“Rita”, a Danish series released in 2012 , can be categorized as a dramatic comedy that shows the personal and professional experiences of its protagonist (Rita Madsen). This teacher, who works in Danish public schools, is now in her forties and has no qualms about speaking her mind. She has an innate tendency to go against established norms.
During its four seasons to date (and without official confirmation of its renewal or definitive end), the plot explains in a reflective and critical way the problems and vicissitudes that can intrinsically arise in the performance of teaching work , as well as other types of crossroads, conflicts and personal and interpersonal experiences that the protagonist lives in her most familiar and sentimental environment.
A fiction focused on the educational task
Taking into consideration that as this is a series in which the outcome of some of the situations exposed throughout its 32 chapters may present a resolution at some point simpler than what could happen in real life, the truth is that the explanation that the scriptwriters give on how to manage issues such as parental overprotection towards children, the questioning of the teaching figure by families, school bullying, the acceptance of different sexual orientations, etc, allows for an act of reflection on what type of values sustain today’s society.
In fact, Rita usually uses an unorthodox methodology, generating enmity or confrontation with the rest of the adults (such as her work colleagues, the students’ parents, relatives and friends) although on the other hand, she seems to be highly valued and loved by the group of minors who attend her classes .
What can the “Rita” series contribute?
Given the variety of questions raised by the series, let’s see what kind of learning, values, lessons and reflections can be generated by following this peculiar and interesting television production, both within one’s own personal and individual emotional development, and in a more global and general sense about the way of understanding today’s society.
1. Giving more weight to moral aspects over legal aspects
Rita has a tendency to act independently and is often very little influenced by the opinions of others. An example of this is when she decides to take over the “co-tutoring” (unofficially speaking) of an adolescent whose mother has a bipolar disorder and decides not to report the situation so that the boy is not separated from his mother figure.
2. Actively address the cause of the discomfort
Rita’s character does not miss a single opportunity to solve a school situation identified as problematic, getting involved and looking for alternatives on how to proceed if the option applied in the first place does not work. The teacher seems to defend a positive conception of “change” by not settling for the established just because it is the usual or the most comfortable.
An example of this can be seen in the assumption that she herself makes about the sexual orientation of her youngest son Jeppe and how she confronts the situation with the parents of the couples that the boy is introducing at home.
3. Be consistent and accept the consequences of one’s decisions
On many occasions the protagonist tries to convey to both the students and her own children that they must learn to decide for themselves and that every act is followed by a certain effect. She also defends as essential to base one’s choices on the consideration of these consequences, even if they imply the renunciation of a benefit or imply a high personal cost.
In one of the problems exposed in the third season, Rita prefers to opt for the economic salvation of the school over keeping her job as a teacher and director. However, it is also true that in her role as a mother she has some emotional deficiencies that interfere negatively in the manifestation of a responsible, mature and more cautious attitude.
4. Express and share both cognitions and feelings
This is important to encourage proper emotional management . This learning is one of the ones that Rita may value as more complex to achieve, since in the first seasons a very significant emotional isolation from her own family is observed, especially from her children and mother. Little by little, the teacher is learning to establish more intimate interpersonal ties, being able to show more of her feelings towards the other, even if initially she makes such approaches in an erratic manner.
5. Avoiding prejudice, stigmatization and unfounded criticism
In one of the chapters, Rita advocates defending a student with attention deficit disorder against an accusation of vandalism by the educational community. This involves her acting against the majority opinion and standing up for her personal convictions. Later on, she will defend until all possibilities are exhausted the maintenance of a space of inclusion for part of the student body with learning difficulties and other adverse psychological characteristics.
Learning to forgive oneself, accept and learn from one’s mistakes. This is undoubtedly one of the last lessons that Rita manages to internalize after meeting again with some traumatic events of the past that have been making a dent in her character and in her way of functioning in the interpersonal field. This is very evident in the fourth season, where continuous moments of flashbacks present a rebellious adolescent Rita with a great family problem on her shoulders.
By way of conclusion
After this brief analysis of the contents included in the footage, it seems that the series offers an alternative perspective on how to deal with everyday situations that, both personally and professionally, may arise in the different environments of interaction of the same individual. Although it is true that the character tends to trip over the same stone several times and that he or she is usually in the spotlight of the rest of the adults with whom he or she interacts, the teacher manages to teach her students (and the viewer) a series of values that go far beyond the academic content that other teachers in the series are willing to transmit.
Thus, every life situation is full of nuances that must be contextualized and taken into account in order to escape from the dichotomies and rigidity that are normally associated with the belief of certain conventionalisms that lack practical sense with respect to the task within current society.