We have Annalena Baerbock as Federal Foreign Minister, but is she as suitable for this position as Birgitte Nyborg? Marietta Slomka torments politicians in her interviews in the “heute-journal”, but is she stubborn like Katrine Fønsmark?
Baerbock and Slomka are real, Nyborg and Fønsmark protagonists of the series “Borgen”. But because the production is so radically borrowed from reality, such comparisons come to mind. “Borgen” is streaming gold, there were already three seasons from 2010 to 2013, now Netflix is showing the fourth.
The streaming service has teamed up with the Danish broadcaster DR1, which has shown with the “Dangerous Ropes” at what level series television and politics can come together. “Borrowing” may, if “House of Cards” is the Macbeth variant of the theme, count as a quasi-reality check. Look, this is how politics works, a lesson about people and mechanisms, about rules and fouls, about conflicts and decision-making processes. Big but: what sounds like a boring committee of inquiry is very entertaining because it is very exciting, very seductive because it is very human.
“Borrowing IV” in other words. Original title “Riget, Magten og Ære”. “The empire, the power and the honor”, all in, right? Birgitte Nyborg Christensen (Sidse Babett Knudsen) now works as Danish foreign minister for the New Democrats party in the coalition government of Prime Minister Signe Kragh (Johanne Louise Schmidt). Nyborg focuses on climate policy, a focus that voters resonate with.
The challenge comes with a very large oil discovery in Greenland (the topic is also dealt with intensively in the series “Thin Ice”/ARD media library). And the problems are already piling up. Exploration in a very sensitive ecosystem? The Greenlanders are very enthusiastic about the prospect of billions in oil, the time finally seems to have come to push for independence from Denmark. They feel treated like children by “big brother” in Copenhagen.
Climate policy, the fight for Greenland, which is synonymous with the struggle for supremacy in the Arctic, Danish politics very quickly gets the feel of how small the great powers USA, Russia and China regard little Denmark, foreign policy becomes domestic policy, as always with “Borgen” focuses on all four branches of Danish democracy, three of which – the legislative, judiciary and executive – reside in one and the same building: the Christiansborg in Copenhagen. The fourth estate, the media, is always and everywhere involved. TV1’s news chief, Katrine Fønsmark, was once press chief for former Prime Minister Nyborg.
And because politics is always private in this series, and vice versa, Nyborg’s son Magnus (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen) is a climate activist and militant animal rights activist who has freed pigs from a transporter. The police are investigating and the press hears about it. Humanity is also evident in other dimensions: Nyborg is now 53, suffers from heat waves, news boss Fønsmark clashes with a moderator, this narrowness in the journalistic-political bubble amalgamates the genuinely political with diversity, gender and age issues and activism in many directions . What is complex enough, what requires concentration, but does not trigger excessive demands.
Creator, head writer and producer Adam Price has his protagonists and the influence and outflow personnel lying around in concentric circles play out the central perspective over and over again: who exercises control, which character must understand and come to terms with the fact that these impulses of power are corrupting them, attacking their humanity and undermine their sense of integrity? “The empire, the power and the honor”, this title is the program, content and dramaturgy for eight episodes that tell about life and yet are far from the kitsch of life.
A series of women for women and men. The focus is on the politician Nyborg, a character with whom her actress Sidse Babett Knudsen seems to have grown together. Her Birgitte Nyborg is self-confident, ambitious, sophisticated and yet “darker” than in previous seasons. Not just a central figure, but a character, absorbed by politics, absorbed in politics with all the effects and side effects: divorced, the son sometimes turned towards, sometimes away, hardly any friends. “Borgen IV” is anything but a glorification of this “business” and its actors.
It’s obvious that the entire cast wants to make the fourth season a success. The protagonists all have their functions in this chess game, their possibilities of movement, their individualities, which also makes them interesting and attractive.
Some influential figures such as Nyborg’s shrewd advisor Kasper Juul (Pilou Asbæk) are missing in the sequel, but they don’t have to be missed great lesson in political, media, female rhetoric (also in intrigues). And just a duel between the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, Signe Kragh is younger, more career-oriented, more pragmatic and can use social media exquisitely. The quarrel between the two is increasing – is Nyborg going “breaking bad”?
The team of authors, led by Adam Price, always ensures an overview of the lively back and forth, don’t worry, the changing directors, who bring the “Borgen” sound to life again, act the same way. Which is why the human aspect is not neglected, next to Nyborg personified by Denmark’s “arctic ambassador” for Greenland, Asger Holm Kirkegaard. Mikkel Boe Følsgaard plays him with seriousness and scruples, love, this heavenly power, provokes an affair with a married woman.
“Borgen IV” picks up the pressure of its few locations from the previous seasons. This requires very precise, finely calculated action. It’s bang, every actress, every actor knows what to do and what not to do. A solid Christiansborg is our television.