In the last couple of weeks in my house we have been somewhat concentrated on a Danish TV series we have picked up from Netflix. The series is called Rita, and is named after the heroine, who is a tall, leggy, independent and in her individualistic way extremely beautiful school teacher, described by one of her colleagues as “I never met anyone as anarchistic as you.”
We worked our way through the eight or nine episodes that are all that is on offer, and we discovered that, bit by bit Rita had insinuated herself into our lives until she seemed almost to have become part of our household. We keep discussing her, talking about her actions, her moods, her outrageous indiscretions, as we walk along the street, laughing about them, and at the same time earnestly discussing their meaning.
The actress playing this amazing role is Mille Dinesen, a 39-year-old with long experience in TV series. I would be surprised if overseas producers are not beating a path to her door.When I remarked to my son, also an afficionado of this series, how wonderful this character is, he said, “She’s both wonderful and terrible,” which is exactly true. Unconcerned by what anyone else thinks of her, she strides through the school with a simple mission --- as was eventually revealed when the series was half finished --- that is, to defend her students, even from their parents. She smokes continuously in defiance of all non-smoking rules, engages in casual sex with the headmaster and a couple of the parents of her pupils, (a definite no-no!), and almost automatically opposes every initiative taken within the school supposedly for the benefit of the pupils.
She has an Achilles heel, which is that she seems to care more about her students than she does about her own three children, who seem to be growing up almost without a sense of direction, and with a sort of shrugging, minimalist, contact with their mother. She had a poisoned relationship with her own mother, who turns up with some sort of injured leg, begging for sympathy, and whom Rita puts up with only so long as is necessary to see her off, back to her own home. So one of her daughters, a beautiful young blonde kid who seems to be suffering from dyslexia which has escaped Rita’s notice, has to go in secret to her grandmother to get her to write a job application for her.
Still, in spite of all this, I remarked to my friend, “Boy, I would love to have had her for a teacher,” and she agreed.
Her gig seems to be up by the end of the first season, but I read on the Internet that a second season is in production, and in this part of the world, we can hardly wait for it. This kind of non-conformist thinking is just what we searched for throughout the school career of our children, all those years ago, but they could count on the fingers of one hand --- if that, more like half a hand --- the teachers who really left a favorable impression on them and helped them struggle through the school system.