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'THE OFFICE' GOES SWEDISH
‘Sweden is the most PC country in the world’
Swedish comedian Henrik Dorsin claims he has the head of a Bond villain

‘Sweden is the most PC country in the world’

Published: 10 Feb 2012 15:33 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Feb 2012 15:33 GMT+01:00

Two days before the premiere of ‘Kontoret’, the Swedish version of The Office, The Local's Oliver Gee chats with the cast about the show, their goals, and whether Sweden needs its own version of a show that's already proved to be a winning concept worldwide.

“I didn't go in with the expectation of making something as extraordinary as the British version,” says Björn Gustafsson, playing “Viking”, better known to English speaking viewers as Gareth or Dwight.

“We don’t even have 10 percent of the originality of the Gervais version, we know that, but this is funny in another kind of way”.

Gustafsson, 25, was voted Sweden's funniest man in 2008, and plays an irritating co-worker with delusions of grandeur, and self-proclaimed military expertise gained from a few years in the Home Guard.

Meanwhile, Henrik Dorsin, in a direct reprisal of the hugely popular Ove Sundberg character from Swedish sitcom Solsidan, will be playing the dreaded boss.

According to Dorsin, Sweden's quite specific social values bring a lot to the table that other countries haven't offered.

“Sweden is the most politically correct country in the world,” he tells The Local.

“You can’t say anything in Sweden without offending people, and that creates a very tense environment.

“We’re remaking the show because it’s a very good concept, and there are things in Sweden that are considered awkward which are not so embarrassing in English, and vice versa. There are aspects of Swedish mentality that apply very well to this setting.”

At the press premiere of episode one, the show itself was certainly familiar, a blend of the gags from the US version and the cringe-worthiness of the British.

This, according to Gustafsson, is exactly what the producers were aiming for.

“This is the 23 minute version. The Office was shown on the British public service channel BBC two, but ours is on a commercial channel – so it’s about selling. The show is sniffing its way toward becoming a sitcom compared the British version, but what we do have is a very well-known and very great cast,” he tells The Local.

“In terms of originality, the American version got its own life in the 2nd or 3rd season. We do that a lot earlier. It becomes something else pretty quickly.”

In terms of Dorsin’s revival of the Ove Sundberg character, the grafting was seamless – Ove Sundberg was born to run the ‘Svensk Kontorshygien AB’.

Dorsin himself believes the character is so popular because it reflects the Swedish psychology, even if the people on the street don’t realize it.

“Loads of people are approaching me in the streets, saying my phrases,” Dorsin says, letting a low “tjenare mannen” roll off his tongue in pensive retrospection (‘hey man’, a treasured catchphrase from Solsidan that sneaks early into the first episode of Kontoret).

“As for Ove, I like to quote Anthony Hopkins from the movie 'Nixon', when he played Nixon himself: ‘When they see Kennedy, they see who they want to be. When they see me, they see who they are’. Ove reflects the lowest part of the Swedish mentality."

As for the future, Dorsin is happy to see where Kontoret goes, and the next season of Solsidan is underway. However, both Dorsin and Gustafsson admit that they're setting their sights even higher.

“My dream role is a Bond villain – I have the head!” Dorsin says, to the amusement of his younger co-star Gustafsson, who is quick to add:

“If you’re the villain, then I’d have to be Bond”.

“Kontoret” launches the first of the eight-episode series at 8pm on Sunday on TV4.

Oliver Gee (oliver.gee@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:55 February 10, 2012 by RobinHood
A The Office type parody of Swedish political correctness will be a disaster. Swedes will not understand they are watching an ironic comical parody, and will mistake it for the real thing.

When it comes to political correctness in Sweden, comedy and real life are indistinguishable.
17:39 February 10, 2012 by Indignerad
I don't think our culture is very tense at all. Just be nice to people, like you're supposed to, and nobody gets offended. Is it really that hard to not be a douche?
18:03 February 10, 2012 by irridium
Can PC just FO and die already?? If your offended by something, grow thicker skin...
18:06 February 10, 2012 by raandy
I am so sick of "PC" lets just call a spade a spade and live in the real world.Let all the fairyland folks go to Fariytopia.
18:22 February 10, 2012 by howoldareyou
Isn't calling a spade a spade the origin of the PC disaster?
22:02 February 10, 2012 by dogtom
RobinHood - When The Office was first shown in Britain, many viewers DID indeed initially confuse it for a real docu-soap. I'm sure if that were to also happen here it would be taken by the producers as a massive compliment and a sure sign that they've got it absolutely right. However I fear the presence of faces very familiar to Swedish viewers will prevent this from happening.

I'm looking forward to seeing it. See everyone back here on Monday for a critique?
22:45 February 10, 2012 by Dr. Dillner
. . . and we are the worse-off for it too.
23:02 February 10, 2012 by philster61
Add "boring"
01:04 February 11, 2012 by Smiling Canuk
Great show - both the British and American versions. If the Swedes don't bust a gut laughing when watching then they really don't have a sense of humour.
05:03 February 11, 2012 by phil23456
Political correctness is un democratic because it stops people debating and limits free speech. It's a one way ticket to communism or nationalism
10:18 February 11, 2012 by BobBob
Irridium:

You say "just be nice to people". I live in a village in England, near Oxford, where people say "good morning" to each other (and that includes strangers!) as they pass in the street. Try doing that in Sweden. The first problem encountered is Swedish people will not make eye contact. And if you do meet their eyes you will get an embarrassed mumbled reply and a strange look. The Swedes have been taught to keep themselves to themselves so being nice to strangers is difficult. It's easy to be nice to ones you love and know well. The test is, can you say good morning to a stranger with no more motive than being nice and friendly.
13:07 February 11, 2012 by sleezypornorangutang
I´m gonna give you some PC:

First of all, nobody, and I mean NOBODY respects Sweden. Sweden is the joke everywhere on this globe.

Swedes are absolutely incapable of behaving in a respectable manner, after having a few drinks. They destroy everything, and become so annoying, even a peaceful, everyday citicens may resort to murder, as it becomes totally impossible to take.

Swedes are the worst racists I have EVER met.

Yet, Swedes dangle their ar*se in ANY direction to get it, just to receive a paycheck.

That´s Sweden for ya.
15:07 February 11, 2012 by Ninsu
Apparently, if you want to confound PC with simple rudeness and bad behaviour, you need not look further than to your nearest commentary field to random news web site.

Good afternoon to you dear fellow readers!
15:43 February 11, 2012 by sleezypornorangutang
To this date, I have not been in a land, that where I work in, and the people come and praise me like Jesus, yet, they think I´m a crook, representative of some minority, an alcohlic, child molester or whatever you want.

This does not happen elswhere. I´m a Jesus, and I´m a child molester all in one package.

If I was Muslim, I can only imagine.
15:47 February 11, 2012 by Frobobbles
I don't understand how you can make a swedish The Office. The original is about a boss in middle management that is stupid, arrogant, egocentric, sexist and racist in a way that is simply not ever accepted in swedish society.

To make something even slightly similar, one would have to construct a boss that is feminist in the crazy swedish feminazi way, or that refuses to even talk about any problem related to immigration and integration. But noone in sweden would dare do a product like that.
18:31 February 11, 2012 by BobBob
My apologies to 'Irridium":

my reply was meant for "Indignerad"
19:27 February 11, 2012 by Kublai
@sleezypornorangutang

At least you made me smile. You must have had some horrible experiences here. I can't even imagine what you've been through. I am surprised you're still here (or maybe you've left the country?) I agree that there is a snobbishness and besserwisser attitude in Sweden that you're hard pressed to find anywhere else but less of backstabbing than in for example US and UK. The saddest thing about Sweden though is that they believe in everything the authorities and media tell them, even if they officially deny that, and when they are upset about something they never do anything about it. If they don't agree with the governments politics they don't demonstrate or strike or anything, they just take it up the arse.
20:44 February 11, 2012 by sleezypornorangutang
Kublai:

If that made you smile, try this:

Type in you tube "kummeli the world in flames."
04:32 February 12, 2012 by Marc the Texan
Unfortunately this headline is probably true. The only way to take on political correctness is to speak out with political incorrectness. Don't confuse political correctness with being polite. Political correctness is essentially a fear of dissent. A hope for a quiet life and living with two feet in one shoe in avoidance of confrontation. Be genuine, honest and make a strong case for your dissenting views when you have them. It will probably fall to the Anglo-Saxon community in Sweden to make any progress against overzealous political correctness. Combating excessive political correctness doesn't mean you have to fight on every front, but when you feel strongly about what may be a minority position, don't shrink from it.
11:26 February 13, 2012 by rise
@ sleezypornorangutang

Where are YOUR respectable manners!? And rasists? Have someone been mean against your skin's color? Oh, poor skin-color.
09:43 February 14, 2012 by jamesblish
65% of the people in this commentary field are idiots.
12:47 February 14, 2012 by Streja
A lot of Americans and Brits who move to Sweden live in Stockholm. Therefore they think that Swedes don't say hello to strangers in the street. Well I grew up in a small place in Sweden and we always say hello to each other in the street.

Jamesblish is right hehe. :)

As for not complaining or doing anything, Swedes do that a lot. You jus can't see it because you don't know Swedish or don't know how to complain yourself as you're an immigrant.
18:13 February 15, 2012 by cogito
"...when they are upset about something they never do anything about it." (#17)

Complain? Why would Swedes complain? They've been indoctrinated to believe that Sweden Is Best.

The only things Swedes complain about is others complaining.

Especially if those others doing the complaining complaining happen to be non-Swedes. (e.g. #21 and 22).
09:57 February 17, 2012 by Buckshot
Political correctness can suck my ......... you know what. I hate this country and its people, and will leave it for the vultures as soon as i can. From a "Svenne".
03:00 February 18, 2012 by Sushiw
I find if you say hello, my fellow Swede will do likewise. I love Sweden. I didn't want to leave. But since the government have forbidden homeschooling, we decided we have to or comply with the state. It is a sad fact. I know for a fact many swedes rise up and are doing battle with this in the political sphere, my husband for one. I know many families have had to leave to be able to have the freedom they are no longer allowed to have in their own country. This is today's Sweden. If we don't know history we are doomed to repeat it. Human rights are being taken from families that are willing to give all to their kids. A choice not to be part of the standardized system or rat race as I like to call it. To be outside the box in Sweden is dangerous. I love Sweden and the people that I now call my own. I love the culture and my kids will learn to respect this and people of all cultures, but I won't allow them to be brainwashed, in any school system. The choices they make will come from real life experience. The toad in the luke warm water doesn't know it will die, it is gradual and then possibly too late. I miss Sweden and the life I would love to have lived there in our cottage amongst great neighbours, nature and wonderful sport clubs. But not for us at the moment. I find another alternative, just roll up my sleeves and get on with it and it will be good. Just done through lack of choice.
21:59 February 19, 2012 by Parzival
I dont understand how political correctness can be unique for the swedish version the office since that is what makes the US version so fun!
22:20 March 4, 2012 by Martin83
hahaha have you all googled Swedish stereotypes? Try visiting the country ( and with country I don't mean Stockholm) before you act like doctorands in Swedish culture, behavior and social life.

If you say you have visited Sweden but still feel the stereotypes fits. Then you're either a poor travel planner or there's something seriously wrong with your cognitive abilities :D
08:00 March 12, 2012 by Gjeebes
"You can't say anything in Sweden without offending people, and that creates a very tense environment": yes, because you break the sought after "equality" by thinking for yourself and calling a spade a spade. Ever been in a meeting with Swedes? When some problem is addressed, the room gets pretty quiet. It's half the source of all problems in the country because people won't speak up about anything. But find some pointless "new and progress" "idea" to implement, and you'll have pointless discussion for months. Classical way to shift focus away from important issues. Land of the indecisive, that way when it all goes tits up, no one will be in the hot seat. I guess when everyone is staring at each other at the "bottom", they will realise that re-inventing the wheel gets them nowhere (i.e. we already know in order to make everything equal, you have to cater to the lowest rung...you can bring people down to some level, you cannot bring them upwards). Its interesting to see how poorly this capital-socialism social experiment called Sweden doesn't work. Maybe if they weren't so worried about what the guy next to them thought, they would actually do something about it. There are "discussions" going on here regarding social issues that were sorted out in the 70's in other countries. Way to go you uptighties, keep on trying to make your square wheel round!!
14:13 March 13, 2012 by edphillis
Im sorry are we talking about Sweden here or somewhere that doesn't consistently rank in the top places to live in terms of equality, healthcare, education, social inclusion, childhood welfare, care of the elderly, union representation, cultural freedom, technological research, fresh air, renewable energies...oh no you're right. Sweden is a right sh*thole. And the people - complete wa*kers. It's tantamount to a living hell. If it wasn't for a well paid job, the cross country skiing, the lakes and forests, beautiful women, a relaxed atmosphere, friends, intelligent discourse, excellent mountain biking and the extensive cultural scene I'd be straight out of here and on my way to Bosnia for the high life.
09:49 March 16, 2012 by Ron Pavellas
I've lived in Stockholm for almost 10 years and like it, and the country as a whole, very much. I'm from California--married to a Swede, of course. I can only wonder about the life experiences of those in this forum who have shown a distaste, or even hatred, for Swedes and Sweden. I wonder about their expectations if they have been disappointed (assuming they are from another country). As for any Swede who hates his country, I guess it's fortunate we are in the EU and can live elsewhere, relatively easily. The cultural and economic differences between, say, California and Sweden are as nothing compared to differences of either country (or US state) with many other countries and regions.
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