December 2, 2023

A new Swedish program on the country’s history is being scrutinized due to portrayals by actors of different ethnicities.

The History of Sweden will be broadcast this fall on Sweden’s tax-funded state TV channel Sveriges Television AB (SVT) after nearly three years of production, described by The Nordic Times as the network’s biggest ever historical venture.

Criticism has followed the arc of the project, however, due to Black and Middle Eastern actors front and center in previews. Some claim that their appearance is part of revisionist history and not following proper science or history, and some view it as a major slight towards white Europeans of Nordic descent.

Sweden Scandinavia History Black
Stock photo of the Swedish flag. A new series, “The History of Sweden,” set to preview this fall after three years of production is being criticized for its historical depictions.
Michael Campanella/Getty Images

In a March 2023 statement, SVT defended the project and said that over 300 historians and experts were involved behind the scenes to dutifully execute with historical accuracy.

The series reportedly documents the history of Sweden dating back to the Ice Age, all the way to the present.

“As part of the mass media and political campaign for continued mass immigration to Sweden, it has become increasingly common in recent years to claim that Sweden has always been multi-ethnic and that the early Swedes did not in fact look anything like today’s light-skinned Swedes—but more like sub-Saharan Africans—an ‘educational campaign’ spearheaded by SVT itself,” The Nordic Times wrote in an editorial in June.

Newsweek reached out to SVT via email for comment.

As production has continued and publicity for the program has ramped up, more individuals have expressed antipathy toward the depictions shown in pre-released images. One of them is Jeff Ahl, a former member of Swedish Parliament.

“History falsification in full swing,” Ahl wrote in May on X, formerly Twitter. “The cultural Marxist poison must be purged from our ‘universities,’ which have turned into propaganda institutions, rather than serious institutions of learning.”

Others on X have declared it “state-sanctioned erasure of history,” adding that it is not Sweden’s past, but could be its future.

One user compared its historical accuracy to casting actor Robert Downey Jr. to play Martin Luther King Jr., referring to it as “a joke.”

But others have come to the defense of the show.

“All the tragic racist pucks in the thread who saw a series based on two pictures: Do you really think that the first people in ‘Sweden’ when the ice melted were blonde, blue-eyed and named Sven and Susanne?” asked one user. “Damn it, drop the hem! It is archaeologists and historians who participated.”

A study published in January 2018 in the PLOS scientific journal examined early postglacial migration routes and adaptation among Sweden’s earliest known inhabitants.

It concluded that there was greater genetic diversity in Mesolithic northern Europe compared to southern and central Europe and modern-day patterns—and that many genetic variants common during that period have been lost today.

“These findings reiterate the importance of human migration for dispersal of novel technology in human prehistory,” the study says.