After almost ten years of absence, the excellent Danish series Borgen is making a comeback on Netflix. At its head, Sidse Babett Knudsen returns to service in the role of Birgitte Nyborg.
We discovered it in France in 2012 on Arte. Borgen, a woman in power immediately established herself as a European White House. By examining the workings of a European democracy, and by propelling a female Prime Minister, Adam Price’s series has made politics exciting.
Almost ten years later, the series returns to Netflix as Borgen: Power and Glory. Birgitte Nyborg (Sidse Babett Knudsen), who became Denmark’s first female prime minister in season 1, is now foreign minister. She finds herself grappling with the potentially explosive political fallout from the discovery of oil in Greenland, a Danish territory.
In the real
Arguing angrily that Denmark cannot do business with a drilling company whose investors include a Russian oligarch, she cites the fact that “Russia is internationally sanctioned for attacking Ukraine“. The scene seems to have been filmed only a few weeks ago, but Adam Price is actually referring to the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
This growing narrative arc serves as the author’s prescience as to the political news of the moment. That’s part of what made Borgen the best political series of the 2010s. And still does.
Borgen stands out from other series of the genre by creating a perfect balance. Birgitte is an idealist, but also a realistic and uncompromising politician. The series’ plots deftly weave together personal dilemmas and political deceit, while injecting themes touching on feminism and the media. At its center, we find Birgitte – a human woman, with whom we can identify, but a real political genius – and the theme of power (and its perversions).
The world today
Today, after almost 10 years of absence, Birgitte is Minister of Foreign Affairs, she is once again dealing with a Prime Minister from an opposing party, a woman a decade younger than her. This Prime Minister is very present on social networks, posts photos on Instagram with the hashtag #TheFutureIsFemale, and sets up a public relations scheme to entice Birgitte into a fake illusion of sisterhood.
Behind the scenes, the two women are fierce rivals, constantly at odds, trying to use each other for personal gain. And when oil is discovered in Greenland, Birgitte faces an ethical dilemma. She campaigned on a green agenda and opposes fossil fuel drilling. But the exploitation of the site would bring in more than 185 billion euros, a large part of which would go to Denmark. And the Prime Minister is in favor of it for economic reasons.
As for journalist Katrine Fonsmark (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), she is also back and is now in charge of information at TV1, the country’s former first channel. Once again, Adam Price probes with intelligence and pragmatism the theme of women and power.
Building on the zeitgeist, this season focuses on climate change and international relations. In real life, Greenland’s ice is melting even faster than scientists predicted. And the Arctic is geopolitically crucial, with the United States, Russia and China all trying to assert their influence there. Birgitte then finds herself in the middle of a ring where the great powers are jostling for their share of the cake.
The series then seems more current than ever, directly grappling with the political and ecological urgency of the moment.
Borgen: Power and Glory, a series created by Adam Price and Emilie Lebech Kaae with Sidse Babett Knudsen, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen… Available on Netflix (episodes viewed: 2 out of 8)