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'Welcome to Sweden' recap: Knowing me, knowing you

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “Proving Love” | Aired July 24, 2014

Emma and Bruce are ready to begin their lives together. Her tenants have finally moved out of her apartment, and Bruce is eager to add his own sense of style into the décor mix. He thinks they should paint the walls either brown or red because that would work best with his stuff, which will be arriving from New York City any day now. Emma scoffs at the idea of “poo-brown” walls. In her words, “It should be like a gallery. Art goes on the walls. The walls are not art.”

Bruce wants the place to be a little warmer than a mental facility, but he decides to table that argument for the time being. Instead, he chooses to march head-on into another battle. Why has Emma plastered herself to the door so she can stare out the peephole?

Emma quickly explains her bizarre behavior in a matter-of-fact way. She doesn’t want to run into the neighbors. Bruce laughs. You have to get to know your neighbors. Was Mr. Rogers not a thing in Sweden? How are you supposed to borrow milk if you don’t know the little old lady’s name in 2B?

Apparently, in Sweden, you buy milk from the store. How odd.

Emma shoves Bruce out the door when the coast is clear. She moves down the stairs as if the building is on fire, with Bruce bumbling behind her. He notices a woman shoving her cart into the elevator and, to prove Emma wrong, he strikes up a conversation. The woman treats him like that guy who tries to sell you a cell phone from a kiosk in the middle of the mall. Her expression is cold and blank; all body language tells Bruce that she would rather be anywhere else than face-to-face with a person. The fact that he’s American is an unwanted bonus. Emma doesn’t have time to say “I told you so.” They are late for the immigration office.

All they have to do is convince the immigration officer that they are in love. The good news is that Bruce and Emma are actually in love. The bad news is that Emma is freaking out that their story seems implausible.

Emma is the first to be interviewed. She rattles off facts about Bruce and answers the interviewer’s questions before he can finish asking them. Her nervousness is more concerning than endearing. And it doesn’t help that her apprehension has rubbed off on Bruce.

Bruce is a hot mess. He manages to steer the interrogation from “Where did you meet?” to Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer. Bruce would never kill or eat Emma. That’s gross. The immigration officer calmly stands up from behind his desk and sticks his head out into the hallway where Emma sits waiting.

Officer: Do not say anything. Just nod your head. Do you know this man I’m speaking with right now? You’re not under any threat, are you?

Confused by the wording, Emma nods both ways. Shaking her head to signify no, she’s not under threat, is immediately followed by a nodding her head yes, she’s not under any threat. The fact that the shake/nod could technically go both ways leaves Emma in a fit of nervous giggles.

Once they are released, Emma is furious when she learns that Bruce brought up not one but two serial killers in his interview. Their fight is interrupted by a second phone call from Bruce’s old client, Aubrey Plaza. I was delighted that she played an “April Ludgate” version of herself.

Aubrey: Quick question. Can I deduct my Brazilian wax from my taxes?

Bruce reminds Aubrey that he is no longer working for her. She ignores him, asking, “When are you going to come back from Sweden? The land of …”

She couldn’t think of anything funny to say. I applaud her for trying to make a sarcastic point. Kudos for not swinging for the obvious meatballs, IKEA and ABBA.

Welcom to SwedenAubrey ends her call just as Amy Poehler walks up. She wants to know if Bruce is coming back. Aubrey says that she doesn’t think so.

Amy: I need him back here. These taxes are complicated and I’m in over my head. I’ve fired three people and I will fire you too.
Aubrey: From what?
Amy: From being my friend.
Aubrey: Fine. Then find your drugs somewhere else.
Amy: Well played.

Aubrey is the queen of deadpan and has really strong chemistry with Amy. The 90 seconds they are featured in this episode made me nostalgic for Parks & Recreation. Their cameos are a welcome breath of fresh air that pops up right when things are feeling stale.

Back at the apartment, Emma tries to hide the disgust in her face as Bruce unpacks all the cool stuff from his apartment. This includes a wooden bar and a Boomer Esiason football. Clearly these bachelor-pad items do not complement her Arne Jacobsen chair. Think luxury design meets dive bar.

The doorbell rings. Of course it’s not the nosey neighbors coming to check things out. It’s nosey parents. And one dorky brother. Viveka thoughtfully hauled over a tacky lamp from the basement that Emma may want to use and Birger presents Bruce with a hot pan of move-in porridge. Upon scanning the accoutrements of the new dwelling, Viveka smiles as she sputters her revulsion in Swedish. Gustaf thinks the place is awesome.

Brother: It’s great. It’s like Tom Cruise’s bar in Cockpit.
Bruce: Cocktail.
Brother: Yes, please.

Welcome to SwedenEmma gathers everyone around the table, except for Gustaf, who insists on getting to know Bruce’s Barcalounger on an intimate level. Viveka dives into a story, detailing the lives of her “clients” who just moved in together. One is a lovely girl from Sweden. The other is a boy from Denmark. They didn’t realize all their differences until they were under the same roof. Bruce is fascinated that their story is so much like his! Emma rolls her eyes, wishing she could escape by borrowing a cup of sugar from Old Lady What’s-Her-Face in 2B.

The next day, Emma finally explodes, and the truth comes pouring out. She’s afraid that the immigration test will conclude that they aren’t a real couple. She’s tired of Bruce saying that things will work themselves out, because what if they don’t? Bruce is the only person in the world Emma cares about and she can’t stand living in Sweden without him.

Bruce softens. He tells Emma that they should get rid of everything and start over with a clean slate. Emma thinks this idea is ludicrous, but happily plays along because crazy has always been the foundation of their relationship. After everything is sold and loaded up into a stranger’s van, Emma stands in the middle of a completely empty apartment. This appears extremely sketchy when the immigration officer arrives for an unscheduled visit. Emma tries to explain that starting over with nothing was a romantic gesture, but the officer isn’t buying it. Suddenly Bruce barges in, holding the Boomer football. He couldn’t get rid of it.

This sparks a huge argument. She gave up her fancy Arne Jacobsen chair and he kept his stupid pigskin? They bicker back and forth for several minutes until the officer interrupts. It’s obvious that they are a real couple. They fight like one.

Welcome to Sweden, Bruce.

Welcome to Sweden airs Thursdays at 9/8C on NBC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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