'I Am the Ambassador': Denmark's reality TV darling is the anti-Trump

Rufus Gifford, US ambassador to Denmark, has become the unlikely star of a Danish reality TV show.

John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion who focuses on climate change and social justice. Follow him on Snapchat, Facebook and email. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

Copenhagen, Denmark (CNN)Denmark is obsessed with an American reality TV star.

And no, it's not Donald Trump.
It's Rufus Gifford -- or "Rufus," as everyone here seems to know him.
Gifford is the US ambassador to this little near-utopic nation, which is consistently ranked as one of happiest, best-educated and greenest places on Earth. The 40-something diplomat has found himself the unlikely star of a Danish reality TV show called "I Am the Ambassador."
    Gifford's dog, Argos, and husband, Stephen, are fixtures of the six-episode program, which entirely lacks the drama of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" or the wine-glass-throwing of "The Real Housewives" series. For proof, look no further than the first episode's description, which says, "The embassy hosts a barbecue for the ambassador's birthday, and Rufus and Stephen throw a party. Rufus and the Danish defense minister talk terrorism." You might think that last sentence -- and "terrorism" -- means there's going to be some tension in the episode, some looming threat. You'd be wrong. There's basically no drama here, no plot twist, no ex-boyfriend coming to sabotage the couple's marriage, no slurry, vendetta-carrying party crashers.

    Rufus and Argos selfie wishing you all a very happy 2014!

    A photo posted by Rufus Gifford (@rufusgifford) on

    And that's exactly what Danes like about it.
    "He walks in the gay pride parade. He runs the Copenhagen half-marathon. He's very open," said Lykke Leonardsen, who works on climate issues for the city of Copenhagen.
    "He's very American in the most positive way."
    At a time when another reality show veteran, Donald Trump, is clawing for the US presidency, Gifford, a former Obama fund-raiser, represents the America that Europeans want to believe still exists. There are no fiery, cantankerous speeches on the show, much less "rigged election" conspiracies or allegations of sexual assault. There's no gotta-see-what-happens-next aspect to Gifford's persona. Gifford is the inoffensive, big-smiling, gay, golden-retriever-walking anti-Trump.
    Sadly, he's exactly the kind of public figure who wouldn't interest Americans much these days.
    Assuming the GOP nominee doesn't get elected, the Year of Trump is still sure to leave scars on America. Among them likely will be an insatiable appetite for scandal and drama in our politics.
    Theater, not substance, has the spotlight this campaign season. Headlines focus on Hillary Clinton's emails and Trump's bragging about grabbing women's genitals -- on Paul Ryan's fidgeting and Clinton's smile. Debates are long on personal attacks and short on substance. Facts? They're starting to seem irrelevant to many.