Wednesday, February 3, 2010


So I was watching old episodes of Hope and Faith on, and the episode came up where Hope's brother-in-law is getting married to a Swedish girl named Astrid, who has blond hair plaited back into pigtails. Which of course got me thinking about Swedish stereotypes in the media.

Click here to see the episode on Hulu.
(Sorry, Hulu doesn't work outside the United States!)

I feel I probably know more Swedish people than a lot of Americans, including my best friend, who hails from Sweden. I suppose in a way the stereotypes are somewhat accurate: there are many Swedish people who are tall, good-looking, and buxom. But of course not all Swedes are tall and blond and so forth.

Another popular stereotype is about the way Swedish people talk. The below video shows the singular language of the Swedish Chef on the Muppet Show:

While I have met Swedish people who speak English with sing-song accents, most Swedes that I know are EXCELLENT speakers of English. Even my friend's teenage little sister speaks English better than many of my college-age ESL students.

And while pondering these stereotypes about Swedes tonight, it occurred to me for the first time: why are Swedes so popular? I mean, there are tall, good-looking, crooning people in all of Scandanavia, but it seems that Danes and Norwegians don't show up in the American media (even in stereotypical form) nearly as often. Why not? Why is he the Swedish Chef instead of the Finnish Chef, for example?

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