Pop Culture: Swedish television

2011-03-23. Published in Language & Culture
by Sera

Watching TV is not only a way to kill time and relax – you can also learn a lot by watching TV. With this I don’t mean learning survival tricks from MacGyver and alike. It is also about trying to understand people of a country better by studying the local TV programmes. Please follow me through this TV guide which made Swedish culture more familiar to me.

Klass 9A (SVT) is about life and problems at a school. I have not been to school in Sweden – sometimes I really wondered how this might have been because I heard a lot about it, that it is more relaxed and open than in other countries. This programme provides some insight of school life in Sweden. It is a reality documentary about students and teachers of class 9A and their struggle to live up to the national requirements. In Sweden, students of grade nine have to pass a certain amount of courses to be able to continue their higher education and to read a special high school programme (like economics, social science etc.). The students of class 9A have extremely bad grades and a team of pedagogues tries to help them and find out why they are that bad. It is interesting to see what Swedish schools are like – here is a chance to get to know it. SVT

Ullared (Kanal 5)Gekås Ullared is some kind of a legend. It is the biggest and most visited department store in Sweden and they even made a TV show about it. In this reality show we can watch the stressful work of Gekås’ CEO and some staff. Moreover, it follows some customers on their way through the store and even features some home stories. Customers talk about their experiences in Gekås and praise the bargains that they made there. You can see some weird stuff on the show like customers getting married in the store or other customers who spend their entire summer holiday shopping there. There are even some people who travel a long way (sometimes even up to 600km) to go shopping there. I think this show is so fascinating because it shows common people doing an everyday activity but somehow it is really fun to watch it because you get to know a lot of odd and special people. You can even learn a lot about dialects. TV5

Solsidan (TV4) – Solsidan is now in the second season and has broken all records. There are over 2,5 million Swedes following this comedy sitcom. I just don’t get why it is so popular. It is that kind of programme which jokes you recite with your colleagues and friends on the next day. It is about the life of 3 families in a Swedish suburb and makes fun about Swedish way of life. Every Swede I know thinks it is soooo brilliant. You have to know Swedish culture very well to understand this hype. TV4

Svenska Dialektmysterier (“Mysteries about Swedish dialects”, SVT) – The presenter of this show, Fredrik Lindström, is famous for writing about and discussing the use of contemporary Swedish. In the show he travels to different regions and presents their dialects. Moreover, he tries to figure about if common stories about these dialects are true and how they appeared. The programme was shown last year and unfortunately there are only a few clips available on youtube. On SVT’s homepage you can still find some bonus material. SVT

Svenska Hollywoodfruar (“Swedish Hollywood wives”, TV3) – this programme shows the life of Swedish women who at some point went to the US and (in almost all of the cases) got married to a very rich American guy. The Hollywood wives show their houses, give us a hint of their everyday obligations, take us on their shopping tours and share their problems with the viewers. Some wives of the programme received a great deal of attention through the programme. Maria Montazami became somewhat of a cult figure in Sweden and is in the commercial for Max hamburgers and for a tour operator. Even her sister got her own spin-off TV show. There was a big debate around Anna Anka, another Hollywood wife, because of her controversial statements about being a housewife and topics like oral sex and devotion to your husband. She even presented the annual Donald Duck (Kalle Anka) on Christmas Eve and got her own TV programme where she is looking for a personal assistant. She also divorced from her loaded husband shortly after the “Hollywood wives” was shown on Swedish TV. TV3

Jakten på lyckan (Pursuit of happiness, SVT) - Hanna Hellquist is famous from P3 radio morning show and has her first appearance on TV. With her somewhat unconventional methods she investigates how to find happiness. She meets people related to the happiness industry, who have written books about finding happiness or hold lectures or might be regarded as “happy”. Different approaches and seminars are tested and commented during the show, for example hugging-seminars, giving presents to strangers, chocolate massages or food that is supposed to make you happy. SVT

/Sera, Misi.se team, 2011