Welcome to Sweden is a fish out of water story about an American guy who falls in love with a Swedish girl and follows her across the globe. Greg Poehler himself followed his heart to Stockholm seven years ago, leaving behind a successful career as a New York lawyer. But the show is not completely autobiographical, he says.
“A lot of the scenes started off based on my own life and then we tried to make them funnier. I don’t think anybody’s life is fully equipped to be the subject of a sitcom,” Poehler tells Radio Sweden.
Greg plays the main character, Bruce, an accountant who moves to Sweden to be with his girlfriend, Emma (Josephine Bornebusch).
In a scene in the first episode, we find Bruce at a traditional crayfish party with Emma's parents (played by Lena Olin and Claes Månsson), who can't quite understand why he left New York.
Bruce's former boss is played by Amy Poehler, of Saturday Night Live fame. Greg Poehler tells Radio Sweden that working with his sister has been a great experience, and that they have several more projects in the pipeline, including a show teaching Swedish kids English.
The fact that Amy Poehler is a big star at American TV company NBC explains why the network has snapped up the US rights, says Welcome to Sweden's executive producer, Fredrik Arefalk.
“They heard of the show via Amy and Greg and of course the theme of the whole show – the American view of Sweden and the universal rom com story - are also appealing to NBC. To my knowledge, this is the first time that a US network has invested in a non-American series,” Arefalk tells Radio Sweden.
Apart from Amy Poehler, a string of other celebrities have cameos in the series, too, including Will Ferrell, another American who's married to a Swede.
“He’s here every summer so he has a pretty good handle on what Swedish life is like,” says Poehler, adding that it was “a dream” to get Ferrell to do a cameo in the show.
Poehler says he wanted to reflect an immigrants' life in Sweden and the kinds of cultural clashes he has experienced here, but at the same time he wanted to avoid clichés and stereotypes.
“We tried to concentrate on the smaller, nuanced cultural differences, like how Swedes don’t like to talk to their neighbours.”
As for his wife’s reaction to her life being turned into comedy, Poehler, who is currently on paternity leave for the third time, said: “She’s OK with it, but I don’t know about the rest of her family!”