The title of Greg Poehler’s new comedy Welcome to Sweden, about a New York accountant named Bruce who leaves his life behind to follow girlfriend Emma (played with sharp elegance by Swedish actress Josephine Bornebusch) to her homeland, is a risky one. Perhaps you’re not particularly keen on visiting the Scandinavian country or watching a comedy where Emma’s interactions with the wonderful Lena Olin, who plays her therapist mother, are largely subtitled? Get over it, Yanks. Exec-produced by Poehler’s sister, Amy, and based on his own experience of moving to Sweden for love, the show is romantically old-fashioned — think the best Mad About You episodes — and delightfully weird (somehow celebrity cameos by the likes of Will Ferrell and Gene Simmons work).
Poehler (who surely will play Greg Kinnear’s brother in a movie one day) makes a terrific fish out of water, struggling to hold his liquor with Emma’s naked father and brother in a sauna, or pretending to be Canadian in his Swedish-language classes because of a new friend’s anti-American sentiment. In an interview with a job agency, his caseworker says he may be able to help him ”thanks to your good English.” ”Okay,” says Bruce, ”I think I speak a little bit better than just ‘good’ English.” I’m sure great cultural norms are being affectionately skewered here — the series has already been picked up for a second season in Sweden — that went right over this viewer’s head. But as the title suggests, the wit and heart of the show are available to all. A-