It has been some time now, a week, since I watched episode 3 of Welcome to Sweden. I am having to jog my memory, as I have truly managed to suppress and repress what was for the most part an agonizingly claustrophobic nightmare of willful neurosis with the frays and seams showing and thus distracting heavily from what is supposedly a sitcom or comedy on NBC.

I felt especially sorry for the actors; it is a good thing when actors work, but it is less so when they have to work very hard with material that has been given them or has not been given them. This time around it was as if someone had left out the lutefisk for five days and said, "Have at it!"


Poor Josephine Bornebusch, having to play Emma like a woman with a personality disorder. She goes from controlling and horny in the prior episode to her current incarnation as a woman so hysterical that Papa Freud would be delighted. The Swedish immigration authorities are really that scary? And Greg Poehler as Bruce has to try to be funny by talking about serial killers during his interview with the mild-mannered immigration bureaucrat? Only the introduction of an actor stepping across the proscenium, like Kevin Spacey in House of Cards, might have rescued this fiasco. Bathos and bath for all involved in this segment!

The classical Lena Olin and venerable Claes Månsson as Emma's parents make mostly a perfunctory visit this time around. Someone should have given them the episode off with full pay, those two actors are that deserving and their talents completely wasted. Likely they only make an appearance at Emma's apartment so that her brother Gustav, played by Chris Farley II, actually Christopher Wagelin, doomed to an existence of what is an infantile, mostly drunken state, can be transported to his sister's lägenhet to deliver a moment and line that is truly funny, involving Bruce's La-Z-Boy-style recliner. There is developmental hope yet for Gustav.

Is there anything besides Gustav's moment that is funny in episode 3?

Yes. Emma and Bruce are combining their two households and the inevitable clash or at least conflict that arises when birds of a different feather flock together will leave both unsophisticated and sophisticated viewers alike amused. Though I am surprised, given the show's tenor, that Bruce did not take a hammer or saw to the very white IKEA-like world of Emma or that she did not spend several valuable minutes sobbing on his brown furniture, her more rational personality having been thrown out the window this episode.

In lieu of reviewing anything else that was funny in episode 3 (can't make stuff up) or mentioning other shortcomings (plenty, might just focus on the good in future reviews), let me express both my hopes and fears for tonight's episode, which features Gene Simmons of Kiss.

I hope episode 4 does not show a Nordic fest during which reindeer tongue is served and someone accidentally puts a fork into Gene Simmons's famous tongue, mistaking it for a gastronomic treat. But I do fear the lowest common denominator more than a television-first mauling of Simmons's jewel that made him famous: That the show will get off on the word "kiss" and the two meanings both sound and spelling evoke to someone who speaks Swedish and English. We don't need Gustav snickering about this matter, or worse, walking around with his bottom pixilated and indulging in the act of producing the liquid meaning of this word all over.

It would be nice also if the show's producers would stop overdoing it with both meanings of this word, so that smiles and laughter become the mainstay of the mental and bodily functions of what has up until now been a most loyal and patient audience tuning in to Welcome to Sweden.
Ulf Kirchdorfer