There’s a show that you should have seen. Quite the hit abroad, and to a much more limited extent here a year or so back, Borgen deserves a review time does not now permit. But that should not stop me from at least sending a shout out. A show about super sharp, ambitious, powerful, complex women, it was the “West Wing” of Danish politics. Smart, moral, hyper-liberal — it is a show of how those sharing that left viewpoint see themselves.
Prime Minister: Great work, but I want the speech to be more ambitious.
Kasper Juul: Fine. What do you want? Why should I vote for you? Have you got any agenda apart from clinging to power?
PM: We’ve made a hell of a lot of changes this past year.
Kasper: What do you want?
PM: I want to tell the Danes they’re better than they think. They’ve forgotten that — in their quest for a new car and a cool kitchen — a great family, a mistress and a yacht. We’ve been busy pursuing our own happiness. And we feel unfairly treated if we don’t get it. But we can’t have it all.
Kasper: Don’t make it a slap on the wrist. We want people to come together.
PM: Danes are all for solidarity. They’re always ready to make sacrifices. But we lost sight of it. Now we just sing about it at funerals. “Fight and live for all that you love.”
Ironically, for the first two of the show’s three seasons, the answer to the essential question of any television series, “whose show is it?” was Kasper, the male “spin doctor.” His enigmatic complexity, the slow unwrapping of its cause, and the wonderful, strained infuriating relationship he had with a television news anchor underpinned the moral, societal ambitions of the show, keeping us glued and waiting anxiously for more. Kasper is so cool, he makes smoking appealing (which his character does). When the creators unfavorably resolved and jettisoned that relationship, and Kasper, for the third season, the show fizzled and then soonafter disappeared altogether. But for two seasons, it was one heck of a ride.
But forget all of that, for now. Here are the marvelous women of Borgen: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen and Freja Riemann. Go check them out.
As for that speech referenced in the quote above, here that is:
“What ties a nation together? As a young student, I was there in the town square on June 26th, 1992. Denmark had just won the European Football Championship. That night I knew we were one people. One people who almost knew the national anthem by heart. We were amazed. The past 140 years had taught us we were a nation … of kind-hearted losers who were almost always beaten by the Germans. But suddenly we had beaten them.
“We’ve gotten used to the fact that we could have it all. Now that we aren’t as rich any more, we feel lost… and we worry about things that would never have mattered before.
“Each of us in Parliament… represents 30,000 Danes. They have invested all their hopes of a better future in us. More than anything else… we need to act responsibly way beyond party differences, short-sighted bloc politics, and smear campaigns. I believe we as humans need each other. I believe we belong together as a nation. I believe we are united by more than what separates us. I believe deep down we’re the same people… who all rejoiced that night in June in the town square.
“For those who have forgotten the lyrics… the anthem ends “Our ancient Denmark shall endure.” Let’s see to that… together. Thank you.