When I first reviewed Welcome to Sweden (review here), I was not only nervous about the idea of someone getting a gig by virtue of being Amy Poehler’s brother, but also because the show seemed to be working such a “European” sense of comedy, that I wasn’t sure it would play well to American audiences.
It may have worked out that despite somewhat surprising success, the show remains a bit niche, but Greg Poehler won me over pretty quickly. Based on Greg’s real experiences living in Sweden, the show is a charmingly-envisioned culture clash that wonderfully avoids trying too hard for the comedy.
The story revolves around Greg, who has fallen in love with Emma (Josephine Bornebusch) and decides to relocate with her so that she can take a job back in Sweden. He had a solid job as an investment broker, with a lot of high profile clients, but he’s decided to chuck it all, in somewhat Lloyd Dobler fashion, in order to be with the woman he loves. He’ll figure something out.
The ten-episode season get progressively better with each episode, and what really makes the show is the purity of Greg’s utter lack of any idea of what’s coming his way. There is a good deal of comedy that carries things along, and the showcase of just how different life really is makes the show worth watching in itself, but the most enjoyable part of the ride is simply watching the show become a metaphoric “every relationship” tale.
Neither of them know what they’re doing, despite their “adult” status, and though meeting parents in Sweden is a different game, it isn’t really, and Greg’s baggage keeps showing up in the form of former clients that hunt him down. Emma may have to do a lot of explaining “how to live in Sweden,” but the line soon blurs between Swedish culture and Emma culture, and learning how to live with anyone, in any situation, takes about the same amount of work.
In the end, the show may not be laugh-out-loud funny frequently, but it’s still hilarious, and a show that is well-worth rewatching. It’s just about the definition of “quirky,” and the fact that a show that staves off “Americanization” gives hope for the possibility of future efforts.
Unfortunately, the DVD doesn’t really have much in the way of Bonus Features, but perhaps if the second season continues as well as the first, we may get some extras next time around. Considering the show is largely filmed in Sweden, and there is great potential in the show’s hilarious guest stars, it would be nice to get a few goodies with the release.
Americans best know Sweden for exports such as meatballs, Ikea furniture and Volvo. But on May 19, Entertainment One (eOne) adds “sitcoms” to the list with its co-produced series WELCOME TO SWEDEN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, a 2-disc DVD set. The acclaimed NBC sitcom, an offbeat single-camera comedy from executive producers and siblings Greg & Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”) and created by and starring Greg, became one of the highest-rated summer broadcast comedies of the past five years when it debuted last July. And before its second season debuts, experience a strange land and its stranger customs, in this fish-out-of-water sitcom called “the best new NBC comedy in a long time”.
Based on Greg Poehler’s true life story, WELCOME TO SWEDEN, follows a successful New York money manager to the stars, Bruce (Greg Poehler) who falls in love with a Swedish girl, Emma (Josephine Bornebusch, top-rated Swedish drama “Solsidan”), and follows her back to her native Stockholm when she returns for a job. Moving halfway around the world with a new love is a huge step and Bruce, with no job, friends or real clue about what he is getting himself into, is quick to face the many unique challenges and culture clashes that living in a foreign land presents — most notably, how to win over Emma’s strange and very Swedish family. From Bruce’s comical struggles to learn the language to his exploits behind the wheel of a Swedish car, run-ins at the immigration office and with his celebrity clientele, WELCOME TO SWEDEN reveals itself to be “romantically old-fashioned… and delightfully weird”.
Making his acting debut, Greg stars in the series along with Bornebusch, and Lena Olin (Chocolat, The Ninth Gate ) as Emma’s therapist mother Viveka, retired sea captain father, Birger (Claes Månsson), and Illeana Douglas ( Easy to Assemble, Grace of My Heart ) and Patrick Duffy (“Dallas”) as Bruce’s parents. They’re joined in the inaugural season by guest stars Amy Poehler, Aubrey Plaza, Will Ferrell and Gene Simmons, who make guest appearances as themselves in this series predominately shot on location in Stockholm.