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US gives mixed reviews to Swedish sitcom

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.

US gives mixed reviews to Swedish sitcom
Greg Poehler in a scene from Welcome to Sweden. Photo: David Einar/TV4

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.

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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ISRAEL

Sweden may cut aid to Palestinian territories

Development aid minister Gunilla Carlsson has said that the Swedish government may reduce development assistance for the Palestinians since they have failed to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

Sweden may cut aid to Palestinian territories

Sweden donates 700 million kronor ($107 million) annually to the West Bank and Gaza. Carlsson told Sveriges Radio (SR) that the government is now considering cutting the 200 million kronor earmarked for social development.

Carlsson said that the premise of Swedish development assistance for the West Bank and Gaza has been to strengthen the Palestinians’ position in negotiations for a two-state solution that could lead to peace with the Israelis.

She suggested that money targeted at capacity building is going to waste since neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis are willing to participate in peace negotiations.

Carlsson asked: “Is it worth continuing developing the prerequisites for a two-state solution if Israel and the Palestinians themselves do not want to sit down at the negotiating table?”

“I don’t want to haggle with Swedish aid money, but I can only take the perspective of the Swedish taxpayer. One wants results. And if there are no chances of results, then we must take the consequences of that,” Carlsson said.

The Social Democrats condemned the proposal and the Left Party called it a “provocation”.

“To drop the Palestinians in the way that the government is now considering doing is wrong,” said the Social Democrats’ aid policy spokesman Kenneth G Forslund.

The Left Party’s aid policy spokesman Hans Linde argued that Carlsson’s suggestion is “absolutely the wrong way to go” and added that Sweden should actually increase humanitarian aid and support for Palestinian state building.

“Because of Israel’s occupation we can see how the needs for foreign support and development assistance in the Palestinian territories actually grows,” said Linde.

Carlsson’s comments came just after her return from a three-day visit to the Palestinian territories and Israel.

She met local politicians, civil society actors and representatives of international organizations to discuss Sweden’s involvement in the peace process and support for the Palestinians.

TT/The Local/nr

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