Borgen was a Danish TV series about the first female Prime Minister: It aired 2010 to 2013 and was broadcast globally.[i] The actual election of Denmark’s first Prime Minister occurred during Borgen’s second season. The show also features a female political journalist, another strong female character in a Scandinavian society that values equality. In her small apartment, she has a poster of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman as reporters in All the President’s Men (1976). Despite the ideals of shared roles, the show explores a demanding job’s drain on family life with young children, the strain on the Prime Minister’s marriage as her husband does most of the family work reversing traditional roles, and the necessity of compromise with her political principles. Her husband divorces her and her teenage daughter falls apart in an anxiety attack, feeling ignored by her mother. Unlike Veep, the lightweight and silly US show about a woman vice-president, Borgen seriously explores current issues including how to fund the welfare state that the PM says is central to Denmark’s self-image, the war in Afghanistan, and the environment. It’s also striking that the PM does her own cooking, does her own repairs, and answers her door at home with no guards, with a very small entourage. She does have a driver, who she seduces one night drowning her sorrow over her divorce, so she’s human, as well as being a decisive skilled politician.
Other US series about women in high-level government positions include: In Political Animals Sigourney Weaver plays a Secretary of State as does Tea Leoni in Madam Secretary; In Veep Julia Louise-Dreyfus plays a vice-president: Women presidents are portrayed in Commander in Chief with Geena Davis and Cherry Jones in 24.
[i] “Nandini Rathi, The Layered Danish Pastry Called ‘Borgen’,” Bitch Flicks, July 25, 2014.
The matriarchal President Coin, on the other hand, represents revolution with a strict focus on democracy and a socialist emphasis on the sharing of resources. District 13 is a militaristic, utilitarian underground compound that eschews fashion in favor of function (as evinced by the monotone uniforms all residents wear).
Patriarchal tyranny of President Snow