Way back in 1952, American actor Danny Kaye starred as famed Danish storyteller Hans Christian Andersen. This Hollywood production of a film was entitled Hans Christian Andersen. In the course of the film, Kaye sang a memorable song about the Danish capital, Copenhagen. Please have a quick peek at the lyrics -
On this merry night
Let us clink and drink one down
To wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen
Salty old queen of the sea
Once I sailed away
But I’m home today
Singing Copenhagen, wonderful, wonderful
Copenhagen for me
That was 62 years ago. Even further back, in fact, sometime between 1599 and 1602 William Shakespeare penned Hamlet. In “Hamlet.” Act I, Scene 4: Marcellus (an officer) says “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” having just seen the ghost of Hamlet’s father, the late king of Denmark.The phrase means “things are unsatisfactory; there is something wrong.” Now let’s move forward to the present where something is still rotten in Denmark.
From the high-wire act called statesmanship or diplomacy on the national and international stages, to the day-to-day management of the country where scandals, swindles, and dirty tricks are almost the norms rather than the exceptions, to the both feet on the ground, daily activities of what is called domestic relationships or married life – the life of a head of state involves hundreds of decisions, both big and small, every day.
There are back-room deals with the heads of political parties for funding, staffing, and even Cabinet seats. The Prime Minister must offer public handshakes and accord for the record with those who are privately detested, and she must be wary of backstabbing, and more, and that’s just for starters. While there can be and often is mutual back-scratching, the Prime Minister cannot have friends in the Christiansborg Palace (the seat of the Danish government – the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches are all in the one building), while in office. Because sometimes, heads must roll.
That’s politics, irrespective of country. For this show, and to get you located, the series is set in a number of places like The Prime Minster’s office, television studios, and in personal homes – Denmark simply does not have a White House. Then think of everything you loved about NBC’s The West Wing, HBO’s The Newsroom, and, Netflix’s House of Cards. Speaking of House of Cards, didn’t Frank Underwood once say – The price of power is loneliness.
Okay, now check out the trailer to have a look at what I am talking about.
I am talking about the critically acclaimed award-winning Danish TV series called Borgen. Borgen ran for three full seasons from 2010 into 2013. The show conquered everything that it came up against, not only in Denmark, where the series is based, but it was also wildly successful when it was broadcast on the BBC in the UK. It is a series about Denmark’s first female head-of-state Birgitte Nyborg . Sidse Babett Knudsen (below) stars as Nyborg and is simply fantastic as a woman who tries to juggle running a country and maintaining her family ( a husband and two children) simultaneously.
As the 1st episode of Season One begins we learn a bit about the Danish political system. In the Danish parliamentary system, eight political parties align in various, and sometimes unexpected ways to form coalition governments. In the first episode, through various political missteps, the largest liberal and conservative parties rough each other up, giving Birgitte Nyborg’s Moderates a huge boost and herself the unexpected opportunity to head up a liberal coalition as prime minister. Basically with the liberals and the conservative Labor parties each shooting themselves in the foot, or simply imploding, Nyborg is voted into power. However, as a part of forming a Cabinet, the unseen Queen must appoint The Prime Minster as The Royal Investigator. This means she gets to pick her Cabinet officers – and won’t that be fun.
As I said she’s also a happily married woman with two kids. To make the show not only believable but also make the characters realistic, we watch the head of state at home dealing with the issues there. But she, Birgitte Nyborg is only the lead character. The rest of the cast, will likely be mostly unknown to you but they’re superb. So let’s have a look at the main players: