Borgen, season four (only spoilers are at the meta-level)

My Bloody Valentine did a follow-up album twenty years later and it was pretty good, unexpectedly good.  Well, this reboot of Borgen, seven years later, is mostly better than the original, even if some of the original characters (Kasper) are missed.  It is now titled Borgen: Power and Glory, and can be found on Netflix.

Some people disliked the original Borgen for its possibly naive portrait of social democracy in Denmark, but season four stands all that on its head.  It represents a radical departure from political and also media discourse these days.

By far the main theme of season four is how it affects women when they hold major positions of power, in both the public and private sector.  How do their characters evolve?  How do they handle power?  What are their family relations like?  How happy do they become?  I won’t say any more here, only that I can’t imagine today’s Hollywood putting out this content.  Nor can I think of any other art work that explores this theme so consistently.  Critics might call the series misogynistic.  They might be right.

Some other themes are relevance are:

1. The nature of Danish imperialism, and how Denmark is incapable of treating Greenland as an equal partner.

2. How left parties manipulate indigenous causes for their own ends.

3. The corruption and pettiness of indigenous societies, such as are found in Greenland.

4. How the media really operate.

5. The hypocrisy of “green” politics.

In other words, what you get is “right-wing Borgen,” and with a vengeance.  Yet the proceedings are all cloaked in the same kind of superficial Danish triumphalism that characterized seasons 1-3.  I wish the content had more of “my kind of liberalism,” but maybe the right-wing cultural critique makes for better TV.  (I keep on thinking that something ought to be privatized…with apologies to David Brooks.  But it should!  You can give the government half the revenue.  And no, Russian and Chinese state-affiliated buyers do not count.  And while we are at it, how about “one billion Greenlanders“?  I’d settle for a million.)

It is no surprise that the reviews of this season are largely mediocre.  Yet for me it is the best Borgen yet, recognizing that it will not be everyone’s cup of tea.  But if any show has the street cred to deliver these messages, it is Borgen.  The show also tells us once again that Denmark is not quite the left-wing country you might think, because none of the reactionary content put on the screen comes across as unnaturally Danish.

Do you need to have seen seasons one thru three for season four to make sense?  It seems to me yes, but who knows maybe you can just start this one from scratch?



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