*Borgen*, season one

by on May 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm in Political Science, Television, Uncategorized | Permalink

He is a market-oriented professor of economics who talks about Milton Friedman to his young Danish students.  She is — suddenly — Prime Minister of Denmark and leader of a moderate left party, but not actually prepared to wield power.  The regime is proportional representation and maintenance of the fragile coalition is all-important.  Her younger child wets his pants while watching TV and they schedule Tuesdays and Saturdays for sex, in vain.  Some media outlets maximize profit, whereas others pursue personal and political agendas.  People who have slept together in the past cannot escape each other’s presence in the elite circles of Copenhagen.  The median voter occasionally surfaces too.

If you are looking for a new “intelligent TV show” to watch, this is my nomination.  I don’t like this as much as my all-time favorite shows, but if you are only going to watch twenty good TV shows in your lifetime, this should be one of them.  You don’t have to care about politics, much less Danish politics, but if you do that will make it all the more intriguing.

You can buy Season one here, and season two is coming out soon.

TJIC May 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm

It wasn’t until I got to the buying links that I realized that this wasn’t some extreme hypothetical but an actual show. WOW.

Ali Choudhury May 28, 2013 at 2:32 pm

It was allright but The Killing had a lot more oomph to it.

Lars Christensen May 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Tyler, I never understood the international success of Danish tv and movies. Anyway happy that you like Borgen. I actually never watched it so I didn’t realize that there was an economics professors in there who is teaching Milton Friedman.

Carsten Valgreen May 28, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I thought he was modelled over you :-)…. lol

I couldnt not bear it either and it is beyond me what Tyler see in this PC monstrosity

Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard May 28, 2013 at 3:02 pm

So Tyler, you now have three Danish classical liberals speaking as one … ;-)

Lars Christensen May 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Carsten…I didn’t realize that before I saw Tyler’s description. I must admit that there is a scary similarity. By the way last time I was teaching Milton Friedman at a Danish university we were working together for a female minister of economics from exactly that political party that the Prime Minister in Borgen seems to belong to…scary.

Billeder af Verden May 28, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I think you guys might be missing the value a show like Borgen could provide someone who wasn’t brought up in the Danish political culture/tradition. All the things mentioned is this blog post are fairly unremarkable to observant Danes, but insightful to uninitiated outsiders. The idea of a party like Radikal Venstre comes natural to people here, but to people brought up in another political system it will be a quixotic notion. Similarly the show’s moralising and somewhat broad strokes are pushing some of your buttons, but will be less noticeable to someone who doesn’t live it the same way.

That said I’ve watched embarasingly little of this or any of the other famous Danish TV shows because there’s always football on at the same time.

Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard May 28, 2013 at 2:42 pm

@Tyler: “Borgen” sucks in virtually every respect. Many of the leading actors are incapable of delivering the silly, silly lines they are fed. It is unbelievably and unbearably politically correct. And its portrayal of the workings of the Danish political system makes “West Wing” look like a documentary.

Heck, the could not even get the math of the seats allocations in parliament in the series finale to make sense:

http://kurrild-klitgaard.blogspot.dk/2013/03/stemmer-stemmerne-i-borgen.html

Nigel May 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm

That’s quite a lot of effort to expend on a show which sucks in virtually every respect.

Are there any Danish tv shows you (or any other discriminating Danes) would recommend ?

Tak skal du have.

Peter Kurrild-Klitgaard May 30, 2013 at 4:29 am

Nope. Most Danish TV-series are highly overrated.

Nigel May 30, 2013 at 9:07 am
CosetTheTabl May 28, 2013 at 2:44 pm

“I don’t like this as much as my all-time favorite shows, but if you are only going to watch twenty good TV shows in your lifetime, this should be one of them. ”

So what are some of the shows that rank higher than this one on your list? (I’m not expecting any sort of fine tuned order, just an idea of what other TV I might prioritize before this) (I googled a bit to see if I could find a previous entry, but I was rather unsuccessful).

Go Kings, Go! May 28, 2013 at 3:55 pm

So what are some of the shows that rank higher than this one on your list?

Fiction across all mediums is dull narrative meting and doling reward and punishment by formula (or by formulaic anti-formula) to a familiar litany of heroes, villains and innocents. Tired and predictable as my dog’s long journey to a morning poop when compared to 2012′s Best T.V. Show, which debuted on April 11, 2012.

On that day, my eponymous L.A. Kings had just squeaked into the playoffs as the worst NHL team to make the tournament. They’re a backwater, winners of only 4 playoff games in 10 years, and nothing seemed promising– no hope riding in from the Injured List, no surging momentum from a inspirational event, no legendary coach with a meaningful speech, no compelling players– a semi-dirty captain, taciturn batholith of a Slovenian center, 2 hard-partying cast-offs– and led by a grumpy head coach and secretive evangelical owner. And then, magic: dominant rampage through the anointed team, the media favorite team, the newly popular “will no one stop these Kings?” team, and then the main act against Original Six nobility. The Kings, a screeching band of Tolistobogii pillaging Delphi, turned the world upside down.

Season 2 is underway, with Game 7 tonight against the agitated Sharks.

Go Kings, Go! May 28, 2013 at 4:05 pm

BTW, a charming tribal custom to be wary off. A visiting fan walking through the Staples arcade might hear a single voice ritually calling, “Hey, Sharks Fan”. in the next moment the supposedly disinterested, milling tribal mates shout the war cry in unison: “YOU SUCK!”. It’s loud, man, a stunning sonic assault, and I’ve seen a grown man sob at the indignity.

You guys should try something like that at your next conference.

Gary May 28, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Ummm, you do realize that the final was not against an Original Six team right?

The Devils are far from an Original Six team.

GiT May 28, 2013 at 7:48 pm
Chris S May 28, 2013 at 11:30 pm

As a committed fan of an Original Six team, about to watch a game 7 against another Original Six team, I say to GiT:

+1

Owen May 29, 2013 at 6:57 am
Go Kings, Go! May 29, 2013 at 10:37 am

Did I say that? Yes, I did. Oh well, little worked up.

Vanya May 29, 2013 at 2:53 am

You realize that hockey in Los Angeles makes absolutely no sense, right? Any town south of Philadelphia should not have a professional hockey team.

Go Bruins.

Go Kings, Go! May 29, 2013 at 11:59 am

I don’t realize that, you can plant those stadiums anywhere. Playing baseball in the northwest during April, Football in December, or just living there is what makes little sense to me. But I’ve been shown the fool here, so…

Steven May 29, 2013 at 1:19 pm

He mentioned a few shows in the comments not long ago

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2013/05/the-americans.html

A danish viewer May 28, 2013 at 2:45 pm

In Denmark a lot of people – who do not consider themself left-leaning – consider “Borgen” to be some sort of comedy.
I migth work as some kind of political drama, but the political correctness is just so pathetic and so-last-year.

And if you for some reason happens to be interested in Danish politics, this show sure will disappoint you.

It is beyond me how anybody can call this “intelligent”.

László May 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Or just watch this space: http://www.linktv.org/borgen

Andrew' May 28, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Scheduling Tuesdays?!?!

Rob May 28, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Which are the other 19 good TV shows?

Widmerpool May 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm

What was the Danish reception for The Bridge? Saw the first episode last night and enjoyed it.

I thought the political stuff in The Killing awfully tedious, distracting and uninteresting, and so I must say Tyler’s description is a distinct turn-off for me.

Slocum May 28, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I watched about 10 minutes of the 1st episode via linktv, and it looked pretty promising. It didn’t seem especially PC (but maybe I’ve become so inured to PC in Hollywood dramas that I don’t even notice half of it anymore). And if I get that far, I’m not sure I’ll be able to work up the proper level of disgust over the script failing to nail down the correct mathematical details of Danish parliamentary coalition building.

bob May 28, 2013 at 3:56 pm

I tried this based on Tyler’s recommendation and I devoured it. Its obviously left leaning and I have no idea how realistic it is, I assume not very, but I know absolutely nothing about Denmark or its politics so to me it was just an entertaining drama.

Millian May 28, 2013 at 4:20 pm

I don’t know how left-leaning the show is. Of course the heroine is of the very centrist left and so her opponents are on the right, but they don’t seem to portray her as being particularly successful in implementing her policies or achieving social outcomes.

CJ May 28, 2013 at 4:20 pm

LinkTV runs the first two seasons of Borgen from time to time and then keeps streaming versions up on the web for free for two weeks after it airs (for those accessing it from the US): http://www.linktv.org/borgen

Bjartur May 28, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Resistance to the Borgen recommendation is futile; I will watch.

Peter May 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Wikipedia: “Meanwhile, Phillip [Birgitte's husband], unhappy with his own position, finally loses faith in his marriage with Nyborg when he is forced to resign as the CEO of a major electronics company to avoid a conflict of interest”

Tyler: “He is a market-oriented professor of economics who talks about Milton Friedman”

??????????

Millian May 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm

It’s called plot development. Characters change. This is not Jersey Shore.

stubbs May 28, 2013 at 7:11 pm

There was an article on Danish tv in the New Yorker about two months ago. Two things I recall: they sent people to study the Hollywood-show runner method and the writer is king in their series.

Mike H May 28, 2013 at 11:32 pm

“If you are looking for a new “intelligent TV show” to watch, this is my nomination.”

Really? No offense but anyone who finds it intellectually stimulating or entertaining to watch a show about the privileged (and boring) private life/political career of some left-wing European politician should really take a trip to China, Iran or Russia and observe the kind of epic struggle their political dissidents put up with their governments.

If I am going to make a really intelligent TV show on politics I would have took inspiration from any of the following individuals over some pot-smoking, tree hugging, brain-dead European bureaucratic elites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chen_Guangcheng
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexey_Navalny
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akbar_Ganji
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manal_al-Sharif

dan1111 May 30, 2013 at 4:37 am

I agree that we should care more about political dissidents in autocratic countries–but does that translate into a moral imperative for what topics we must enjoy watching for entertainment?

Lots of great literature is about the extremely privileged engaging in trivialities.

josh June 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm
Chris S May 28, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Can no one make a decent Hamlet remark? All the ones occurring to me now are much too trite.

Jacob A. Geller May 29, 2013 at 2:00 am

“He is a market-oriented professor of economics who talks about Milton Friedman to his young Danish students. She is — suddenly — Prime Minister of Denmark and leader of a moderate left party, but not actually prepared to wield power. The regime is proportional representation and maintenance of the fragile coalition is all-important. Her younger child wets his pants while watching TV and they schedule Tuesdays and Saturdays for sex, in vain. Some media outlets maximize profit, whereas others pursue personal and political agendas. People who have slept together in the past cannot escape each other’s presence in the elite circles of Copenhagen. The median voter occasionally surfaces too.”

…find the equilibrium.

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