Popping over the border to visit a fellow expat in Sweden in this part-biopic TV Series…
Greg Poehler stars in his autobiographical comedy on life as an expat.
Welcome to Sweden Trailer HD – Available on icflix, icflix
Welcome to Sweden (2014) is the penultimate of my Cinema Shame posts. And this not the series I reviewed with Richard Kiel and Verne Troyer of the same name (as reviewed HERE). The to be reviewed Welcome to Sweden is a Swedish sitcom with an American twist. The twist being that the cast was made up of both Swedish and American actors, and both Swedish and English languages used. This use of Swedish language at the insistence of one of the writers, Greg Poehler. In an interview with TV Guide saying;
“I want it to be real and sweet and funny, in that order. I hate watching shows that are set in another country where they’re speaking with an accent but in English. Drives me nuts watching that,” Poehler said. “I feel like we should have moved on as a society by now where we can at least play it real.”
The show has subtitles for both for the benefit for all viewers. And filmed naturally in Sweden.
Sadly, despite a successful first series, the show was cancelled mid way through the second series. But the entire Season 2 was filmed, and can be viewed, bought or rented. However, for expats everywhere – and not just Sweden – it’s definitely worth a look for Greg Poehler’s outstandingly accurate role as an expat, a unique script in both Swedish and English and an understanding and insight of the realities of expat life for you, your loved one and your families.
So had you asked me as an expat for a uniquely Realweegiemidget inspirational film, TV or book hero before seeing this series, it would have been hard to find. It’s easy to find an inspirational hero as I already reviewed one, this being one Randle P McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975). More on this wonderful hero played by Oscar-winning Jack Nicholson and the movie are found in one of my much earlier posts. McMurphy inspiring my career choice as after seeing this film I chose a career in mental health. Where I took a McMurphy view of the inpatients as people first and foremost. And not liking the approach of Nurse Ratched at all and more of this rant HERE...
But where to find an expat inspirational character. When I moved here as an expat girlfriend (now wife) to Finland, my Darlin Husband told me this was actually the subject of a book. So, I started reading said book. This on a character who was also an expat wife and stepmum living in Finland. The book named Stepping by Nancy Thayer. However, I went off the main character Zelda after she confessed about possibly starting an affair. This put me off this character, as a loved up gal. And this potential story line really, really, really pissed me off. So much so I stopped reading it. This plot device also reminded me of fodder many an 80s mini series. So apologies, if I missed a good book after this.
Recalling other expats in other countries, a 1980s made for TV movie was remembered with Dynasty‘s Linda Evans. Here Linda Evans moves to Australia to be with her beloved, in the outback, only to find he died before she got off the plane. I don’t remember the rest of this series, let alone the title but I assume she met and fell in love with the country and a 1980s Bryan Brown, in that order. Anyway more about that other Evans, Bruce and the hero of this piece.
Bruce is the lead character of the hit comedy TV series Welcome to Sweden. He’s an American accountant to the stars and played by Greg Poehler. This two season series based on his own expat experiences in Sweden, with Poehler leaving America to start a new life with his Swedish gal in Sweden. Making him the perfect choice. The series written by Greg Poehler, his co-star Josephine Bornebusch – who plays his girlfriend in the show – and Nicolas Carlsson. And if you recognise Greg’s surname, he’s Amy’s wee brother.
In the first season, first episode Bruce gives up his successful career and leaves his friends and family behind for the love of a good Swedish woman. We find out the reaction of his family later in the show and that of his clients. This echoing my own experience with my now Darlin Husband. Sweden – for the geographically inept – is literally just over the border for me here in Finland. And it is not a Caribbean island like an old colleague believed. This TV series was initially discovered by Darlin Husband, and this fish out of water story pertinent to us both. And for me with the bonus of Dallas’ Patrick Duffy who appears later in the series as Bruce’s father, Wayne.
The series struck a chord with me due to Poehler’s empathetic and inspiring performance to expats everywhere. For this review I’m writing on the 10 part, first season set in the summer, a time many of my fellow expats moved here. It shows him in the first episode talking to real life sister, Amy Poehler that he’s in love and moving to Sweden. And follows these first moments as he becomes an expat, this a nice touch as we feels we are moving there with him. The series then showing him experiencing culture shock and him gradually being accepted by girlfriend’s Emma’s family.
He’s met at the airport by his girlfriend, Emma (Josephine Bornebusch). She introduces him to her homeland and culture. But with him there’s a job with an added touch of Hollywood. Many of the guest stars are big names in Hollywood and beyond. With stars including Will Ferrell and his Swedish wife, the singer Gene Simmonds and actress Malin Akerman and the dudes from ABBA. Björn Ulvaeus, and Björn Ranelid. Big sister, Amy Poehler herself makes an appearance as does Aubrey Plaza her co-star in Parks and Recreation (2009-15).
Bruce and Emma stay with her family in their summer-house when they first move there. The loved up couple lives with them temporarily while they get a flat elsewhere. Her family includes her outspoken mother, Viveka Börjesson (Lena Olin) and the men in the family. He meets her mild-mannered, quiet (and tall) father Birger Wiik (Claes Månsson), her American film loving Uncle Bengt (Per Svensson) and her kinda crazy but caring brother, Gustav (Christopher Wagelin).
Viveka feels he’s not good enough for her daughter with him giving up his successful career in America and worse still that he’s too short for her (totally emphasis here Greg!!). Bruce finds the men friendlier towards him. Her brother quite chatty and her uncle obsessed with American pop culture through the movies he rents from his video store.
Many of Greg’s experiences are silmilar to my own, such as foods such as cream and cinnamon buns, learning to go fully nude in saunas, expat problems such as finding a job and learning a new language in the immigrant Swedish language courses. With these experiences written about in a way that I and many expats over here would remember too well. During the series, Bruce is visited by his parents with his father Wayne played by Patrick Duffy and his wife. Sadly not Victoria Principal but Illeana Douglas as Bruce’s mother Nancy. Poehler speaks about Patrick Duffy’s casting in the same article referenced earlier saying;
Patrick Duffy is still the most famous guy in Sweden,” Poehler explained, noting the continuing bizarre popularity of Dallas in the country. “Walking around with him was an experience,” he recalled. “He loved it too. I think it’s been a long time since he’s got that sort of adoration … He was readily admitting that he wanted to go around and get recognized. It was very cute.
I’ve still to see the second series of this show, this time set as winter arrives in Sweden. But knowing just how long and cold these winters can be, and just how much you miss these folks and food back home. I’m sure Greg would agree, these mean everything but as for good old romantic love, there are many things you do for love, like moving to a Scandinavian Country…
Weeper Rating: 0 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: /10
Bonus Trailer: No
This post was written for the tenth of my Cinema Shame posts. Greg Poehler also stars in my review of this show, HERE but concentrating on Patrick Duffy. Lena Olin stars in Chocolat. Patrick Duffy stars in may review of Dallas, the Christmas tag post on the 12 Days of Dallas, the final episode Conundrum. He also stars in this post about 5 of his performances. Malin Akerman stars in Rock of Ages.