The real-life murder of a Swedish prime minister isn't an obvious subject for a comedy series, but that's exactly the concept of dark comedy We Got This, about an American expat in Sweden who tries to solve the country's best known cold case.
Schiaffino Musarra, the 47-year-old American actor and screenwriter behind the show, has managed to make it in Sweden's TV scene despite breaking the number one rule of success in Sweden: 'learn the language'. This is reflected in the show's protagonist George English, who insists on speaking English throughout — even though his family and all the other characters speak to him almost exclusively in Swedish.
“The whole goal was to present that as if it were normal, right? Because for me, it is normal,” Musarra tells The Local. “I'm a lot like the character in the show, in that I understand about 90 percent of the speech that is coming at me. But I just can't find the words in my head to reply in Swedish.”
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Musarra has been living in Sweden for 14 years, but has never mastered the language. Despite this, He managed to raise 40m kronor (€4 million) to get We Got This made.
The show follows English's attempt to solve the murder of former prime minister Olof Palme, who in 1986 was shot dead in central Stockholm by an unknown gunman after visiting the cinema. In real life, the case was formally closed earlier this year, with police naming a now-deceased man as the likely killer.
Musarra's show coincidentally aired around the same time as the much-anticipated prosecutors' announcement. He says this timing helped it perform well and sell internationally, but he sees getting the show made in the first place as his biggest achievement.
“For me, the viewing numbers are kind of irrelevant,” he says. “Because, you know, having made a show that for the better part of a decade I was being told couldn't be made, and then to turn around and make it, and sell it to the rest of the world, I'm already dining out on that press release.”
According to Schiaffino Musarra, the series is also about a foreigner struggling to adjust to Sweden. Photo: Private
The show depicts the struggles foreigners face adapting to Sweden while also gently poking fun at Swedes themselves, making it likely to strike a chord with international residents.
The official trailer for We Got This does not feature the near-exhumation of Sweden's former prime minister. Photo: SVT
He does speak Swedish in his latest acting role however, as hotel manager Ronny Hazelwood in the upcoming Swedish children's film LasseMaja, which will air on Sweden's Cmore/TV4 channels around Christmas.
“It takes me twice as long to prepare for a role in Swedish. I can do it, but it just takes more time for me to get it right. But nobody's calling me because they think I'm gonna pass as a Swede. The only reason somebody wants me to speak Swedish is for comedic purposes.”
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