Borgen: A soap opera about a politician’s family

I’ve enjoyed aspects of Borgen, but by the end of season two I’d had enough. This is not a show about politics; it is a show about a politician’s family. The last shreds of doubt on my part vanished when I was subjected to a scene in which the Prime Minister’s ex’s partner has an emotional outburst about not feeling included in the treatment of the Prime Minister’s daughter. Now that I think about it, I realise that I know as much about the ex’s partner as I do about most of the politicians besides the Prime Minister.

Even in terms of the politics, the problem for me was that the show never really had a narrative arc, and because of that ended up wandering a little aimlessly. From episode to episode there are political events that happen; but these are dealt with in an episode or two. There is no overall struggle that the Danish Prime Minister faces, apart from – perhaps? – clinging to power, but even that doesn’t present as a continuous, unified struggle.

Because there is no greater struggle, I think it’s possible the writers had to fall back on areas they felt more comfortable in. Hence the continual recurrence of the PM’s frustration at her ex leaving her. Which, ultimately goes nowhere and doesn’t tell us very much about her.

Borgen had a lot of promise, and there were parts I quite enjoyed. And I don’t mean to say that families aren’t important – quite the contrary, families are important, and interesting. But in a TV show that’s purportedly at least partially about politics, it felt as though the weighting was skewed far too heavily towards the domestic.


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