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US gives mixed reviews to Swedish sitcom

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Greg Poehler in a scene from Welcome to Sweden. Photo: David Einar/TV4
10:00 CEST+02:00
The Stockholm-set comedy 'Welcome to Sweden' will premiere this week across the Atlantic, and critics Stateside haven't held back in their critique of the show.

Welcome to Sweden was broadcast on TV4 earlier this year and has since been renewed for a second season. US viewers will get a chance to see the show for themselves when it airs on NBC on July 10th as part of the network's comedy summer line-up. 

TV critic Robert Lloyd of the Los Angeles Times wrote in his review: "The premise replays countless comedies in which a person repeatedly, if not permanently, fails to impress his beloved's family (intimidating father, skeptical mother, idiot brother), but this time they are Swedish, which is different enough. Poehler, who has no previous acting experience (that I can discover) does fine."

The show stars Greg Poehler, brother of comedienne Amy Poehler, and was a ratings winner when it aired in his adopted country. He told The Local last year that it was "time the world laughed with Sweden'.

Meanwhile, David Wiegand of the Houston Chronicle said the "the only really ridiculous part about NBC's new sitcom Welcome to Sweden is that its creator and star, Greg Poehler, wants us to believe he isn't related to guest star and co-producer Amy Poehler."

He added: "The show's humour is subtle, the plot lines somewhat predictable, but both the individual character development and the interaction between those characters make this show more than welcome."

Hank Steuver of the Washington Post said the show "has a gentle, indie-cinema feel to it (think Away We Go or The Way, Way Back), full of pretty locations and awkward cross-cultural encounters as Bruce tries to find a job and adapt to Swedish living."

However, the show did come in for criticism from Bruce Miller of the Sioux City Journal who said the star cameos from Poehler's Hollywood pals weren't to his liking.

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"To work, Welcome to Sweden needs a country full of foils. Dropping in quirky performances by Will Ferrell, Gene Simmon, Patrick Duffy and Poehler’s real-life sister Amy isn’t enough to bring the funny.

"Poehler needs to be our substitute, our eyes and ears. Too often, he’s our flailing ego...'Welcome to Sweden' has the hook to pull us in. Now, it just needs a little more bait," he wrote.

Neal Justin of the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune said the amount of Swedish spoken in the show may be a deterrent for an American audience.

Summer network sitcoms rarely get blockbuster numbers, and roughly 25 percent of the dialogue is in Swedish, with English subtitles, which may be a turnoff for viewers.

"Minnesotans may be an exception — one-third of the state’s population is of Scandinavian descent," wrote the journalist.

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Rob Own of the Post Gazette agreed, saying the show was "probably a tough sell".

Welcome to Sweden was shot in Stockholm during the warm summer months and the location came in for praise by the LA times which said the show "feels like a location."

The first episode of the show was released to popular acclaim in Sweden on TV4 with 1.7 million viewers. A second series will be broadcast during 2015.  

The Local/pr

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