Homeland versus The Bridge
When I first watched the US TV series Homeland I was completely captivated, and told many people it was the must-watch show of the decade. Then my husband, Keith, and I watched The Bridge a Danish/Swedish detective series. At first, I found The Bridge ugly. It featured the grey panoramas and bleak cities that dull rather than enliven the spirit. However, gradually, its warmth crept up on me. The main woman, Saga, whose un-brushed hair irritated me at the beginning, became so vulnerable and beautiful in her struggles to be a good person. In the final scene of the first series her hair seemed to say it all – how impossible it is to get all the details right. We then started on the third series of Homeland. Now the characters seemed stereotypes, representing different ways to be a person, but not actual people. As Keith said, “It is as if they have no personality.” I still think it is brilliant television (more on why in another post) but it is a show of archetypes, it conveys messages about politics and war, naivety and arrogance. The Bridge is a show about people who cannot quite be placed, who are subtle, complex. If these shows say something about their cultures, then perhaps what is most interesting about the US is how they play at power. It is as if the culture has become jammed by the stories of their success, making it difficult to move fluidly – one must jiggle between positions or leap from one to the other. The Scandinavians, on the other hand, seem freer to be nuanced individuals – their public story being more humble and less certain. Have the Americans forgotten that winners look desperately uncool as soon as they take fall for the illusion that their victory is real? I guess that is why some of their best art tries to point this out.
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