April 08, 2014 5:22pm PT by Philiana Ng
NBC's 'Welcome to Sweden' Relies on the 'Universality' in Comedy
NBC is heading to Sweden.
Welcome to Sweden, which hits stateside in July, is an "autobiographical" half-hour comedy executive produced by siblings Amy Poehler and Greg Poehler, who also stars. The show debuted three weeks ago in its title country and has already garnered a second-season renewal by TV4.
Largely based on Greg's life (he moved to Sweden and fell in love with his now-wife), Welcome to Sweden follows Bruce, an American who moves to Stockholm with his Swedish girlfriend, and the challenges he faces adapting to a new culture. At its core, Welcome to Sweden is a "fish out of water story" and "a love story," Greg told reporters.
A lawyer for 12 years in New York and Sweden before jumping into the television game, Greg two years ago started doing stand-up comedy ("I'm like the Yakov Smirnoff in Sweden") in Sweden, which served as "a catalyst for this career change," he said. Greg later joked that one of the first things he did was Google "how to write a script."
Because the show revolves around an American and a Swede, it was crucial for Greg and the writers to "find the universality in comedy" so they didn't alienate viewers. Jokes that were exclusively funny to U.S. or Swedish sensibilities "were removed." Instead, it was Greg's mandate to "create a real romantic comedy for television," with the main characters having "to be believable and likable."
Though 90 percent of the show is set in and filmed on location in Sweden (with about one or two scenes shot in the U.S.), the bulk of the series is in English.
Cameos include Amy and Will Ferrell, with co-stars Patrick Duffy and Ileana Douglas playing Bruce's parents. With a second season already on the books -- Amy, under a rich overall deal, has hopes NBC will do the same -- Amy and Greg have their eye on a prominent Swedish family: the Skarsgards.
"We are heavily stalking them. They're staying a little Skars-guarded right now," Amy deadpanned.