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?
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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. 
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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.