You may not have heard much about the new Amy Poehler-produced, Greg Poehler-starring NBC comedy “Welcome to Sweden,” but that will soon change. The series, premiering this summer, stars the “SNL” and “Parks and Recreation” star’s brother Greg as Bruce, an American who decides to move to Sweden for love only to discover not speaking the native tongue is the least of his worries. The Poehlers stopped by the NBC Universal Summer Press Day Tuesday evening to show a few clips from the show and discuss its origins. Here are the highlights:
Greg Poehler’s first step in creating the show: Google “how to write a script.”
Poehler, who used to be an attorney before diving into the family business, said he wrote the pilot episode of “Welcome to Sweden” on a snowy day in Stockholm. “I wanted [the show] to be sold in the U.S. and Sweden and have a bunch of cameos,” Greg said. “I wanted to play the lead role myself. I didn’t know if anyone would ever read that script or if any of it was possible, but I dreamed really big that day.”
“I sent Amy the script so she could literally just check the font and size,” Poeher added, missing an opportunity to imitate Rob Lowe’s “Parks and Rec” character. “I just wanted to make sure it looked like a script. I had actually Googled ‘how to write a script.’ That was actually step one in my show.”
The show is based off a true story, but the celebrity characters are totally fake.
When asked about balancing the show’s jokes for American and Swedish audiences and risking alienating portions of the audience in the process, Amy Poehler said, “The story is based on Greg’s own story. He met his girlfriend, now-wife and moved to Sweden because of love. This show is certainly not making fun of anything that happens in Sweden. It’s about love kind of taking you somewhere else and you having to adjust not only to the new relationship but to the country”
In the show, Greg plays an attorney for many different celebrities, including his real-life sister. Amy plays an exaggerated, meaner version of herself on the show as one of a slew of celebrity cameos populating the first season. The Poehlers said Will Ferrell, Gene Simmons, and Aubrey Plaza all make appearances as versions of themselves on “Welcome to Sweden.” While both the real life actors and their characters may speak fluent Swedish, that doesn’t mean everything about their roles is accurate.
“I’m playing a character, but the rest of them are playing horrible versions of themselves,” Greg said.
“I don’t think the Swedes should be upset, but actors should be very upset,” Amy added, jokingly.
Amy Poehler: Queen of the Puns
Any fan of “Parks and Recreation” knows puns are a favored joke of Leslie Knope (if you need evidence, watch this season’s episode titled “Farmers Market”). Turns out Poehler can spit them out as quickly as her onscreen persona. While discussing the famous Swedish-speaking actors they’re trying to nail down for guest spots on the show (turns out Will Ferrell speaks fluent Swedish), a reporter suggested they go after one of the Skarsgard clan, Alexander, Stellan, or Gustaf.
“We are heavily stalking them,” Amy replied. “They’re staying a little Skarsguarded right now, but we will get them.”
“Welcome to Sweden” has already been renewed for season two…in Sweden.
“The show was amazingly well-received there,” Greg said, when asked about how the Swedish audience has reacted to the show after airing three episodes over the last few weeks. “The numbers are gigantic. We got above 2 million viewers in a country of 9 million. It’s a crazy hit there.”
“TV4 has renewed us for season two already,” Amy added. “So we’re hoping the same goes for NBC.”