The Department of Media and Communication Design at Northumbria University presents the following research seminar by Professor Tobias Hochscherf on 27 November at 5pm (Squires Building, Room 020A).
Juggling Career and Parenthood: Borgen (Denmark 2010—) and the Family in Contemporary Danish Television Drama.
Tobias Hochscherf is Professor of Audiovisual Media at the University of Applied Sciences Kiel in Germany. He is the author of The Continental Connection: German-speaking Émigrés and British Cinema, 1927-45 (2011) and co-editor of Divided, But Not Disconnected: German Experiences of the Cold War (2010) and British Science Fiction Film and Television: Critical Essays (2011).
The event marks the launch of the latest issue of the new Journal of Popular Television, which is edited by James Leggott (Northumbria University) and has a dossier section on the theme of contemporary Danish television, edited by Tobias Hochscherf. There is information on the journal at http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-Journal,id=216/
The event is free, but places are limited. If you would like to attend, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. See below for a detailed abstract.
Juggling Career and Parenthood: Borgen (Denmark 2010—) and the Family in Danish Television Drama.
The number of Scandinavian television series that have been captivating audiences in continental Europe, Britain, the US and elsewhere is significant. More often than not this success is associated with slick crime dramas produced by the public service broadcaster Danmarks Radio (DR) including The Killing (Forbrydelsen, DR 2007- ) or Unit 1 (Rejseholdet, 2000-2004). However, the triumph of quality television from Denmark is not limited to programmes revolving around sinister serious crimes. The political drama series Borgen, in particular, seems to suggest that the penchant for Danish television well exceeds the realm of what has been termed ‘Nordic Noir’.
Surprised by their own success, the cultural director of DR told the British Observer: ‘We thought Borgen was maybe too Danish to travel. We are amazed and happy it is possible’ (14 January 2012). One reason that helps to explain as to why a series on Danish politics was palatable abroad, as I argue, is the way in which it combines narratives on political events and the media with the private lives of its protagonists. Indeed, whilst Borgen was rightly compared to Aaron Sorkin’s acclaimed The West Wing (NBC 1999-2006), which adapted themes around the American Presidency to primetime television, the Danish series offers a very different look at politics. Not only does it tell the story of how a woman is elected Minister President of Denmark (and thereby predates the election of Helle Thorning-Schmidt as the first woman in this post), it also shows how her husband compromises on his own career for hers and how she tries to combine a high-profile career with being a mother. Rather than a mere subplot, family matters and raising children form a central part of the complex narrative and ultimately the appeal of Borgen. In fact, what seems interesting about Borgen in comparison with other political drama series is the way in which real time politics and Danish cultural and family values are picked up as a way of product differentiation. Against this background, the paper takes a closer look at the way in which childhood, parenting and family life are represented in the series as an example of how Danish public service television (still) manages to raise fundamental questions dealing with modern motherhood, life-and-work-balance and the generation gap.