An American actor-turned-screenwriter living in Sweden, Schiaffino Musarra dared to tackle his adoptive country’s “greatest tragedy and biggest embarrassment” in his crime comedy “We Got This,” which bowed May 3 on Swedish broadcaster SVT.
The show, which is repped by Banijay Rights, follows George English (Musarra), a recently jobless American man living in Sweden who sets off to solve the 30-year-old murder of the former prime minister Olof Palme, in hopes that the 50 million Swedish Crown ($5 million) reward can pay off his insurmountable tax bill. English teams with his closest friend, a whacky conspiracy theorist and former police officer, as he ventures into a web of intrigue.
“We Got This” scooped the best pitch prize at last year’s Series Mania festival in France and went into production in record time after its win, with Patrik Eklund directing and a strong cast including Alexander Karim (“The Lawyer”), Olle Sarri (“Apan”), Anki Larsson (“Real Humans”) and Musarra (“Inner Circle”) himself.
But the journey to getting the series picked up by a producer and broadcaster in Sweden was a long and tedious one, says Musarra. While the dark comedy series is a work of fiction, it’s set against the backdrop of the true story of Palme’s assassination in 1986. The reward is also still being offered by Swedish authorities, given Palme was hailed a national hero for his humanism.
“I quickly realized (Palme’s unsolved murder) was a sensitive topic. Aside from being Sweden’s greatest tragedy, it also qualifies as its biggest embarrassment. The Swedish police f—ked up this investigation,” says Musarra.
“Over the years, Palme’s legacy has taken a ‘saint-like status’ and the idea of making a dark comedy about it was seen as perhaps too politically incorrect,” says Musarra.
Ultimately, SVT and Viaplay ordered the show and coined it a “conspiracy comedy,” says Musarra. “Maybe we invented a new genre, a culture clash satire on Sweden, written from my perspective, my frustration about being in Sweden, where people are terrified of making mistakes and (are) very risk averse.”
Musarra says he hopes “We Got This” can be a “game changer” for Swedish TV and lead to more “stories off the beaten path” and away from recycled Scandinavian noir formulas, including the “dead white girl found in the forest (and) cranky investigator who’s so good at his job” tropes.
Musarra has started discussing new projects with Anonymous Content since meeting some senior executives from the company at Series Mania last year. Some of the ideas being discussed is an anthologized version of “We Got This” that follows the assassination of JFK. “It wouldn’t be the same characters and would be set in a completely different universe, but it would share some similarities on a conceptual level,” says Musarra.
“I had so many people who came to tell me about their countries’ cold cases (after winning at Series Mania) — I thought, ‘This s—t could have a life beyond this show,'” says Musarra.