What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Welcome to Sweden has the occasional rude joke, as when a woman's parents repeatedly walk in on her and her boyfriend attempting to have sex. A woman is seen sinking to her knees in front of a man with his pants down; men briefly are seen nude from the rear (with blurred buttocks) as they skinny-dip in a lake. There's a great deal of drinking, mostly of the festive variety, including characters doing shots in a sauna (which ultimately causes a man to pass out) and an entire family enthusiastically singing drinking songs before downing drinks. A man says he uses no drugs except weed, which "doesn't count, right?"
What's the story?
When nebbishy New Yorker Bruce Evans (Greg Poehler) decides to emigrate to be with his Scandinavian girlfriend Emma Wiik (Josephine Bornebusch), it's WELCOME TO SWEDEN and a host of cultural mishaps. Whether it's passing out after doing naked shots with Emma's dad, Birger (Claes Mansson), in a sauna, trying to force his attentions on typically private Swedish neighbors, or failing to show proper respect for Emma's Arne Jacobsen chair, Bruce is your typical clueless American. But he loves his girlfriend, and he's determined to make a go of it, even if all of Sweden seems slightly perplexed by him.
Is it any good?
Most Americans know little about Sweden beyond massage techniques and ABBA records, so Welcome to Sweden is like a cultural curio wrapped in a series of gentle jokes that go down so smoothly, you'll want to keep the good times rolling by watching episode after episode. This is more "hmm!" humor than the belly-slapping variety, with funnies resulting mostly from cultural mix-ups. Bruce is earnestly trying to understand his new home -- and to fit in, and to make his new (sorta) in-laws like him. But he can barely understand a word of Birger's heavily accented English, and his mother-in-law, the luminous Lena Olin, seems intent on making snippy jokes about Bruce's height and dire prospects for making a go of Swedish citizenship.
What makes this show rise above what could be sitcom tropes is its abundant sweetness, evident in a family that sits together in the garden enjoying homemade cinnamon buns (even if the desserts give Bruce diarrhea) and sings Swedish drinking songs at parties. Bruce is genuinely bewildered by most aspects of Swedish life, but his gameness and the relatability of his struggles (absurd as they are) make this show a winner. Oh, and since it's widely known that the Poehler who plays Bruce is the brother of Amy Poehler, it should be noted that she, and other American stars such as Aubrey Plaza and Will Ferrell, show up frequently, playing themselves, usually to pretty good comic effect.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Welcome to Sweden's pedigree. Its star, Greg Poehler, is the brother of Amy Poehler, a famous actress and comedian. Do you think a relationship to a star helps get a project made? Is Welcome to Sweden worthy despite (or because of) its impressive connections?
Much of the dialogue on Welcome to Sweden is said in Swedish and subtitled in English. Does that add to or detract from the humor for you? Why?
Welcome to Sweden is based on the real life of Greg Poehler, who moved to Sweden to be with his girlfriend, who is now his wife and the mother of his three children. Does the factual basis make you enjoy the show more? Why, or why not?