5 TV Shows You Can Stream To Help You Learn Swedish

There’s a lot of good Swedish TV out there, and not all of it is crime shows!
A still from the TV show Quicksand

Photo: Johan Paulin/Netflix

Swedish television is synonymous with a very specific genre of show: Nordic noir. It’s cold-blooded mysteries in cold-weather places. An internet search for “Swedish TV shows” is bound to return countless promotional shots of serious-looking people staring out over barren fields.

That’s not all Sweden has to offer, though! We found five Swedish TV shows from a variety of different genres that you can watch to practice your language skills. Yes, there is at least one Nordic noir in there, but who doesn’t like a little noir?

5 Swedish TV Shows To Help You Learn The Language

1. Welcome To Sweden

Still from NBC TV Show Welcome To Sweden
Photo: Benjamin Thuresson/NBC

Streaming Platform: Hulu
Number of Seasons: 2 (ended)

Show Premise: This comedy is about an American man who moves to Sweden, his wife’s home country. The show mostly hinges on comedic instances of cultural collision, with the American protagonist Bruce Evans (played by Greg Poehler, brother of Amy Poehler) trying his best to figure out how to get by in his new country.

Learning Tips: This show is best for beginners, because the show features both English and Swedish (it’s called an English-language TV show by some). Still, there’s plenty of Swedish in it to make it worth watching. Plus, you have the added bonus that it provides the American lens on Swedish culture, allowing you to learn about the country as you watch. It’s a comedy, though, so make sure to take some things with a grain of salt. 

2. Bron (The Bridge)

Still from the Swedish TV show The Bridge
Photo: Karl Nordlund/SVT

Streaming Platform: Hulu
Number of Seasons: 4 (ongoing)

Show Premise: One of the most popular Swedish TV shows currently on, Bron is a detective show that is about Danish-Swedish cooperation. The first season starts with a dead body being found half in Sweden and half in Denmark — on the bridge that connects Copenhagen and Malmö, specifically — which requires the two police departments to work together to solve the crime. Each season follows a different crime, with the main narrative link being Swedish police detective Sara Norén.

Learning Tips: This show is probably for a more advanced learner, mainly because the nature of the show means there’s both a lot of Danish and a lot of Swedish. The two languages are mutually intelligible — so if you want to learn both, this show is a good option — but the addition of Danish might be a bit confusing at first. And of course, remember to set the show to have English subtitles.

3. Äkta Människor (Real Humans)

Still from the Swedish TV Show Real Humans
Photo: SVT

Streaming Platform: Hulu
Number of Seasons: 2 (ended)

Show Premise: Äkta Människor is set in a possible near-future Sweden, where humanoid robots are a common occurrence. They can be workers or companions, and they raise a number of ethical and moral questions in the universe. There are those who fear the hubots, as they’re called, are replacing human jobs (a fear you can find even in the real world), and those who think it’s just unnatural. The show was also remade into an English version called Humans, which had three seasons.

Learning Tips: First, you’ll of course want to watch the Swedish version and not the English version, so make sure you’re not picking the wrong show. Because the show is so fantastical, it’ll be worth looking up information beforehand, too, so you have some idea of what’s going on to orient yourself. And of course, make sure those subtitles are turned on.

4. Störst Av Allt (Quicksand)

Swedish TV Shows: Quicksand
Photo: Johan Paulin/Netflix

Streaming Platform: Netflix
Number of Seasons: 1 (ended)

Show Premise: Based on a very popular novel of the same name by Malin Persson Giolito, Störst Av Allt is the first Swedish-language Netflix Original. It’s another example of Nordic noir, but it’s more a courtroom drama than an investigation, and it centers on a school shooting (so not exactly uplifting television). The main character is Maja, who is arrested for the shooting, and while she admits to the murder at first, the true story takes a while to unfold.

Learning Tips: Beyond the usual subtitles-on language learning, this show can give you some insight into the less happy aspects of Swedish life. The story was inspired by class inequality in the country, which is a worthwhile issue to learn more about. You can also find the book it’s inspired by, so you have something to practice your reading skills with.

5. Bonusfamiljen (Bonus Family)

Swedish TV Shows: Still From Bonus Famuly
Photo: Peter Hoelstad/Peterhoelstad.com/Netflix

Streaming Platform: Netflix
Number of Seasons: 3 (ongoing)

Show Premise: Bonusfamiljen is kind of like a modern Brady Bunch, in that it’s about two divorced parents coming together and combining their families. It’s labeled a “dramedy,” and it deals with the regular stresses of raising children while also dealing with exes. If you like shows like This Is Us, this will fit nicely into your viewing schedule.

Learning Tips: Once again, be sure that those subtitles are turned on. There’s not too much specialized vocabulary or anything in this show, so just sit back and enjoy! Maybe it’ll prepare you to talk about your own family drama in Swedish.

Want to learn more Swedish and ditch the subtitles?
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