Borgen is a gripping TV drama series where 40 year-old politician Birgitte Nyborg becomes Denmark’s first female Prime Minister. The production is packed full of political intrigues and deals but it’s the effect that her new powerful position has on her home life and her relationship, that grabs my undivided attention.
I bought the box set of the first season and watched an episode every night. In the early scenes, I was delighted to watch a happy and playful Birgitte and her husband Philip, parents to their two children- and all of them apparently comfortable with Birgitte’s surprise ascension to power. But although I enjoyed the friendly domesticity, I had to wonder how long it would last.
Philip is a lecturer and each night after work he tackles the domestic chores, tends to the needs of his children and the challenges of their school activities and home work. Philip jokes about having sex with the new Prime Minister but this rarely happens as Nyborg is forever late home or called in to settle some political deal or other. Through each densely drama-packed episode I remained cautiously optimistic that Philip would prove to be mature; a man who could bask in the success of his wife, and not become sullen and needy and childishly seek attention elsewhere. However, well before the end of the first season, it was clear that my optimism had little basis and the foundations of the happy home were fast crumbling away,
After too many long evening hours alone with his children, and his son who was now bed wetting and clearly missing his mother, it was clear that the idyllic relationship was not going to last. By the end of season one, Philip was heavily engrossed in an affair and the divorce papers were waiting for the unhappy Prime Minister to sign.
However, I did not find this separation and impending divorce convincing. Would a couple who were seen as so delightfully together in the earlier episodes really have been driven to divorce? Why couldn’t they get someone to help with the domestic chores if that was the problem. But then it wasn’t just the domestic workload that was the issue. Philip couldn’t cope with his wife’s success and like most men he really needed a wife to mother him as well as his children.
As I watched the disintegration of their relationship I had to wonder how a man could leave such an attractive, clever and highly successful woman with whom he had two much-loved children, for a younger woman. But then the new model will no doubt make a fuss of him; she’ll laugh at his jokes, she’ll boost his flailing ego and she’ll mother him. This is what the morose, and formerly capable and dependable Philip needs and sadly what most men expect and demand. But I am still surprised and rather disappointed for I was hoping for a better outcome. As the second series plays, poor Birgitte, beautiful and powerful though she may be, is desperately unhappy as Philip and his new love and the children spend quality time together.
I continue to be gripped by season two, now shown on SBS on Wednesdays at 9.30 pm. I’m sure there will be better times for Birgitte, but I would have liked to have seen her partner able to support her in her new life. But let’s face it – few men are up to this task.
And of course his desertion for another woman meant for more drama on which such a program depends.