As the latest Scandinavian drama sensation, The Bridge, comes to an end tonight on BBC4, what’s struck me most about the programme is that we need more shows like this in the UK. And now I’ll explain why.
For me, there are two main elements to The Bridge that mark it out as being different to much of the UK drama output.
1) The main female character is completely unfeminine
From the very first episode, when the Swedish detective Saga Noren refuses to let an ambulance containing a patient due for an urgent transplant across the titular bridge, she’s marked out as behaving in a very masculine way.
Saga picks up men in bars and has one-night stands, while her male Danish colleague is portrayed as the ‘sensitive’ one.
That’s not to say that strong, female characters don’t exist in UK dramas – the ITV cop show Scott & Bailey has three, including the eponymous S&B’s boss Jill – but they’re few and far between.
In fact, with The Killing, Borgen and now The Bridge, Scandinavia is leading the way in this regard, with possibly Claire Danes’ Carrie in Homeland making up the list.
2) My second point does relate to the first slightly. Part of Saga’s character is driven by her autism – probably Asperger’s – a fact that’s never explicitly acknowledged. And for me, this is a hugely brave and impressive thing to do in a drama.
To give a main character a medical condition to which you never actually refer and deliberately not make it the thrust of the storyline is rarely done.
A disability is normally the reason for a show, not a side issue. If more writers wrote this sort of thing into their scripts, it would help to break down the stigma about disabilities and illnesses that persist across much of society.
In the meantime, enjoy it while you can.