The summer sitcom drought has come to an end because NBC's delectable Welcome to Sweden is back to fulfill all of our feminist romantic comedy needs. From Greg Poehler (brother of Amy Poehler), Welcome to Sweden first came onto the scene last summer and instantly won our hearts, but somehow Season 2 has managed to become sharper, wittier and even more forward-thinking.
The new season picks up with Emma working hard to attain a seat on the board of the bank she works for while Bruce is still struggling to find work and adjust to life as an American in Sweden. The couple is stronger than ever, and the breathing room their stable relationship gives the show to explore new themes is a blessing.
In lesser hands, every time the show cut away from Bruce and Emma to tell a purely workplace story, it would falter, but on Welcome to Sweden, Emma's ambitious nature is the biggest draw. She goes to great lengths to assert herself when she believes her boss is trying to take credit for a report she worked on in the second half-hour, while in the first she makes friends with the new female marketing guru (who she easily could have been pitted against, but this is so not that kind of show). Her thriving, competitive work life is the show's secret weapon.
Emma is so fully realized that she steals the show right out from under the sweetly bumbling Bruce. Whether she's snatching the last piece of pie to prove a point about feminism, taking down two men who are, unbeknownst to her, part of Bruce's elaborate proposal plan or nonchalantly suggesting she and Bruce get married while brushing her teeth, Emma is all kinds of awesome. Her work-oriented mind and refusal to let anyone talk down to her puts her in Leslie Knope territory. Clearly, Poehler channels his sister when he writes.
As you might have guessed, adhering to gender norms is not part of the Welcome to Sweden experience. In contrast to Emma, Bruce is aimless and romantic. He blunders his way through giving Jason Priestley an Ingmar Bergman-themed tour of Sweden and spends an inordinate amount of time planning the perfect proposal, which Emma hilariously turned into a casual non-event.
Bruce's culture shock leads to wonderfully quirky moments as he tries to learn how to say "yes" in Swedish or bemoans his lack of a job due to the language barrier. Still, he always remains supportive of Emma and his lack of whining about her priorities sells their romance.
All of these small story points add up to big laughs. Even if you missed Season 1, there is no reason you can't dive right into Welcome to Sweden. At its heart, the show is a story about a couple from different backgrounds who are bringing their two worlds together. This under-the-radar comedy is perfect for anyone who loves romance and smart humor. There are precious few shows out there that are designed to make us laugh during the summer months, and not one of them is anything like Welcome to Sweden.
The show has created a world removed from the American setting we are accustomed to and dropped us in a culturally conscious, slice-of-life comedy about love, family and relationships. As an added bonus, the great Lena Olin (Alias) is on hand to play Emma's brutally honest, but warmhearted mother. Olin's performance adds another layer of awesome to what is already a can't-miss summer treat.
Catch up with Season 1 on Hulu or dive into Welcome to Sweden Season 2 every Sunday at 8/7c on NBC. Either way, Welcome to Sweden will be the most fun you have this summer. If NBC could only commit to airing comedies like this one in the fall, the television world would truly be a better place.
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