the place where women have the highest representation in politics and business. I guess that in one of our potential futures the whole of the West is going to look like this in about 30 years; if you're worried that Utopia is going to be a boring place to live watch Borgen and you'll that see that you're wrong. 

21 comments:

HARDBARNED said...

Unfortunately Borgen is not on Netflix yet, but I've been keeping an eye out for it. I cannot handle the commercials of TV, and the disc-based selection on Netflix beats the streaming, so we are perpetually ill-prepared for the water-cooler chats, but that's no problem. We're about to start S4 of The Wire (which we like very much) and just started Vikings S1, which looks very cool. Hoping the writing catches up with the visuals...

adrian mckinty said...

HB

I think you'll dig it. Its even more of a left wing fantasy than the West Wing but if you know that going in you'll be prepped.

seana graham said...

It's really a good show and I think it's very eye-opening for Americans, as the way power plays out in a parliamentary system is so different. Though I don't have a problem with captioning, I somehow have a hard time getting through a full hour at one go, as it's already a fairly meaty show to begin with. But the actors are all great, even if you're not so much swayed by the charms of Birgit Nyborg as some, though she's pretty charming, don't get me wrong. (In fact, probably my one criticism of the show is that some of the people representing less moderate views on both right and left are caricatured in fairly unattractive physical ways.)

One thing that always astounds me is how uninsulated the prime minister is. There's security, but she's still just living in her own middle class house and has no staff running the show there. She does get driven to the center of government, which is a drag because she used to be able to bike. But really, if Obama were to watch this, he would be consumed with envy.

Denmark appears to be ahead of the U.S in terms of parity of power between men and women, though I don't know if that holds true in life.

I'm also envious of the Danes ability to just turn on English or some other language at will.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

I know you mean about body image stuff. Why is the right wing defence ministry guy always the big fat dude?

I like the fact that there are hard choices to be made and its not always clear that the PM made the correct choice.

I wish in real life politicians could come clean about policy mistakes or changes of mind as easily as they seem to confess to sexual peccadillos and corruption.

seana graham said...

I'm always kind of amazed at what is a real hit against a politician and what isn't. For some reason, I still think of George Bush the first and his projectile vomiting in Japan being seen as some kind of major faux pas. I was no fan of the guy, but Jesus, give a guy a break every once in awhile.

Macca said...

I liked how, in the previous series, the big player in the government who got hit by a sex scandal was the tubby old scruffy bastard with the beard.

My fondest wish for the new series is for an assassin's bullet to narrowly miss the PM, killing her husband instantly.

Anne said...

The bad guys might be caricatured by looks, but at least the women leads in Scandanavian shows are reasonably normal looking (though still attractive) and not unfeasibly beautiful as in most American series. What a bummer that this is the last series.

Cary Watson said...

I'm sorry, but no TV show can possibly equal the insanity we've got going on in Toronto with our mayor, Rob Ford. Less than an hour ago in front of a huge press scrum he made an explicit statement about oral sex with his wife...and that's the least weird/criminal/disgusting thing he's done in months. One day it will all be a great TV series, sort of like The Wire crossed with The Simpsons.

seana graham said...

Cary, on the plus side for us below the border, it is refreshing to have one example of Canadians not being morally superior to us in every way. Although to take away from that a little, the hearing he was called before was more in the nature of an intervention than an inquisition, as Chris Hayes pointed out last night. It is hard to imagine the same scene playing out like that here.

adrian mckinty said...

Macca

I'd like a more ironic death for him. Perhaps he could be doing the Guardian crossword and have a stroke or he could choke to death on a vegan sausage.

adrian mckinty said...

Anne

You're right. They're not all young and "beautiful" like female leads on US shows. I say beautiful in quotation marks because the US networks idea of beauty isnt my own most of the time: blonde, big hair, big boobs, way too skinny...nobody looks like that in real life.

adrian mckinty said...

Cary

I'm not the first to say that its a real shame that Chris Farley is no longer with us to play him in a biopic.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana


I think a lot of Canadians are secretly enjoying this story.

Lester Carthan said...

What does minority mean in Australia, the picture Adrian posted looks like she belongs in the Majority.

adrian mckinty said...

Lester

Well in theory Borgen is played on SBS because it caters to the Australian Scandinavian community which has got to be a pretty small minority.

seana graham said...

I wonder if it's just that since they're already made and captioned in English, Australia got a good deal on the licensing.

There could also be some word of mouth right now from L.A., as there seems to be a lot of crossover there.

Rob James said...

Oh, I love this show so much. I've seen this series and am turgid with excitement at getting series 3 from the UK in a few weeks.

Kasper is a magnificent creation.

adrian mckinty said...

Seana

There is going to be a US version but I dont understand how that could possibly work.

adrian mckinty said...

Rob

YEah I love how Kasper is back to being a pathological liar again.

seana graham said...

I don't either. I assume they will make it be about a female president, but really, the West Wing vision is too strong right now.

feroz khan said...

Want to Learn Forex Trading and earn with Forex Business...?? The best Forex Trading Learning Website where you can get any thing about Forex, Trading updates, forex trading latest news, forex brokers directory, forex brokers list, Dollars news affairs, Stock Markets, stock market news, stock market analysis, technology news, international forex markets, international forex business news and all updates about Forex Trading
ForexAffairs.Com