Welcome to Sweden: Did Greg Poehler's NBC Comedy Make You Say 'Ja'?

Welcome to Sweden Series Premiere

A wise man once said, “I would do anything for love… but I won’t do that.” (And don’t you tell me Meat Loaf isn’t wise.)

On NBC’s freshman comedy Welcome to Sweden, which debuted Thursday at 9/8c, it seems our protagonist Bruce should have taken those words to heart.

Based on the life of executive producer and star Greg Poehler, Sweden finds Bruce uprooting his life and relocating to Sweden to spend more time with his wife, rather than capitalizing on his lucrative career as a celebrity accountant in the United States. (Clients include Greg’s real-life big sis, Amy — you may have heard of her? — who hilariously appears as herself, only way more snobby and obsessed with her iPhone.)

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Of course, once Bruce joins wife Emma (played by Swedish actress Josephine Bornebusch) in her native land, it turns out her place is getting renovated, and they’re forced to live with Emma’s parents for two weeks — parents who, as Emma describes them, are “so Swedish.”

Enter Emma’s family members, who are all at once traditional and quirky Swedes: There’s mom Viveka (Lena Olin, Alias), whose first of many problems with Bruce is his height, or lack thereof. (“Average height? No way. Maybe if you include children and Asian people.”) There’s dad Birger (played by Swedish actor Claes Mansson), whose interaction with non-Swedish-speaking Bruce is basically reduced to sighs and the occasional “Yes.” And rounding out the clan is Emma’s slacker brother, Gustav, and America-obsessed uncle, Bengt.

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During Bruce’s first day in Sweden, Emma’s family forces a number of traditions on him, including knocking back shots first thing in the morning and hitting the sauna for a naked sweat sesh after dinner. (Yes, that entire last sentence is accurate, I promise.) And, as it’s revealed throughout the episode, Bruce and Emma’s stories of their first date don’t exactly line up; she remembers an enchanted evening at a romantic restaurant, while he was so wasted, he can barely remember how gross the dive bar was.

In fact, Bruce and Emma seem so inherently different on every level that rooting for their relationship isn’t always easy during the premiere. But when the two have a heart-to-heart on the dock during sunset, you can’t help but get the feeling that everything’s going to be all right. All told, Sweden‘s peculiar ensemble cast and chuckle-worthy one-liners make the show a charming summertime treat.

That’s what we thought, but what’s your take? Grade the series premiere via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Lola says:

    I think the subtitles are going to be a problem for people like me who listen more than watch.

    • Tom Charles says:

      Yeah, that’s one of the problems I have with The Americans. I get behind because I find it difficult to give the necessary time to be able to sit and pay enough attention to read

      • Mel says:

        That’s because Americans, especially those under 35, don’t read, unless it’s in 140-character snippets.

  2. Rod says:

    I really liked it, the scenes between the couple were funny and beliveable, i didnt mind the subtitles at all, it makes it more real and i respect that.
    I’ll watch again

  3. April says:

    Honestly I kind of enjoyed how the comments forced me to watch, instead of multitasking. It was a fine way to spend half an hour. Only complaint was the commercials seemed to be awkwardly placed.

    • Totally agree…I kept saying “Why did it cut that scene with a commercial?!”

    • kelly says:

      In Sweden there is only one commercial break right in the middle. What you saw was just the usual timetable of commercials as seen in north America.

      Stick with this show. The swedish actress is about to break through into international cinema, and the experiences of Greg Poehler are incredibly realistic. Take this from one who knows :)

      I’ve seen the whole season and I laughed throughout.

      Yes, there are subtitles, which means you have to pay attention. Not the end of the world though right?

      • Susan says:

        Well, not the end of the world, but the end of me watching it! It isn’t GOOD enough to be FORCED to sit and watch and READ!!!!!!!

  4. Anne says:

    So many things here remind me of my Swedish in-laws and friends – the summer house, singing “helan gar” while drinking, the one in the group obsessed with American culture. Loved it!

  5. Jill says:

    It was ok. Not awful. I laughed a few times, but maybe it felt a little too Swedish. Also, I love Amy Poehler, but I can’t imagine evoking my more famous sister’s name that many times in something that is supposed to be my project.

  6. Ugh. says:

    Really, really, really… not funny.

  7. Lynn martin says:

    Distracted by all the commercials. Concept cute and different.

  8. Truefan says:

    The show had me laughing all the way through. I liked the fact that it was filmed in Sweden, used Swedish actors and the Swedish language. Subtitles are no problem. The show was fresh and original. I enjoyed learning about another country in such a humorous way!

  9. Bruce Hood says:

    Great fun, and charming look at moving into another culture! I have always enjoyed many films from other countries with subtitles and even foung that added to the charm and authenticity of this show… looking forward to future episodes. ( I am a retired theatre arts professor and actor, with a very wide range of eclectic tastes )

  10. EB says:

    I think it’s worth another look; I’ll watch it again next week. I think the subtitles will disappear over time, or at least be used less often.

  11. NoMore Babs says:

    Couldn’t watch it all the way to the end, longest 13 minutes of my life. No Thnaks

  12. Tic tic tic says:

    For those complaining about the subtitles I highly recommend that you stop watching now because they are not going away at all. I actually found out about the show a few days ago and it sounded like something i would enjoy so I watched every episode on hulu plus. It is a funny show with a good cast. And my favorite part was actually the fact that they spoke in swedish so much, because it made it feel authentic. It is a swedish show and it is surprising that So many people have a problem with it using that country’s language so often. That’s kind of expected from a show produced and aired Mainly for swedish audiences. Averall the show is great and has many funny moments. I would recomended

  13. Susannah says:

    I’m going to give it another week because I liked the actors (love. Lena Olin) and the look of the show is so different than what I usually watch. The problem for me is that although the show is charming, it’s incredibly bland and not very funny. Hopefully it gets better next week.

  14. Roger Canada says:

    The only thing funny about that show is that NBC made all the TV promos only with the cameo of Amy Poehler and Will Ferrer

  15. Tee says:

    My best friend lives over in Sweden now, where it’s already aired, and loves it. Honestly the promos didn’t seem interesting at all, I had forgotten it was even starting finally.

  16. CoryRox says:

    I thought it was a cute show and I found myself chuckling quite a few times. Definitely awkward commercial placement, but overall I enjoyed it. Also, anyone else notice that Greg Poehler looks like Greg Kinnear??

    • Grey says:

      Yes! Omg, I thought it was just me. LOL!. They look so much alike (and very similar mannerism too!) that I think they should get together and do something. They could totally play brothers.

    • Like father & son! The first time he did something Kinnear-like i started watching Poehler more closely & it’s uncanny how much he’s like Kinnear – like they must be related. Cats out of the bag? If I keep watching, this will be why.

  17. Carl says:

    I liked it a lot. It was entertaining, and there were a few laugh-inducing moments. It’s not great, but it’s certainly good.

  18. Betty Theiss says:

    I watch mainly cable so the commercials were driving me nuts. But I did enjoy the ten minutes or so of the show.

  19. Francesca says:

    I’m half Swedish and I found this empty and frankly Greg Poehler isn’t much of an actor. Enough with the blonde hair – most Swedes are not blonde! I don’t have a problem with subtitles – but the entire show was weak!!! Nepotism is alive and well obviously.

  20. Ugh says:

    Yeah. I’m pretty sure they aren’t married. You may want to double check that.

  21. Grey says:

    “Welcome to Sweden: Did Greg Poehler’s NBC Comedy Make You Say ‘Ja’?”


  22. Zach says:

    I never multi task while watching TV, so I was absolutely fine with the subtitles. Better than not understanding what was going on.

  23. TeeVeeViewer says:

    WTS wasn’t funny and it didn’t hold my interest for more than ten minutes. I won’t watch it again.

  24. Karin says:

    Loved this show (half Swedish) but it seemed the commercials logged in more air time than the actual show – I think this will turn off a lot of viewers.

  25. Jonathan says:

    First episode was really disappointing. Not terribly funny and the main character is kind of a dull, blank slate (he doesn’t seem to know much of anything nor does he display any particular interests or personality). Might give it one more shot.

  26. Aaron says:

    Awful commercial break timing. They cut off in the middle of jokes and quickly return back the story. This ruins the joke. Premiere episode example, While in the sauna the Swedish family asks if all his clients will miss him, cuts to commercial, and then returns to a flashback that lasts all of 10 seconds, which was reused from footage shown earlier.
    I am in the middle of watching the second episode, and the same happened again. Very frustrating and annoying. Jokes are very slow

  27. Susan says:

    This show sucks! Who wants to READ a tv show???!!!! Even without all the subtitles, it’s a BORING show.

  28. Phil says:

    I am a American with a Swedish heritage, and I retired from a Swedish company in Stockholm. I love Sweden and Swedish people, but I wish the the American boyfriend in “Welcome To Sweden” wasn’t such an idiot loser. If the show doesn’t make it, he will be the reason.

  29. Jeff says:

    Having lived in Sweden also as an American middle aged male with Swedish lineage I’m embarrassed among other things by the depiction of this American boyfriend who is somehow supposed to keep us interested and / or humoured so far merely by his entitled attitude and willful ignorance of his new country’s culture. After enjoying both seasons of Netflix’ very original “Lillyhammer”, which also featured the premise of an American expat experiencing culture shock after moving to Scandinavia (Norway), and also written and produced by the main lead actor (Stevie Van Zandt) I was initially very interested in seeing how this potentially interesting premise would work out in this new series set in Sweden.

    Unlike Lillyhammer, which actually had great character development, true cross-cultural humor, with creative plot development sucking you in one episode to the next, I’m finding WTS falling very flat. I get the little bits of cute Swedish idiosyncrasies, and the brief glimpses of ideallic Scandinavian summer scenery is more often than not spot on and lovely to take in. And though I’ve stuck with it for 4 episodes so far in case it would somehow grow on me, I’m finding Greg Poehler’s penchant for Hollywood name dropping while pretending to not be impressed by his former A-list narcissistic connections, claiming on one hand that he moved away from “all that” in order to follow his heart and start over, while whining with that wounded-puppy dog face about how different his new country is and expecting everyone there unfortunate enough to encounter him to cater to his egocentric needs one episode after the next, all while his doting, classically beautiful Swedish girlfriend somehow still maintains her unabashed affection for him and his ugly American ways while insisting she can support both of them on her own…none of this occurs to me as realistic nor particularly entertaining.

    This show represents a real missed opportunity to exploit the premise of following love into such cultural differences in a way that could be sincerely entertaining, poignant, elevating, or at least genuinely funny. That this is somehow supposed to count as comedy and has just been renewed for another season both in Sweden and the States is very telling of the state of television writing and network executive management today.

    The last few years I’ve experienced too many occasions of getting attached to a promising new network drama or sitcom featuring compelling character development, writing, and acting only to get cancelled before the end of the first season, typically despite a very strong fan base.

    I think it’s great that Mr. Poehler was moved to try a new career in “show business” and while I really don’t understand how his sister Amy, with her equally ironic portrayal of hyper-ego as funny has apparently been such a success in this industry to begin with, I don’t think the average viewer will be enriched by another Poehler in Hollywood. In light of what is on display so far, this kind of nepotism simply doesn’t justify the end result.

  30. C.M. says:

    I have many Swedish relatives in Sweden that I have met on 2 trips there. Many of the funny things you show on “Welcome to Sweden” are very true!! Looking forward to season 2.