Adam Price’s impeccable Danish political TV series, Borgen (The Castle), is an incredible ride into Danish politics and is sure to please fans of The West Wing and David Fincher’s version of House of Cards. The series follows the rise of Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) as the leader of the Moderate Party, who becomes the new Prime Minister. Along with her communications chief, Kasper Juul (Pilou Asbæk) and her finance minister Bent Sejrø (Lars Knutson), they embark on traversing the murky waters that are Danish politics. The hour long drama has been on since the fall of 2010, but has now reached our shores, with season three recently airing in Denmark. Full of fantastic writing and an incredible cast that always manage to make the power plays and political intrigue engaging for this riveting drama.
While the politics are a bit dumbed down, in comparison to other shows, Borgen still manages to be engaging on many levels. Whether it be the various connections that link all of the characters together or the actions of a character that effect the other cast members, Borgen works as a political drama, unlike any other. Knudsen’s performance as Nyborg is extremely interesting and goes through an astonishing transformation, which gets to the central themes of the series. Placed into a major seat of power, her political and personal world is turned upside down when having to deal with both the responsibility and the baggage of being Prime Minister. Knudsen, as well as Benedikte Hansen’s performance as the tough as nails reporter Hanne Holm, present very strong female characters, something that’s both refreshing and progressive in modern television.
While there are times where the series feels more like a soap opera than a political thriller, I’m sure this is to make it appeal to a broader audience. While a more concrete approach would certainly be much more appealing and honest, the fact that Borgen is doing enough with its characters and situations was enough for me to enjoy. The use and role that the media portrays in the series, shows an appropriate response to how media generates both controversy and how it can blur the lines between reality, as the public knows it. This element was enough for me to give in to the plausibility of Borgen and at least gave me enough comfort, amidst the love affairs and other dramatic aspects that were paraded though the first seasons ten episodes.
With the series offering a nice take on “absolute power corrupts, absolutely”, I was somewhat smitten on Borgen and I’m sure that anyone that appreciates a solid political series would certainly feel the same way. Recommended!