Show me a woman who doesn’t sort of wish she was Katrine Fønsmark, and you’ll be showing me a liar. Anna Hart on the breakout star of BBC4’s Borgen
Thanks to Borgen, I can now talk really intelligently about fictional Danish politics, a skill I’m not sure will really come in handy that often. The production team that gave us The Killing upped their game with this triple-season tense political thriller, again centered around a strong female principal, Birgitte Nyborg, who we meet in season one as a gutsy politician, good-enough mother and one half of a grown-up, convincing and sexy onscreen marriage. But Birgitte has had to share the limelight with the equally uncompromising, ambitious, flawed but ultimately likeable journalist Katrine Fønsmark, who is arguably the breakout star of the show.
Katrine typifies the icy, accomplished Scandinavian blonde that we’ve all wished we were at some point in our lives. She’s sexy, she’s ruthless and she’s wildly successful, and all this could make Katrine unsympathetic, if it wasn’t for one thing: we get to see her in her tracksuit. When you see a woman slobbing around an untidy one-bedroom flat in an oversized grey marl t-shirt and baggy bottoms, she’s no longer an untouchable. Okay, we’ve had other privileged, plot-driven, perfunctory peeks at Katrine’s vulnerable side, but most of our easy familiarity with Katrine comes courtesy of her off-duty wardrobe. A wardrobe that tells us all sorts of wonderful things about her: that her on-duty status as a sexy blonde Scandi fantasy is entirely accidental, that comfort and functionality are all she cares about in a wardrobe, that she is so into her job that she doesn’t give a shit that she’s out of fashion.
Fashion can function as armour, and the workplaces in Borgen are battlegrounds, particularly for women. We might long to be Katrine when we see her power-suited and spike-heeled striding around a studio, but it’s in her sweat-stained grey marl that we love her as a friend.