Season 1 | Episode 5 | “Fitting In” | Aired Aug 7, 2014
I think this week’s ABBA title is fitting since Welcome to Sweden has been renewed for a second season. NBC rewarded this quirky little show with a time slot in its fall lineup after only five episodes. This proves that the network has extreme faith in the Poehler family, as well as America’s propensity to both adore and fear IKEA and anything that hails from its motherland. Insert meatball joke here.
Emma is concerned about Bruce. When she and her friend are discussing the pending death of another friend, Bruce interrupts the somber moment an ill-timed Swedish Chef impression. His “Hoidy, doidy, do” is met with wide eyes of embarrassment.
Another friend, Lisa, tries to diffuse the moment by telling a funny story about her husband. When she see Bruce’s obvious confusion, she tries to include him by speaking English so he can follow along. Lisa mixes metaphors and misuses some words for others. The tale involves sanding floors, a sleep machine, a P-O (I still don’t know what that is) and her husband running figuratively into a wall. Bruce still can’t follow, and both become frustrated. The party vibe is instantly extinguished when Lisa changes the subject to Bruce’s American pants.
While walking home, Bruce admits to Emma that his friend Hassan would never make fun of his pants. Hassan accepts Bruce for who he is and, as Emma conveniently points out, Hassan thinks Bruce is Canadian. Touché.
The next day Emma learns that Lisa is throwing a party, and they have not been invited. She confides to her mother, who asks if Bruce has made any effort to fit in or learn the language? Playing video games with a Middle Eastern doesn’t count.
Emma tells Bruce about Lisa’s party, and he immediately feels awful because it’s his fault. He’s determined to make everyone in Emma’s life love him. He pulls up Google translator, calls Lisa and asks to attend her party in impeccable Google Swedish. That’s about five or six levels away from acceptable Swedish. Having no idea she totally blew him off, he thanks her and calls Viveka to charm her since he’s on a roll.
Bruce understands that the best way to Viveka’s heart is to get her to a spa. During a deep-tissue massage, Viveka asks Bruce if he will promise to never hurt Emma mentally or physically for as long as they both shall live.
Bruce: That’s impossible to promise. But I will tell her I love her every chance I get, and I will love her more than anyone has ever loved another in the history of loving people.
Two sentences. That’s all it took for an entire relationship to shift between boyfriend and boyfriend’s girlfriend’s mother. Viveka gives Bruce a genuine smile she typically reserves for Gustav, and all is right with the little part of the world we call Sweden.
Of course, that was lost as quickly as it was found.
Bruce balks at the ridiculous spa charge to his account and counters several line items, including the moment he kicked his foot masseur because it tickled. Viveka rolls her eyes and pays the bill of the annoying, freeloading sucker, who is mooching off of her very successful and beautiful daughter.
Bruce is depressed as Emma gets ready for Lisa’s party. She blasts Ace of Base to cheer him up. Bruce misses the significance of this gesture since it’s not 1993. Emma gloats that everyone loves Ace of Base, because they had the most successful album ever.
She also tells Bruce that he needs to be proud to live in Sweden because of Ola. You know, from the James Bond movie!
Well, hello there, Ola. Is he too much of a Swedish celebrity to be on this show?
Bruce lays the Swedish on really thick at the party, which makes matters worse. He ends up befriending a fellow wallflower, whom he tries to impress by tossing the name Ola around like an old friend. When that doesn’t help, Bruce tells a funny story about a guy who went crazy renovating his floors! What an idiot!
Hey, Bruce! Meet Mr. Idiot!
The guy freaks out when Lisa meekly mentions that his brand-new floors have been scuffed because someone forgot to take off his shoes. All eyes are on Bruce, the crazy American who didn’t know that everyone knows you’re supposed to remove your shoes when you enter a home.
It looks like Bruce needs to work a little harder to fit in. Even though Hassan would never make him remove his shoes, Bruce thinks it’s best to move on and find a Swedish friend. When Hassan approaches the door, Bruce begins a lovely soliloquy, but Hassan interrupts and breaks up with him first. Bruce balks and Hassan instructs him to take it like a man. A Canadian man. And he shuts the door on Bruce’s face.
Bruce finally comes clean and shouts through the mail slot that he’s actually a proud American-flag-pillow-owning son of the U.S.A. He fears Hassan will slit his throat, so he hurries home to sit in front of Facebook, longing for anyone who will affirm his cultural differences. Suddenly, Viveka accepts his friend request. And all is right with the little part of the world we call Sweden.
We learn that Viveka accidentally hit the wrong button, and meant to reject him, but that’s neither here nor there. Bruce is back on track and excited to begin his life with Emma. Of course, a new life in Sweden isn’t complete without a visit from Bruce’s parents. His mom and dad arrive next week! Surprise!
Welcome to Sweden, Bruce’s family!
Welcome to Sweden airs Thursdays at 9/8C on NBC.