Ideas dance around in the mind of Schiaffino Musarra.
Yet the inspiration behind his latest series, “We Got This,” came from a news report about a man who stumbled upon some Viking gold and made tons of money.
“I thought to myself, ‘I need to find something like that,’ ” Musarra says. “Where could I make money? Then I found this funny list of things that are worth money, like, the original world cup was stolen in the 1960s in Brazil. If you found it, you’d be an instant millionaire.”
At No. 6 or 7 was the story of Olof Palme.
Palme was the prime minister of Sweden twice and led the Swedish Social Democratic Party from 1969 until his assassination in 1986.
Palme was a pivotal figure domestically as well as in international politics from the 1960s onward. He was steadfast in his nonalignment policy toward the superpowers, accompanied by support for numerous liberation movements in developing nations after decolonization including economic and vocal support for a number of developing nations’ governments.
“I read a little about it when I moved to Sweden,” he says. “I learned that the case was still open and there was a 50 million Swedish krona reward. Being an outsider, I felt like I could solve this 30-year-old case.”
This began the foundation for the series, which airs on Thursdays on Sundance Now.
The six-part series follows George English, played by Musarra, who is an American living in Sweden.
Grieving after the recent death of his father, the sudden collapse of his career and the arrival of an insurmountable government debt, English stumbles onto an unlikely situation – a chance for a 50 million Swedish krona reward for solving the 30-year-old murder of the former prime minister, Olof Palme.
Naturally, English begins to imagine that cracking the Palme case could be the answer to all his problems.
Together with his closest friend, a not-so-intrepid journalist who wants nothing to do with the case; a whacky conspiracy theorist; and a former police officer, they follow the case into a web of conspiracy.
Keeping his wife and daughter in the dark while following the cover-up and inconsistencies in the original investigation, he quickly realizes that with every step he takes toward the truth, the more dangerous the operation becomes.
“I thought it would be funny to write this show,” he says. “In this case, it’s about an outsider who didn’t realize that people long before him have tried to crack the case. Every good TV show needs a carrot on a stick.”
When Musarra came up with the idea about seven years ago, no production company wanted to touch it.
“It was nearly impossible for anyone to say ‘yes,’ ” he says. “I think people were hesitant about turning Sweden’s national tragedy into a comedy. It wasn’t my intention to make fun of it.”
Three years ago, Musarra decided to make a trailer for the project.
“It made it look like the show was already finished,” he says. “I wanted to show the tone and the style of the series. It was clear that the main character, George, was the joke in the show. Once that happened, it changed the conversation.”
Three months later, there was a developmental deal.
The work began in earnest.
“Like any other political assassination, there’s too much information to draw from,” he says. “It was challenging to choose what to use and what to leave out. I fought with the channel and production company, just as I would for any other TV show.”
Musarra enjoyed working on the series because he’s always looked up to Palme.
“He was an amazing person,” he says. “There were a lot of missteps. As I learned more, I experienced this outrage, which was 20 years too late. By this time, most people in Sweden have moved on. I wanted to create this character that would resonate with so many.”
Musarra also wanted to bring the conversation back to Palme.
“I have kids who are teenagers,” he says. “They don’t teach anything about Olof in the schools here in Sweden. There’s one scene in the series were George is a substitute teacher who doesn’t have a lesson plan. He begins to teach about world events. That totally happened to me when I moved to Sweden. Luckily, I was able to keep my job.”