When I travel, I love to go to the movies in different countries, and that’s an easy leap to make because there are screenings of English-language films and even some screenings of films with English subtitles most of the places I go.
What’s not so easy is for me to get insights into the television scene in countries where English is not the official language. After all, why would I want to watch an American series or a UK import (with subtitles) that I wouldn’t watch when at home?
This week is a treat in an unexpected way. Two of my long-time friends came to Copenhagen as a springboard for us to travel to Sweden and Norway during my spring break.
The Volvo Group North America is headquartered in Greensboro, NC, and my friends Glen and Karen have made several close Swedish friends over the years who have come to Greensboro from Gothenburg for temporary terms along with a few who have relocated to North Carolina permanently.
We have launched our trip in Gothenburg where I am the recipient of Swedish hospitality that rivals the best I have encountered in the South.
Last night, there was also the opportunity to observe a Swedish media phenomena after dinner — or so I thought!
As soon as the delicious dinner was consumed (thank you, Lena), Jorgen started telling me about Melodifestivalen, a series focusing on musical acts that compete in various countries for the opportunity to represent their country in the Europe-wide competition later in the season.
Last night was the Swedish final, and Jorgen brought me up to speed by showing a clip from the group that won last year, but it turns out that what didn’t happen was more interested to me from a cultural standpoint than what did happen.
Sure. We moved from the table and watched a little TV, the opening of the show and about two numbers.
Then dessert was served, and we moved back to the table. Even more surprisingly for Americans (at least, for many Americans), the TV was turned off when we returned to the table.
I have no idea who won (though Lena and Jorgen’s lovely daughter Emma said she’d send me a link so I could could find out).
But, you know, it really doesn’t matter who won.
My sense that spending with friends and family is of prime importance in Scandinavia was confirmed once again by my evening with Annlövs.
And, I didn’t even mention that Emma’s younger brother Anton gave up his apartment for the weekend to give me a place to stay.
This meets if not bests Southern hospitality and reinforces the idea that a television series, even one that my host gets excited about seeing, is less important than conversation.