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The Bridge [Media Studies, A Level, WJEC] Cheat Sheet by

The Bridge is an essential component 2 topic if you're studying Media Studies at A Level (under WJEC, maybe some other exam boards too). This topic is only based on S3 E1.

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Featuring Henrik and Saga

Media Language

Crime dramas have a recogn­isable repertoire of elements, these may be specific to a sub-genre, for example a psycho­logical crime drama. These conven­tions have evolved over time and developed to reflect social and cultural change and the needs and expect­ations of audiences. However, these dramas share simila­rities which place them in the crime genre, including:

- Narrative: This is usually based on a crime that needs to be invest­igated and solved.
-> Structure: Crime dramas may use a range of different narrative struct­ures- they may conform to Todorov's theory where the structure is linear from the initial disruption through to a resolu­tion, or non-linear where time and space is manipu­lated. Inverted narratives show the crime and the perpet­rator at the start and then may have a non-linear structure including flashb­acks. Other examples of the genre create a restricted narrative in which inform­ation is withheld from the audience and they are involved in the solving of the crime alongside the police. In The Bridge, there are elements of a flexi-­nar­rative. The characters are complex, storylines interw­eave, and the audience is challenged through enigma and engagement with complex charac­ters.
-> Narrative disrup­tions occur that change the course of the story, these can be events that happen or revela­tions that are made by charac­ters. Sometimes, the audience are in a privileged spectator position whereby they know more than the characters within the story world.
-> Binary opposi­tions function as a narrative element including good vs evil, police vs criminal as well as, in the case of The Bridge, the cultural differ­ences of Sweden vs Denmark, Saga vs Hanne, the nuclear vs the non-nu­clear family and illusion vs reality.
The resolving of some of these binary opposi­tions within the story world may have an ideolo­gical signif­icance, for example evil being punished and justice prevailing in a crime drama (Struc­tur­alism: Levi-S­tra­uss).
-> Plot situations are included that are typical of the crime genre. For example, the discovery of a body, an arrest, an interview with a suspect or the denouement where the perpet­rator of the crime is revealed by the detective. These situations are made slightly different in The Bridge due to the incong­rue­ncies in Saga's character. For example, in the interview with the victim's wife Saga has to be prevented from showing her the crime scene photog­raphs.
-> Story arcs and narrative strands occur in episodes and across the series of a crime drama. In The Bridge, as this is the first episode of a new series, there are several complex, enigmatic narrative strands, some new and some carrying over from other series, which will be interwoven across the episodes in this series, including:
- Saga's past and her involv­ement with Martin, her role in this narrative and how she relates to others, her past and her mother.
- The partne­rships and team dynamics, for example Hanne Thomsen and Lillian and the tension with the Saga and the Swedish team.
- The crime- who killed Helle Anker? The enigma of the murder scene set up as a nuclear family.
- The additional storylines including the role of Alexsandr and his place in the narrative.
- The character of Henrik, his drug dependence and the enigma surrou­nding his family. The expect­ation of how he and Saga will work together.

- Stock characters usually including a hierarchy with a boss, a detective, a sidekick, and other charac­ters, for example a victim, a range of suspects, the perpet­rator of the crime and expert­s/w­itn­esses who help in the solving of the crime. Often the pairing of characters are binary opposites, and their relati­onships contribute to tensions within the narrative, this is the case with Saga and firstly Hanne and then potent­ially Henrik.

- Setting and locations: These will become synonymous with the programme and the brand and will relate to the characters and the sub-genre. Some settings will be typical for the genre, for example the police station, the post-m­ortem lab and urban crime settings, others become iconic, for example, the bridge itself.


Narrat­ology - Todorov

All narratives share a basic structure involving movement from one state of equili­brium to another, separated by a disequ­ili­brium. The opening of The Bridge establ­ishes an initial equili­brium, Martin is now in jail, Saga is focused on work and Pettersen and Lillian are married.
The disruption to this equili­brium is the discovery of the body of Helle Anker. Enigma codes are then establ­ished as a key element of the narrative in the attempt to find the killer.
A series of story arcs are establ­ished which interweave across the episode.
As this is an example of an episodic drama there would not be a resolution at the end of the first episode, instead there is a cliff-­hanger with an explosion where Hanne is seriously injured and the introd­uction of Henrik as Saga's new partner. The audience has been placed in a privileged spectator position regarding Henrik's situation which foresh­adows possible future narrat­ives.

-- How genre conven­tions are socially and histor­ically relative, dynamic and can be used in a hybrid way --

Although genres have never been stagnant, it is increa­singly the case that they are more dynamic and seek to challenge audience expect­ations. The genre now is a starting point to target the audience and then surprise them through hybridity and intert­ext­uality.
Some progra­mmes, for example The Bridge, challenge and subvert genre conven­tions, in this case through the narrative, the characters and reference to other genres. The Nordic Noir crime dramas demons­trate their hybridity through reference to the conven­tions of film noir many, but not all of which are evident in The Bridge:
-A dark pessim­istic tone and mood
- Chiaro­scuro lighting and shadows establ­ishing enigma codes and a bleak melancholy aesthetic.
- A sexually attractive femme fatale functi­oning as a strong protag­onist, until the end.
- Disill­usi­oned, flawed anti-hero (detec­tive), often with a past
- Claust­rop­hobic and menacing setting: closed frames to connote entrap­ment; canted angles suggesting disori­ent­ation.
- A slow pace
- Moral decline and ambiguity with a focus on the darker elements of life.
- Themes of corrup­tion, greed, obsession, duality and isolation.
- Strong awareness of mortality and irony of human existence.
- Complex narrative and convoluted plot
- Iconog­raphy - bars created by shadows through blinds, cigare­ttes, neon, rain, alleyways, trench coat and trilby.


Genre - Steve Neale

Neale asserts that genres may be dominated by repeti­tion, but they are also marked by differ­ence, variation and change. Crime dramas have a recogn­isable repertoire of elements that place them in the genre, but to appeal to audiences they need to display something different to set them apart from other examples. Difference is essential to sustain a genre, to simply repeat the codes and conven­tions of the form would not appeal to an audience.
In The Bridge, the Scandi­navian setting, locations, and the enigmatic character of Saga proved novel for audiences.
The Bridge demons­trates that genres change, develop and vary as they borrow from and overlap with one another some contem­porary crime dramas are less easy to categorise as they are hybrid genres and this variation conseq­uently enhances audience appeal. The Bridge is an example of the Nordic Noir sub-genre, borrows conven­tions from film noir.
Genres exist within specific economic, instit­utional and industrial contexts. The recogn­isable codes and conven­tions of crime dramas make them easy to market to audiences. However, subverting and challe­nging these conven­tions by introd­ucing more novel elements as in The Bridge can also ensure commercial success.

The Bridge demons­trates typical elements of a police procedural crime drama, but also, as Neale has suggested, incorp­orates differ­ences illust­rating the dynamic and socially relative nature of genre conven­tions and the hybridity of the genre:
- Nordic Noir / Film Noir elements
- Elements of the action genre, for example the chase scene
- Horror conven­tions, for example the build-up of tense music, audio codes suggesting supern­atural elements, slow turning to camera and the execution of the crime.
- Elements of the psycho­logical thriller, for example the murder scene, the slow pace and the use of silenc­e/lack of dialogue.
- Gender repres­ent­ations - there are stock characters and repres­ent­ations we expect in a crime drama, but strong female roles challe­nging expect­ations. Saga is an unusual heroine, she is flawed but central to the narrative, with unpred­ictable and intere­sting behaviour traits.
- Setting and aesthetic, intensity of mood and dark, unsettling themes.
- Technical codes which reference film noir, for example the low-key lighting, the use of torchl­ight, profile shots and intense close-ups and frames with isolated figures.
- The unique setting, the bridge, represents the 'other­-wo­rldly' which links cultures but is neither one place nor another, shots of the bridge are used throughout the episode.
- The narrative of the stylised murders refere­ncing "­art­" are notions of the surreal.

-- How the combin­ations of elements of media language influence meaning --

- Codes of clothing: the connot­ations of charac­ter's clothing and appearance to create meanings. Clothing is a rapid way of commun­icating messages in The Bridge. Saga's versions of the same outfit and colour scheme contribute to the enigma surrou­nding her character and her behaviour traits. Clothing worn by the other detectives is informal and functi­onal, unlike UK crime dramas clothing does not connote a hierarchy within the police force.

- Gesture and expres­sion: Non-verbal commun­icators are quick ways of constr­ucting meaning. The Bridge frequently uses close-up shots of characters to commun­icate meaning and many of the expres­sions are serious, anxious and fearful, reflecting the dark themes and melancholy aesthetic. Saga's passive expression rarely changes, and it is only after the explosion and in the final scenes of this episode where she is confronted with her mother, that she is seen to be discon­certed, confused and afraid.

- Iconog­raphy and setting: props, backgr­ounds and settings work together to construct the narrative. The settings in The Bridge clearly establish realism and the film noir elements of the genre and also employ the typical Scandi­navian elements of the cold weather and the dark. The vast Nordic landscape creates a sense of isolation and aliena­tion. The iconic image of the Oresund Bridge features regularly in the series. Many of the settings create a sense of entrapment including corridors and dimly lit locations, for example the warehouse crime scene.

-- Technical codes --

Camera shots, movement and angles work together to commun­icate messages and 'show' the narrative. The Bridge has high production values and a distin­ctive style which is used to convey inform­ation without the use of dialogue.

- Close-ups advance the relati­onships between characters and establish tension and a dynamic. This is evident in the conver­sation between Saga and the other charac­ters. Often the close-ups show the profile of the character or are in silhou­ette, the opening introd­uction to Saga in the lift combines both to construct her enigmatic character.

- Tracking shots are used to introduce both Saga and Hanne, constr­ucting both as powerful women with a job to do and are also used to involve the audience as part of the invest­igative process as they follow the charac­ters.

- Establ­ishing shots are quick ways of commun­icating inform­ation, the bridge is used regularly to indicate changes of settings between Sweden and Denmark and bird's eye view city shots are used similarly. These shots also serve to create a sense of cultural verisi­mil­itude establ­ishing a real city in which the characters function, so reinfo­rcing their believ­abi­lity.

- The film noir technique of shooting through windows, or behind obstacles is used, positi­oning the audience as looking in on the scene or the lives of other characters as an outsider. The sense of entrapment created by this filming in some cases suggests their isolation or that they have something to hide. For example, the audience often views Saga from behind glass or another barrier and Henrik and his children are first viewed through the window.

- The post-p­rod­uction editing creates a desatu­rated colour palette which contri­butes to the dark, melanc­holic feel of the programme.

-- Audio Codes --

Sound and music are effective in commun­icating meaning in this programme:

- Music: the haunting track used for the credit sequence foresh­adows the slow pace of the programme and creates expect­ations of the style of the programme to follow. The tense music at the start of the episode has intert­extual references to the horror genre building audience expect­ation of the macabre scene that unfolds.

- Diegetic sound: the clicking of the crime scene invest­iga­tor's camera at the start establ­ishes generic realism. The sound of the cans at Morten's cabin is both unsettling and on the second visit, an action code for the explosion to follow which is then followed by a discon­certing silence.

- Dialogue: some of the dialogue is conven­tional of a crime drama and is related to the invest­igation and police procedure and as such advances the narrative. Other elements of dialogue serve to develop characters and relati­onships. Saga's clipped, at times forced, dialogue contri­butes to her idiosy­ncratic character. She is very literal in her unders­tanding and her responses are refres­hingly honest. When the owner of the site where the victim is thought to have been murdered asks her "­Could you hurry up a bit", she replies "­No". The conver­sations between the detectives and Helle Anker's wife creates a back story and possible motivates for her murder. Saga's mother references to "your crime" in relation to Saga creates an enigma at the end of the fist episode and provides some insight into Saga's past, this is partic­ularly intriguing as Saga has stated earlier in the episode, "I don't like my mum".

Product Context

The Bridge (Bron/­Breon) is one of the A Level options studied for Section A: Television in the Global Age alongside Life on Mars. The set product is the first episode of series 3 which was broadcast in the UK on BBC Four at 9pm on 21st November 2015.

The Bridge is an example of a Scando­navian sub-genre of crime-­drama - Nordic Noir. The drama is set in Sweden, the title refers to the Oresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden and is a metaphor for the collab­oration between the two police forces which commenced after a body was discovered in the middle of the bridge in the first episode of the first series.

The crime drama was a co-pro­duction between Filmlance Intern­ational and Nimbus Film.

The Bridge followed on from the success of other Nordic Noir crime dramas broadcast by BBC Four including the highly successful The Killing and Wallander. There were four series between 2011 - 2018.

Series 3 opens with the murder in Malmo of a prominent Danish gender campaigner and owner of Copenh­agen's first gender neutral pre-school Swedish detective Saga Norén is assigned a new Danish colleague Hanne to help with the invest­iga­tion, but their relati­onship does not get off to a good start with feelings still running high after Saga's involv­ement in sending her previous Danish partner Martin to jail for murdering the man who killed his son.


The Bridge is a Swedis­h/D­anish coprod­uction. It was broadcast in both of these countries, which means that funding came from two different places and has two different national audiences.
The Swedish production company that was involved was Filmlance, and the Danish production company involved was called Nimbus Film.
Being produced by two companies in Sweden and Denmark meant that they could film in two countries, so the coprod­uction opened up options on locations. This does make it, in turn, both easier and tricker- it gives easier access to film in these countries, but what makes it tricky is getting crew and cast across these countries. It can cause logistical problems, such as which country legally employs the cast and crew, etc. There will also be regulation issues- which countries regula­tions do you follow?
The Bridge followed the working laws of Sweden, but they filmed in both countries - they did have to state which laws they agree to follow.

They were granted funding by the Copenhagen Filmfund, a Danish company, so that meant that they had to employ more Danish cast and crew. Season 3 had more funding from Creative Europe Media, who have them the resources to achieve a high-b­udget, high-q­uality feel to the show.
When production values seem higher, it often makes the show more appealing to audiences and also to other countries when trying to distribute it globally.

In Sweden, The Bridge was broadcast on a channel called the SVT 1, it's a large public service broadc­asting channel in Sweden- what that means is that they are funded by the license fees and their content must "­serve the public­" in some way (e.g. be cultural).
It means that their programmes need to demons­trate that they are not "­was­tin­g" citizens' money.
SVT as a channel has their own production studios in Malmo, which is very useful because The Bridge was able to use those production studios- using in-house resources saved money for The Bridge.

These intern­ational coprod­uct­ion's are on the rise in the TV industry, as it's a great way to share production costs and target global audiences. However, it's important to remember that subtitled "­foreign langua­ge" programmes are still often considered quite niche by broadc­asters and audiences.

In Denmark, The Bridge was broadcast on DR1, which stands for Denmark Radio 1. Like the BBC and SVT, its also a public service broadc­aster and license fee-fu­nded.
Denmark is a small country and almost everyone there watches DR content. So broadc­asting on this channel is a great way of reaching a large national audience in Denmark.

In England, The Bridge was broadcast on BBC Four, under the BBC which is also a public service broadc­aster, license fee funded organi­sation. BBC 4 focuses on showing programmes that feature arts, music and culture.
BBC 4 showed The Bridge at 9pm on a Saturday, which is peak viewing slot. It's also a slot that the BBC4 dedicate to showing foreign language drama so it's a great way of targeting fans of this genre.

Because all three channels mentioned are funded by the license fee, they aren't under pressure from advert­isers to attract huge audiences. As they are funded regardless of how many people watch, they can afford to take more risks and broadcast more niche content.

The show was broadcast in over 174 countries worldwide and there are 4 seasons in total. There have been remakes in other countries, such as UK/France, America, etc.
Theory: The series was remade for a US audience, and again for a UK/France audience, reflecting Hesmon­dha­lgh's ideas about companies maximising their profit and minimising risk by reusing successful formats.

Ofcom regulate content shown on UK television to ensure it doesn't break rules about aspects such as violence, sex, drugs, etc. Viewers of The Bridge may have found the scenes of a leg being blown off too gruesome, or may have been offended by the references to gender and/or PTSD. The gruesome nature of some of the scenes may explain why the BBC chose to broadcast it 9pm, after the watershed.

This idea of watershed is almost null now, as digital streaming sites including BBC I-Player mean that audiences can watch the show at any time of day, making the watershed a thing of the past.
Piracy of new TV shows is on the increase and spoilers often get leaked online before many audiences even get to see the show, so they chose to control the availa­bility of the show (Hesmo­ndh­algh) by broadc­asting each episode in both Sweden and Denmark simult­ane­ously, so it reduced the possib­ility it could be pirated or spoiled during the 1/2 hr release differ­ence.

The show was released on Netflix in countries like Austria, Germany, Switze­rland and Canada, so the producers are aware that digital streaming is becoming highly popular and a great way of teaching new audiences (e.g. via suggested content, "­Watch Next", "You may be interested in")

They used a range of marketing techniques to market the show, there are lots of TV and magazine interviews with the cast and crew, like The Radio Times, and UK, Nordic Noir. The multiple magazine features and interviews allowed the programme makers and cast to explain the show to new audiences. The articles often featured female actresses and discus­sions about feminism, engaging audiences who wanted to see stronger female charac­ters.
Interviews with cast on daytime chat show This Morning targeted an older audience. They also took the cast and crew to a TV convention called the Nordicana, where lots of people who are fans of the Nordic TV culture get together to learn more about the show. It's a way of targeting that very specific niche genre fans. **
They further promoted the show by inviting super fans of the series to the season 3 premiere, which aided word-o­f-mouth promotion across fans, who would then go to promote the show online.
BBC Four has a webpage for The Bridge, where you can learn more about the characters indivi­dually and the plot, you could find out what you missed and when the next episodes were on, etc.
Social media was used to tease audiences with clips, info about the new series, and behind­-th­e-s­cenes content.
They used several hashtags across social media, including #TheBridge #TheBron #TheBroan - this was used to create trends and encourage audiences to join in discus­sions about the show.
Lots of the marketing utilised the BBC logo for marketing for the UK audience, it almost adds a mark of quality and respec­tab­ility.
The marketing materials focused on making the genre of the show clear to audiences.
The trailer and some other marketing materials were really emphas­ising the bridge location itself which made the show seem exotic- some audiences might've been engaged by this.
There's also the fact there's a strong sense of anti-hero characters and feminist roles which would've engaged modern audiences and seemed unusual.


The programme attracts the more niche, less mainstream BBC Four audience who are targeted through their expect­ations based on the brand identity of the channel. In broadc­asting Nordic Noir, BBC 4 establ­ished that sub-titled stories could reach a British audience. "BBC Four's primary role is to reflect a range of innova­tive, high quality progra­mming that is intell­ect­ually and culturally enrich­ing."

The programme may attract an inherited audience who will be familiar with other Nordic Noir dramas broadcast on this channel, for example The Killing and Wallla­nder.

The Bridge also offers a range of pleasures for the fans of crime dramas (Uses & Gratif­ica­tions theory), the programme has typical codes and conven­tions of crime dramas but an element of escapism and diversion through the different charac­ters, settings and culture. Audiences will gain pleasure from following the invest­igators as they attempt to solve the crime.

Loyal audiences will have become familiar with the character of Saga, this is the start of series 3 and they will have expect­ations of how her character will behave and may develop based on other series.

Different demogr­aphic factors, for example nation­ality, may affect the ways in which an audience responds. The programme constructs an idea of cultural differ­ences between Sweden and Denmark where, for example, the Swedish characters are seen to be more politi­cally correct than the Danish. Danish and Swedish audiences may feel that The Bridge confirms longst­anding views and reaffirms the separate cultural identi­ties. Conver­sely, some may feel that this is unfair cultural stereo­typing.

Cultural capital, for example an unders­tanding of the conven­tions of film noir or of other Nordic Noir dramas will enhance the viewing experience of the audience.

Gender, for example women, may be empowered by the constr­uction of positive female repres­ent­ations in The Bridge.

Audiences who are interested in crime dramas that offer a different cultural experience are likely to have a positive response to the programme.


Reception theory - Stuart Hall

Consider Hall's assertion that there are three hypoth­etical positions from which messages and meanings may be decoded, in relation to The Bridge:

An audience may understand and accept the producers intended meaning, to construct a programme that appeals to audiences by including some typical conven­tions of the crime drama whilst offering something different and more challe­nging through the character of Saga and the Scandi­navian setting. These viewers will be entert­ained by the programme, its complex narrative, and the intert­extual references to film noir.

Feminist audiences are likely to feel empowered by the inclusion of strong, powerful women in the storyline, by the repres­ent­ation of a lesbian relati­onship and the narrative addressing gender issues.

Some audiences may assume a negotiated position, they may enjoy the typical codes and conven­tions of a crime drama, the enigmas, and the involv­ement with the invest­igative narrative, but feel more uncomf­ortable with the specific focus of the narrative. Swedish and Danish audiences may engage with the drama but feel the cultural depictions are stereo­typ­ical.

An opposi­tional audience reading may struggle to find Saga a sympat­hetic character. Audiences may view her behaviour traits with concern or find it difficult to connect to her emotio­nally as her responses are so different to expect­ations and she lacks humour. A more conser­vative audience may respond negatively to the Swedish liberal attitudes to sex, gender, and political correc­tness.


Repres­ent­ations carry ideolo­gical signif­icance and reflect the time in which the product was made. There is ideolo­gical signif­icance to the way in which repres­ent­ations are constr­ucted in The Bridge which positions the audience to look at social group and issues in different ways, reflecting cultural shifts. For example, this episode explores the growing contem­porary interest in gender and how it is more fluid and changing than in the past and is a subject for discus­sion.

The Bridge, through the ways in which it constructs repres­ent­ations, constructs a feminist discourse that challenges sexist, patria­rchal ideas and values.
- Women are not margin­alised, they are active and central to the narrative.
- Women are not sexualised
- Women are not portrayed in a domestic role or defined as carers or nuturers.
-The women in the programme challenge and/or subvert the typical social norms related to gender behaviour.

The repres­ent­ations in The Bridge are influenced by contem­porary attitudes and debates, and conseq­uently audiences are positioned to consider how repres­ent­ations have changed over time to reflect changes in society.

-- Gender: women/­fem­ininity --

There are several repres­ent­ations of women in The Bridge which subvert and challenge the more typical repres­ent­ations of women in crime dramas. Whilst the victim is more typically female, in the detectives the repres­ent­ation of women is strong reflecting shifts in society, culture and audience expect­ations. These women include:

- Saga: this character breaks away from the more typical repres­ent­ation of a detective. She is often compared to the 'flawed' detective of film noir but could be more accurately described as 'diffe­rent'. Whilst the actor and progra­mme's creators have avoided attaching a label to Saga, in constr­ucting this character more challe­nging, complex behaviours are explored. She is described on the BBC website for the programme as 'a hardcore invest­igator who is socially challe­nged'.
All aspects of this character are pared back to the minimum including her clothing, dialogue, and relati­onships with others. She responds very literally to situations and in conver­sations which creates humour at times.
Intere­sting, whilst her repres­ent­ation is constr­ucted as a powerful female, there are charac­ter­istics of Saga that are more masculine, suggesting this has helped her to survive in a patria­rchal world. Her stance and walk are masculine, she is active and dynamic, moving about a lot, she is unconc­erned by conven­tio­nality, for example she is not worried about changing her t-shirt in the middle of the office. Her clothing is masculine, for example, the leather trousers, military style overcoat and neutral t-shirt.
Her passive expression has became iconic and is shown in closeup partic­ularly when she is attempting to process several pieces of inform­ation and inter-­rel­ati­onships with collea­gues. An example in this episode is when, late in the day and absorbed in the case, she asks John to find a map for her, Hans suggests that John needs to go home, this confuses Saga who replies, 'he's recently divorced and his ex-wife has the kids this week', illust­rating her inability to comprehend anyone who has a life outside of the job. Saga continues to work through the night and the audience is rarely shown aspects of her life outside of work.
Saga's constr­uction allows the programme to explore a character who does not conform to social norms, but in doing so effect­ively represents a particular under/­mis­-re­pre­sented social group. Saga struggles with social situat­ions, she knows how she should behave, but finds this challe­nging, for example when she attempts to make small talk with Hanne. She also lacks empathy and does not read sensitive situations well; she thinks rationally and says whatever occurs to her at the time with limited awareness of its approp­ria­teness. However, she is shown to be vulnerable and afraid at the end of this episode when confronted with her past in the form of her mother.

- Hanne Thomsen: Another example of a strong female character who is also a positive repres­ent­ation of an older woman who is well-r­esp­ected, experi­enced and good at her job. Like the other women in The Bridge, she is not object­ified, her clothing is functional and her grey hair and serious expression aid in constr­ucting her repres­ent­ation. She also exempl­ifies the cultural differ­ences between Sweden and Denmark, 'From their first meeting hostil­ities begin to mount with Hanne showing her prejudices bordering on contempt for Swedish political correc­tness' (quote taken from BBC's webpage). She can barely disguise her disdain when interv­iewing Anker's wife at the idea of a gender­-ne­utral pre-sc­hool, she describes her as 'a bit Swedish'.

- Lise Friss Anderson: Powerful but in a different way, she is middle­-class, the wife of a wealthy busine­ssman. Her views are right-­wing, and she is an opinion leader through her blog displaying her views of what consti­tutes a family which is in direct contrast to those of Helle Anker. She has no qualms in teaching her daughter to react with violence when bullied.

-- Gender: men/ma­scu­linity --

The repres­ent­ations of mascul­inity in The Bridge challenge the idea of inequa­lities of power between men and women. The repres­ent­ations are not typical of crime dramas as the female characters are active and central to the narrative.

- Hans: Whilst he's in a hierar­chi­cally powerful position, he does not use this in an oppressive way and is unders­tanding and supportive of those who work for him, traits that could be said to be more typically feminine. He has an equal relati­onship with his partner Lillian who is a strong woman. He is a positive repres­ent­ation of age.

- Henrik: Portrayed as a flawed, vulnerable character with issues. It is the men, rather than the women, who are presented in domestic roles. Henrik cooks and cleans and appears to be nurturing his children, a role usually given to female charac­ters. Lise has a male cleaner, Rikard who fulfils a domestic role.


Feminist theory - Bell Hooks

Bell Hooks assertion that feminism is a struggle to end sexist­/pa­tri­archal oppression and the ideology of domination can be explored in relation to The Bridge:
Whilst patria­rchal repres­ent­ations of gender are still evident in crime dramas, the constr­uctions of repres­ent­ations of women in The Bridge largely challenge bell hooks’ concept of ‘the ideology of domina­tion’, reflecting changing ideologies and engaging in a feminist discourse.

Saga and Hanne challenge the norm of women in the police force as does Lillian who is the Danish Police Commis­sioner in Copenh­agen. Repres­ent­ations of the family also challenge stereo­types.

Helle Anker is an LGBT spokes­person offering a positive repres­ent­ation of acceptance of lesbian marriage within society. Saga introduces Hanne to “Hen” as a gender­-ne­utral pronoun reflecting changing attitudes to gender.

Men in The Bridge are also constr­ucted as less dominant; Hans is gentle and caring, a father figure for Saga, and Henrik is vulnerable and coping with his own demons.

However, patria­rchal domination is reflected in the crime where the victim is a woman with liberal views suggesting that when patriarchy is challenged women are targeted. The way in which her body is displayed repres­enting a more tradit­ional nuclear family, is relevant in reasse­rting stereo­typical gender roles.

Feminist theory - Van Zoonen

Van Zoonen’s assertion that gender is constr­ucted through discourse and that its meaning varies according to cultural and historical context can be applied to The Bridge:

The constr­uction of repres­ent­ations in The Bridge reflects the changing roles of men and women in society and challenges typical stereo­types of gender. The creation of Saga’s character reflects the interest in society in the changing ideas and viewpoints regarding gender, reinfo­rcing Van Zoonen’s assertion that the meaning of gender varies according to cultural contexts.

In The Bridge, contrary to Van Zoonen’s claim, women are framed and constr­ucted in a similar way to men. Women are active, not passive, they are not objects of the male gaze and it is they who drive the narrative forward. When Saga takes off her t-shirt, the gaze between Hanne and John is intra-­die­getic, in bewild­erment at her action, she is not object­ified by the camera.

Gender perfor­manity - Judith Butler

Butler’s assertion that identity is perfor­mat­ively constr­ucted and that there is no gender identity behind the expres­sions of gender can be explored in relation to The Bridge:

Through the progra­mme’s inclusion of Helle Anker’s narrative regarding gender identity, a discourse is opened up and debated within the programme focusing on the nature of gender. Hanne states regarding Anker, “she was very active in the gender debate, LGBT issues. You know, there’s not gender, only humans”.

Saga subverts and challenges the accepted social norms regarding gender behaviour. The constr­uction of her character through, for example, clothing, expres­sion, and behaviour, challenges the typical repres­ent­ations of female characters in this genre.

Media Contexts

Social and cultural contexts
The fact that the programme reflects the changing attitudes towards gender and specif­ically introduces a discourse into the narrative of this series around gender identity and LGBTQ issues.
The repres­ent­ation of gender in the programme, including the constr­uction of Saga's character, is influenced by changing social and cultural attitudes regarding the role of women in society.
The binary opposition of the Swedish and Danish cultures highlights how issues may be treated differ­ently in different cultures.
Responses to The Bridge may reflect the social and cultural circum­stances of the audience.

Historical context
The Bridge demons­trates that genre conven­tions are histor­ically relative and dynamic.
The repres­ent­ations constr­ucted in the program are affected by the historical context, they subvert and challenge typical repres­ent­ations that have been accepted over time and in doing so reflect the society of the time.
Different audience interp­ret­ations of The Bridge may reflect historical circum­sta­nces.

Economic contexts
The Bridge demons­trates the economic advantages of intern­ational co-pro­duc­tions.
The creation of the Nordic Noir brand meant that programmes could be successful marketed globally.
Establ­ishing the codes and conven­tions of this style of programme builds a loyal fanbase and reduces the economic risk.


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