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A Rare TV Show That Will Positively Transform Your Life

A Rare TV Show That Will Positively Transform Your Life
Tidy minds … (from left) Katarina Blom, Ella Engström and Johan Svenson present The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning. Photograph: NBC Universal

It’s rare for a TV show to affect me anymore. I’ve simply seen too many of them. I’ve watched every configuration of dating shows, every ITV2 Love Island spin-off, every Channel 4 property program, and every failed BBC One Saturday night entertainment attempt. I even watched all those British odd couple road trip shows post-COVID. I’ve seen the Apple TV+ shows that even its executives forgot they commissioned, and every post-Game of Thrones epic franchise attempt. TV doesn’t get to me anymore—I’m TV-proof. My nervous system is too dulled!

However, W’s new US import, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, airing Thursdays at 9 pm, did make me clean out my office. I didn’t stop until I’d filled a bin bag with detritus. It’s a simple remix of Marie Kondo’s Netflix hit from a few years ago, based on a New York Times bestselling book. The show introduces the Swedish philosophy of clearing out your home before you die—a semi-holy ceremonial tidy-up that allows you to confront the end of your life pragmatically while giving treasured items to family members.

Despite this morbid premise, you don’t need to be dying to benefit from it. Essentially, it’s another self-help book that uses quirky terms to remind you to tidy up your place a bit. On TV, it’s a soft, brain-off delight built in the mold of Netflix’s Queer Eye. Three cheerful Swedish death cleaners enter the home of a hoarding American and marvel at their stuff. Johan, “the Designer,” might say, “Wow, you have so much stuff.” Katarina, “the Psychologist,” will suggest placing items in a particular spot, and Ella, “the Organiser,” will chirp about making the room useful. They often go for a chic black coffee and discuss how the American in question would be happier if they cried on camera twice and threw away nine boxes of stuff.

In two days, they’ve painted three rooms, added a desk, reframed old photos, and found a nostalgic outfit, prompting hugs and tears. It might not be groundbreaking, but neither is Four in a Bed, and I’ll still watch hours of that on a profound hangover. Amy Poehler executive produces and narrates this show. Surprisingly, the role of a comedian who constantly interrupts with jokes works less effectively in an American accent compared to British contemporaries.

In the first few minutes, Poehler repeatedly explains, “Cleaning out your crap so others don’t have to when you’re dead – it’s a very Swedish thing.” Yes, we got it. She watches the Swedes carry boxes with “the efficiency that can only come from a country that gives its healthcare away for free.” It’s like being at a party with someone desperately trying to land a joke, growing more frantic each time. Most people who have attended a party with me have seen this. Poehler constantly does this over the hour, making me appreciate Rob Beckett on Celebs Go Dating all the more. Still, it doesn’t need to be funny if it inspired me to take a bag of garbage downstairs. Tack, Gentle Swedish Death Cleaners. May your lives be blessed with an endless supply of salted licorice you inexplicably enjoy.

Source: NBC Universal