Welcome to Sweden: Why the new sitcom sucks

Maybe you heard that Sweden’s TV4 is airing a sitcom called Welcome to Sweden about an American guy who falls in love with a hot Swedish woman and leaves his great job in NYC to move to Stockholm?

Well, that’s pretty much my story about moving to Sweden. Except that I moved from New Jersey and had no job or money when I moved here. On the other hand, my Swedish wife IS hot, so there’s one similarity.

Welcome to Sweden disappoints

In one of the opening scenes, the Swedish customs agent looks through every last inch of the American guy’s baggage and asks him a bunch of tough questions.

That cliche is ridiculous. Sweden may have the most friendly customs agents in the world – in many ways they act exactly the opposite of the customs agents any foreigner will have to face upon entering America.

This would have been funnier

The guy walks up to the customs booth . He looks around, and waits a while, but he can’t find anyone. Then he sees them off in a room to the side eating fika — cinnamon buns and coffee. They’re taking their union protected break.

Then a super nice customs agent comes out and welcomes him to Sweden in a very friendly and pro-American way (because Swedes love America).

“Where do you come from?” he asks. “Oh, I love the New York Rangers,” he says in a thick Swedish accent. “I am going to Manhattan this summer and we are planning on going up to Harlem to eat pulled pork.” (The number one Google search term for food in Sweden in 2013 was “Pulled Pork” — they can’t get enough of it.)

The actual and realistic cultural differences between Americans and Swedes are enough to make people laugh.

My wife and I got married in Sweden. Our wedding was the real version of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”.

Her blonde-haired, blue-eyed, parents had the fear of death in their eyes as we tossed them up in the air on chairs during the Hava Nagila. They grew up in the classiest of neighborhoods in Stockholm, and had the right last names, and know how to use a fork and knife.

My East Coast Jewish parents — both second-generation immigrants who grew up barely middle class, with little money, fewer manners, and the complete inability to use a knife together with a fork — talked too much, too loud and had a hard time trying to understand why Swedes didn’t talk much at all.

Welcome to Sweden has broken through barriers but the writers failed to capitalize on the hysterical things that happen when these two cultures clash.

It’s the first sitcom with a lot of English ever aired on Swedish TV and will be interesting to see how it does. Now I understand that NBC in the United States has bought the rights to the show. That’s even more interesting.

I will, however, have to watch one more episode when my man Will Farrell makes a guest appearance.

I know I’ve been tearing it up, but for those of you thinking about moving to Sweden to make a go of it, I suggest watching Welcome to Sweden. While it’s not too realistic, it may help with your Swedish language skills.

And truth be told, I’ve seen worse sitcoms.

Let me know: Have you seen it? What did you think?


5 Replies to “Welcome to Sweden: Why the new sitcom sucks”

  1. I guess I kinda agree with some’a your points…but I moved to Ã…land (via Sweden) in ’85 from CT, and still, every time I go through…more passport control than customs, I guess… I find myself being grilled just like in the show. Every time. And they hate my “permanent uppehÃ¥llstillstÃ¥nd utfärdade av Finland”.
    But, I dunno, the show’s characters are more caricature than real-life, stereotypical things exaggerated for the comic aspect, so I’m gonna keep watching, and being envious of not thinking of the premise myself… It beats Swedish reality TV, anyway…

  2. Well, my 15 y:o son and I enjoy it a lot! Saying to a Swede at fika “No thanks, I hate cinnamon” and seeing the reactions or “When do you have time to relax?” (That’s not what a summer house is for!!)
    Hilarious. We love to hate ourselves I guess 😉
    I never went to SFI, but it looks a lot like I’ve heard it described, so it can’t be that far off allowing for some poetic licence and so on.

  3. I watched many of the trailers and have watched the first episode. Not living in Sweden I still am aware of much of the stereo type being used for comedic value. Perhaps the humor hit a little to close to home? I thought it was funny. Cant wait for it to show here in the States. Am curious how US TV censors will handle any cussing and or nudity as seen in the first episode.
    I too had a BFGW ,uptight English marries into a loud French/Irish family…lol

    Cheers, opa, SkÃ¥l/L’chaim, A votre sante/Sláinte

  4. I totally agree on your take on this show – it was so disappointing, I wanted to love it! To be fair, it was funny at times, but it felt to me more like a collection of gags than a story, and it frustrated me that the writing seemed kind of lazy at times – like the scene you described above. Also the fact that Bruce was allegedly so broke that his card was declined buying fika, but then he survived the rest of the season without earning any more money and even flew to the US and back… which might cost more than a fika in some central Stockholm cafes, but still 😉

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