Back in January, a few weeks before we travelled to Sweden, I discovered by chance this TV series called Welcome to Sweden. We binge-watched all the 10 episodes of the first season and I really enjoyed it. It made me look forward to visiting the country and have a taste of what the protagonist was experiencing.
Yesterday we binge-watched it again, in preparation for the second season, which started airing on Sunday night in America.
This is a Swedish-American production, with a mixture of American and Swedish actors. It is created by the main actor, Greg Poehler, and it’s based on his own experiences when he moved to Stockholm to be with his girlfriend. In case the surname is ringing a bell, he’s the brother of comedienne Amy Poehler, who’s one of the producers of the show and also has an acting part in it.
It’s the story of Bruce (Poehler), an American accountant for celebrities who leaves everything behind him in New York to move to Sweden with his girlfriend Emma (Josephine Bornebusch). We see the culture shock he gets since the U.S. and Sweden are quite different. The first shock comes when he meets her family: pappa Birger (Claes Månsson), who has some problems with communicating in English; mamma Viveka (Lena Olin), a therapist who’s not impressed with her daughter’s choice of boyfriend; lazy, goofy brother Gustav (Christopher Wagelin) and the America-obsessed cinephile uncle Bengt (Per Svensson).
We see Bruce struggling to fit in and take in the cultural differences. He has problems with hard liquor and sauna heat (particularly if the two are combined), he shocks Birger and Viveka when he says he hates cinnamon (how can you say no to a kanelbulle and how can you hate a spice?), and his dealings with the immigration and job offices are no easy ride. Then, as an extroverted American, he naturally can’t comprehend the Swedish way of communication, or rather, the lack of. He tries unsuccessfully to talk to neighbours and he can’t get along with Emma’s friends due to his ignorance of Swedish language. He really can’t fit in… or can he? Eventually, it starts looking like he’s becoming one of them…
The show plays with the exaggeration of the Swedish stereotype but of course, it does have a basis of truth. So while having a laugh at Bruce’s Nordic adventures, you can also learn tidbits from the Swedish culture and language. Another thing that I liked was the occasional guest stars, such as Will Ferrell, another American comedian who married a Swede.
Therefore, if you’re bored this summer and would like to watch a new show, give Welcome to Sweden a try. Whether you’re a traveller, an expat or simply a couch potato in search of a laugh or two, you’ll like it.
Season 2 of Welcome to Sweden started yesterday in the U.S.with the first back-to-back episodes and airs on Sundays on NBC.
UPDATE @ July 30, 2015: Disappointing news came out yesterday as Poehler announced that NBC has cancelled the show after low ratings. I’m very saddened by this. It’s summer, do they really have anything better to show? I just wish it could go on in Sweden (where it had more success) even without the American guest stars, but I guess I’m hoping for too much.