Borgen: Series 1 – Final Review

Borgen, the latest Danish import to captivate the British public, finished its first series on BBC4 over the weekend. Many viewers are now more aware of the ins and outs of Birgitte Nyborg’s fictional Danish administration than their own goverment.

But how was the series? After our pleasant review of the early episodes, did it stay good?


I loved it. A convincing early contender for best new show of the year, multi-layered, intelligent, well acted and beautifully shot. I might say a few negative things, but they’re nitpicks at best.

There are two obvious points of comparison for Borgen: firstly, The Killing (aka Forbrydelsen), the show that kickstarted our love for Danish TV. Although the production values are equally high and a lot of cast are pulling double-duty, if you found The Killing too slow, Borgen provides episodic rewards in the way we UK/US viewers expect. Curse our tiny attention spans.

And secondly, the other well-known show about liberals taking power and struggling with it: The West Wing. Borgen has less sparky dialogue, but balances its plotlines with similar skill, making the topic accessible and providing characters to draw us in. It’s also more downbeat, though. The toll taken on the lead character is pushed hard. At the end of episode nine, I felt as if my emotions had been squeezed out of me with a giant fist.


So, it’s not a complaint, but if I had to make one request: happiness in series 2? For someone? I’d rather not start seeing it as a weekly appointment with beautifully produced misery.

Oh, and BBC – why are we shoving the Danish shows out in double-bills? Yes, maybe everyone will inevitably watch on iPlayer, but I personally would’ve enjoyed having more time to digest each one.

But Borgen remains a great series, if you think you can watch a subtitled show, try this one. The Killing is a loftier work, but this might be more watchable. Perhaps due to my West Wing love, I may even have enjoyed it more. Catch the whole first series on iPlayer for another week, or even better, install the iPlayer download client, click the download button on all ten episodes of Borgen and savour them over a month.

More information on the BBC's official Borgen site.

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