Borgen (S1-S3) Series: Refreshing Political Drama From Denmark

The “Borgen” is a refreshing political drama from Denmark. The Danish title “Borgen” is also a nickname for Christianborg, a former royal palace and present-day Parliament.

The fact is that all three branches of the Danish government reside at Christianborg, viz., the Parliament, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Supreme Court in Denmark. Thus, it is the power centre of Denmark. In addition, the “Borgen also means “The Castle” or “The Fortress” in the Danish language.


Focus:- brief note on Nordic/Scandi/Scandinavian-Noir

Before we delve any further into the details of this “Borgen” series, allow us to explain the Nordic Noir briefly. Well according to the Nordics: “The Nordic Noir is most often considered a specific genre of TV series. However, it also includes literature, film productions, and video games. Besides, it has even been extended to style, design, and music. Its key elements include a murky atmosphere, dark narratives, and flawed protagonists. Its popularity may lie in the fact that it usually undercuts the dominant narrative of the Nordics as thriving states with happy people and successful economies, but there is a dark underbelly here, too.” The Nordic Noir genre is also known as Scandinavian Noir or Scandi Noir, as it is set in the Nordic or Scandinavian countries of Europe. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland Islands are part of the Nordic Region.

Now, let us talk about this political show.


Key Details about the Borgen (S1, S2 & S3) Series

GenreDrama
Original languageDanish
CreatorAdam Price
SeasonsThree (2010, 2011, & 2013)
Episodes Ten (10) episodes in Season 1 (2010),
Ten (10) episodes in Season 2 (2011), &
Ten (10) episodes in Season 3 (2013).
Total = Thirty (30) episodes in three (3) seasons.
CastSidse Babett Knudsen (Birgitte Nyborg), Peter Mygind (Michael Laugesen), Lars Knutzon (Bent Sejerø), Mikael Birkkjær (Phillip Christensen), Pilou Asbæk (Kasper Juul), Birgitte Hjort Sørensen (Katrine Fønsmark), Thomas Levin (Ulrik Mørch), Benedikte Hansen (Hanne Holm), Christian Tafdrup (Alexander Hjort), etc.
About – Borgen Show.
** Please note that its fourth season was released as a separate series titled Borgen - Riget, Magten, og Æren (its international title being Borgen – Power & Glory) on Netflix in June 2022. There are Eight (8) episodes in the Season 4 (2022) show. Please also read our FM article on Borgen - Power & Glory (2022) Series. Also, please note that there is a huge jump in its story, as there is considerable gap of a decade between the third and the fouth season of the said show.

Spoilers Free review of the Borgen (S1, S2, & S3) Series

The introduction

This Nordic Noir drama series was created by the producers – the “Danish public broadcaster (DR)”. In the past, they have given us the critically acclaimed crime drama “The Killing” series, reviewed in Focus Magazine. The genre of this series is quite different from the usual series. It focuses on the contemporary political drama in Denmark.

The Danish political world is so different

Borgen is one of the brilliant and far-sighted political dramas of recent times. Somehow, it makes you believe in the rare class of honest and idealist politicians. In our part of the world, we could never imagine any minister and/or prime minister cycling to their offices in democratic India. In our country, politics is all about power. Besides it is always pomp and grandeur associated with the modern-day Maharaja. Or should we say the elected minister/prime minister of the democratic nation?

This fresh drama deals with various important issues

So, this excellent Danish political series is like a breadth of fresh air, with its believable and courageous political leaders (esp. Birgitte) handling the complex burning issues confronting the common public and the members of the Fourth Estate maturely. It also tackles issues of corruption, public work-personal life balance, gender issues, illegal surveillance, etc. These politicians do their administrative jobs without actually using a divide-and-rule policy.

We loved the realistic touches

But, then we are shown some of the other realistic elements (corruption, scandals, corporate world linkages, illegal surveillance, etc.) in Danish politics, that opens one’s eyes. We must clarify that it does not paint the real world of politics (business, media, spin doctors, legal, bureaucracy, etc.) as black and white, there are lots of grey areas too, as they pertain to realistic issues.

The rough world of politics

To be honest, the world of politics is all about making deals and compromises.

And this is what the protagonist Birgitte did when she decided to pursue political power, often sacrificing her family life.

Besides, in coalition politics of Denmark, with many political parties with different ideologies coming together to form a national government, Birgitte Nyborg was often put in difficult positions. Many a time, she had to put her own political and personal beliefs on the back burner. Then she had to compromise with her political allies as well as political detractors to keep her government going in the Danish political system.

Politics is a tough and challenging job, indeed.

I’ve made a point of not watching Sidse Babett Knudsen too closely just to make sure I’m not too influenced by her. If anything, it sometimes feels more as if life is imitating art.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt | Denmark’s real life female Prime Minister

Focus on the lead actress Sidse Babett Knudsen

Also, in this political series, we find the absence of Machiavellian traits in the lead political character Birgitte Nyborg. Although, there are quite a few traits that we do not like in her character, as she climbs the political ladder. The protagonist Birgitte is amazingly played by actor Sidse Babett Knudsen, as she made us respect her role as a leading politician.

Danish actress Sidse Babett Knudsen primarily acts in theatre, television, and movies. She is considered to be one of the best actresses of her generation in Denmark. Besides this series, she is known for her acts in the Westworld 2016 series, Den Eneste Ene (English title: The One and Only) 1999 Danish movie, After the Wedding (Danish: Efter Brylluppet) 2006 Danish-Swedish film, Courted (French: L’Hermine) 2015 French movie, et al.

The conclusion

Not to forget, its entire ensemble cast has performed well in this show. As we hinted earlier, they are led by lead actress Sidse Babett, and other key actors like Birgitte Hjort, Pilou Asbæk, Lars Mikkelsen, etc. We also liked its theme music. One must watch the first three seasons of this captivating show, to understand the uniquely charming world of Danish politics and politicians, which are so much different from the politicians that we have here in our homeland. It is a smart and intelligent political drama from Denmark.


Borgen (S1/2010) Series

Synopsis

A shocking turn of events puts Birgitte Nyborg Christensen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) in the Danish prime minister’s seat as her country’s first female leader in this landmark drama.

Trailer

Trailer – Borgen (S1/2010) Show | YouTube.

Ratings

FM’s rating4.35/5
Rotten Tomatoes ratings as of the date100% Tomatometer & 98% Audience Score
Critics Consensus / Rotten TomatoesThis show refreshingly couples an empowering feminist narrative with a clear-eyed view of political machinations — culminating in a sterling standard bearer for Danish drama.
FM & Rotten Tomatoes ratings – Borgen (S1/2010) Show.

Poster

Borgen (S1/2010) Show – Poster.

Borgen (S2/2011) Series

Synopsis

While her personal life begins to unravel, Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen) struggles to maintain power as prime minister with the help of her cynical spin doctor, Kasper Juul (Pilou Asbæk).

Trailer

Trailer – Borgen (S2/2011) Show | YouTube.

Ratings

FM’s rating4.45/5
Rotten Tomatoes ratings as of the date100% Tomatometer & 98% Audience Score
Adam Sweeting/Rotten TomatoesBack amid themes of political infighting, media skulduggery and personal relationships under pressure, this show had, amid sighs of relief, come home to where it belonged.
FM & Rotten Tomatoes ratings – Borgen (S2/2011) Show.

Poster

Borgen (S2/2011) Show – Poster.

Borgen (S3/2013) Series

Synopsis

Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen), who has left politics to become a corporate board member, reenters the arena and challenges the Moderate leader for control of the party.

Trailer

Trailer – Borgen (S3/2012) Show | YouTube.

Ratings

FM’s rating4.25/5
Rotten Tomatoes ratings as of the date100% Tomatometer & 97% Audience Score
Critics Consensus/ Rotten TomatoesTwisty and tantalizing, its third season examines the personal toll of being a public figure with unrestrained honesty.
FM & Rotten Tomatoes ratings – Borgen (S3/2012) Show.

Poster

Borgen (S3/2012) Show – Poster.

Spoilers Alert – episode summary of this Nordic political drama

Season (1) One

Decency in the Middle (S1, E1) | September 26, 2010

A surprise victory for Denmark’s first female prime minister throws her into dilemmas that push her to make tough compromises at home and work.

Count to 90 (S1, E2) | October 3, 2010

Denmark’s first female prime minister tries to bring together a divided parliament and form a new government.

The Art of the Possible (S1, E3) | October 10, 2010

Birgitte Nyborg is forced to re-open the budget negotiations and sign off on the annual state budget before the Christmas holidays.

100 Days (S1, E4) | October 17, 2010

Karen Fonsmark is contacted by an anonymous source in the Defence Intelligence Service and is offered the greatest journalistic scoop of her career.

Men Who Love Women (S1, E5) | October 24, 2010

Birgitte and her Minister of Economic Affairs introduce a historic bill which will obligate the boards of Danish companies to have 50 women members.

State Visit (S1, E6) | October 31, 2010

The president of the former Soviet state Turgisia visits Denmark to take over the chairmanship of the International Organisation for Security, Democracy and Development.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil (S1, E7) | November 7, 2010

Birgritte’s home life suffers from her absence; Katrine, who has otherwise been in good spirits, must make a difficult decision.

The Silly Season (S1, E8) | November 14, 2010

Kasper Juul worries when Michael Laugesen’s new book release promises to reveal everything from his time in politics.

Divide and Rule (S1, E9) | November 21, 2010

Minister of Defense Hans Christian Thorsen announces that Denmark has chosen the F-26 Defender as its future solution.

The First Tuesday in October (S1, E10) | November 28, 2010

Birgitte Nyborg’s government faces a severe test shortly before the annual opening of parliament.

Season (2) Two

89,000 Children (S2, E1) | September 25, 2011

During a visit to Afghanistan, Birgitte and Kasper are evacuated when the Taliban launches an offensive.

In Brussels, No One Can Hear You Scream (S2, E2) | October 2, 2011

Birgitte must appoint a new EU commission and her old mentor is the obvious candidate; Kasper prepares to move in with his girlfriend.

The Last Worker (S2, E3) | October 9, 2011

Birgitte’s government prepares to present a new reform package; Phillip has a new girlfriend; Katrine covers the political seminar for Laugesen.

Battle Ready (S2, E4) | October 16, 2011

Troels Höxenhaven steps in as the new party leader; pirates hijack a Danish ship off Somalia’s coast; compromising photos of Höxenhaven turn up at the Ekspres.

Plant a Tree (S2, E5) | October 23, 2011

Birgitte faces the reality of the parties’ unwillingness to compromise; Katrine receives an unusual job offer that tests her personal beliefs.

Them and Us (S2, E6) | October 30, 2011

Birgitte’s new government gets back on track after the Green Party’s exit; Svend Åge Madsen submits a bill to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 12; Laura recovers from a panic attack.

What Is Lost Inwardly Must Be Gained Outwardly – Part I (S2, E7) | November 6, 2011

Joachim Crohne’s political idea; Kasper and Katrine grow close again.

What Is Lost Inwardly Must Be Gained Outwardly – Part II (S2, E8) | November 13, 2011

Birgitte’s government loses steam; an opinion poll indicates Birgitte may lose the next election; Kasper and Katrine grow close again.

The Sanctity of Private Life (S2, E9) | November 20, 2011

Laura’s illness worsens; Birgitte’s tax reforms force her to pay out of pocket at the hospital; Birgitte and Phillip rediscover some of their lost love.

An Extraordinary Remark (S2, E10) | November 27, 2011

Birgitte takes a leave from her post to focus on family; Kasper and Katrine hunt for apartments together.

Season (3) Three

A Child of Denmark (S3, E1) | January 1, 2013

Birgitte Nyborg has left the political arena but, disillusioned by the direction her party has taken, she plans a comeback.

The Land Is Built on Law (S3, E2) | January 6, 2013

Birgitte Nyborg, forced to acknowledge her defeat to Jacob Kruse in the battle for the leadership of the Moderates, decides to start her political party.

The Right Shade of Brown (S3, E3) | January 13, 2013

The New Democrats participate in a TV discussion on the integration of ethnic marginalized people; Birgitte and the children move into a cheaper apartment.

One Man’s Meat (S3, E4) | January 23, 2013

The quality of Danish bacon is called into question when Birgitte’s English boyfriend falls ill after eating pork.

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery (S3, E5) | February 3, 2013

The New Democrats assert themselves by condemning prostitution; Torben’s problems escalate when his boss finds out about his affair.

Sons of the Past (S3, E6) | February 10, 2013

A former Communist Party member runs for the New Democrats; Birgitte tries to conceal the bad news she received from her doctor.

The Fall (S3, E7) | February 17, 2013

Prime Minister Lars Hesselboe calls a surprise general election; Birgitte struggles to keep her illness a secret as she undergoes daily radiation treatment.

When the Facts Change (S3, E8) | February 24, 2013

As election day nears, Birgitte comes clean to her party; when Jacob Kruse steals a key policy, a mole is suspected.

Sense and Sensibility (S3, E9) | March 3, 2013

With the general election nearing, the mudslinging begins; Birgitte seeks to both keep her integrity and win votes.

The Election (S3, E10) | March 10, 2013

When the day of the election arrives, politics are not the only thing on Birgitte’s mind.


Awards won by The Borgen (S1, S2, & S3) Series

Names of the AwardsWinners of the Awards
Prix Italia – 2010Winner Prix Italia – TV Drama – Series and Serials
Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels 2011Best TV Series/Serials
TV Series and Serials – Best Music
Monte-Carlo TV Festival – 2011Sidse Babett Knudsen – Winner Golden Nymph – Outstanding Actress – Drama Series
BAFTA Awards – 2012Winner BAFTA TV Award – Best International
Monte Carlo TV Festival – 2013Sidse Babett Knudsen – Winner Golden Nymph – Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Best European Drama TV Series & Best International Drama TV Series – Winner
British Academy Television Awards (2012 and 2014)International Prize
Peabody Awards – 2014Winner Peabody Award
Danish Film Awards (Robert) – 2014Christian Tafdrup – Winner Robert – Best Supporting Actor – TV Series (Årets mandlige birolle – tv-serie)
Best Danish TV Series (Årets danske tv-serie) – Winner Robert
Awards – Borgen (S1, S2, & S3) Show

Also, check out the FM articles on a bunch of Nordic Noir:-

The Killing: A Must-Watch Nordic Noir From Danes

The Bridge: Superb Nordic Noir From Danes/Swedes

Trapped: Cold-Blooded Nordic-Noir From Iceland

Featured & Other Images: Borgen | Youtube & IMDB.


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