Allt For Sverige!

Trip Start Aug 18, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Sweden  , Swedish Lakeland,
Thursday, December 1, 2011

This past winter Sweden premiered a new reality television show that was very different from what we normally see on our televisions. There was no yelling and horrible fights caught on camera and there was no cash prize at the end so we did not have to sit through an entire season listening to greedy people saying how they were going to win the big check at the end.

What made this show so special was that the show brought two cultures together and the prize was a good old fashioned family reunion, Swedish style

The new show was called Allt For Sverige or Everything for Sweden. The show recruited ten American contestants from 4,000 applicants to be on the show. The one thing that all of the contestants had in common was that they were all descended from Swedes who had immigrated to the United States between the 1880's and the 1930’s. The winner of the show would not win one million dollars, they would win a chance to meet their Swedish relatives that were still here and get a chance to learn about the country that their ancestors came from.

Looking at the ten contestants you could see that many of them were definitely descended from Scandinavia. Most of them were blond and they were all very fair skinned people, and a majority of them were form Michigan and Minnesota or had roots from that region of the United States, which is the region where most Swedes immigrated to when they first came to America. Reading articles about the contestants they were recruited because they had good personalities for on camera, there was the flamboyant gay designer and the intense car salesman, the student, the teacher, the rocker from L.A., the minister and the cop, but my favorite was the radio personality Angel expert. They were all really interested in the past, but you could tell that most of them knew nothing about Sweden apart from the fact that a part of them was Swedish. One of them even admitted to not doing any research before coming. These made for some really interesting sound bites.

The show opened with the ten Americans coming across the water on a small boat from Denmark. During every episode one contestant would be eliminated through tasks that taught them about Swedish life, history and culture. They learned about the world of Pippi Longstocking by climbing up a flag pole and dropping Swedish meatballs to a teammate who would try to catch them in their mouth. Or, when they were learning about Swedish camping they had to park a trailer in reverse, set up table and chairs set the table for lunch and put the steak on the grill while racing the clock. Or, when learning about being a Viking they had to row a boat and climb up a hill to claim the land. The one challenge that I would have probably failed at was the episode where the contestants had to learn about the Swedes that lived above the Arctic Circle, they had to shoot a gun and then lasso reindeer.

Each episode taught the contestants about Sweden, but the show I think did a good job of capturing the Americans reaction to the strange habits of the Swedes, like putting marmalade on cheese. Or when the Americans were taught that in some regions of Sweden the Swedes will say yes by sucking in their breath that unless you know what they are doing it just looks strange from an American point of view.

What I found, was that you needed to have an understanding of not only American culture, but Swedish culture to be able to get a full understanding of this show. To a Swede the Americans might be a little strange, but I can understand many of their reactions to the food and the culture, because I went through those same reactions and now understand why Swedes do some of the things they do, and since I grew up in the United States I did not find the contestants all that strange because I could relate to their way of life.

I was curious if this show could be run in the United States, but I think that the explanations would have to be much more detailed for Americans to understand why one of the challenges was to climb up a flagpole, (this was a scene directly out of an Astrid Lindgren book,) this was a story that you grew up with as a child. I think that this concept could be replicated in the United States. The country is made up of immigrants from all over the world. Each season could be a different country where the prize is to meet your family.

When each contestant was eliminated they were heartbroken, because they were not losing a monetary value they were losing a chance to meet their family. None of the contestants knew anything about their Swedish relatives and were crushed at losing this chance. What none of them knew was although they did not win the party at the end they were still provided with a large packet of information about their Swedish relatives along with the contact information for all of their relatives still in Sweden, so although they did not win they were still given the prize that they all wanted which was a chance to reconnect with family and to learn about where they came from.

First Episode: 
News Article:  
Slideshow Report as Spam


Carol Boster on

Sounds like a very worthwhile and entertaining TV program. Sure enjoyed your description of it.

Sarah Lady on

sounds like an interesting show....still enjoy reading your blogs Katie, especially since I'm away from Sweden now

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