Welcome to Sweden may feel like yet another fish-out-of-water/guy meets the wacky in-laws rom-com, but gains points for introducing American audiences to a new culture and for being charming and funny.
Greg Poehler, younger brother of Amy, took his real life experiences and crafted them into this single camera sitcom. He stars as Bruce, an American who leaves his cush job as an accountant to the stars and moves to Stockholm, Sweden to live with Emma (Josephine Bornebusch), the woman he loves. Once he gets to Sweden, Bruce must deal with adapting to a new country and the uncomfortable living accommodations with Emma’s parents.
The sitcom covers many of the basics: studying a new language, getting acquainted with driving, and having to deal with Swedish immigration. In addition, celebrity guest stars pop up from time to time to play heightened versions of themselves. Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Aubrey Plaza and Gene Simmons all make guest appearances to make Bruce’s life just a little more crazy.
Before Welcome to Sweden, Poehler was a lawyer who moved to Sweden to be with his wife. It was only after years of living there that he began stand up comedy and wrote the pilot script for this show. As a first time actor, he holds his own with the more seasoned cast. Bornebusch was the star of one of Sweden’s top rated dramas (Solsidan) and Emma’s mother is played by Lena Olin, who had a major Hollywood breakthrough back in 1988 with The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Claes Mansson portrays Emma’s father, and Christopher Wagelin portrays Gustaf, Emma’s freeloading, beer guzzling brother.
Poehler captures the essence of being a stranger in a strange land. When the rest of the cast speaks in Swedish, he’s as lost as I would be (fortunately, I get subtitles). His chemistry with Bornebusch is very nice. Together they portray the difficulties of making a multi-cultural relationship work. Although the set-up for Welcome to Sweden seems a little heightened, I really enjoyed the relatability and realism of every character. Believability is key in luring a viewer into to a show like this (i.e. one we’ve seen many times before), and Welcome to Sweden keeps its characters grounded.
The series originally ran in Sweden and came to NBC last summer. It did well enough to garner a second round of ten episodes that will air later this season. It’s actually a perfect summer show. Like a Summer Shandy, it goes down smooth, is sweet, and doesn’t leave a sour taste in your mouth. I look forward to when season two begins airing.
Welcome to Sweden: The Complete First Season is a 2-disc DVD set. It is produced by Entertainment One (eOne) and is available on Amazon.