For anyone who's ever looked around their house and wondered where all their stuff really came from, Peacock's latest show The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleansing is for you.
Hosted and produced by actress and comedian Amy Poehler, the show features three Swedish "death cleaners"—a home decorator, a designer, and a psychologist—whose mission is to help people tidy up their homes and lives.
It adopts the concept of "death cleansing" from the Swedish concept of döstädning, popularized by Stockholm author Margaretta Magnusson in her 2018 book The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleansing.
"The idea is that we shouldn't leave our loved ones with mountains of trash to clean up when we die," he wrote in the 2022 follow-up, "The Swedish Art of Overaging: Life's Wisdom from someone you love (maybe) dies before you."
"Why should your family and friends take the time to clean up your mess when you can take care of it yourself?" asked Magnuson.
That's the question the series seeks to answer as three Death Cleanups travel to Kansas City, Missouri to help eight people physically and emotionally.
Each episode features tongue-in-cheek narration by Poehler, who tells viewers at the start of the show to "wash off your shit, so when you die nobody else has to. It's a very Swedish thing." Take it as you please."
Katarina Blom, a psychologist, told TODAY.com that the idea of eliminating death "is ingrained in our culture." He said he used to do this with his mom, who would suggest things like cleaning out one drawer at a time.
The idea, organizer Ella Engstrom told TODAY.com, is "an ongoing process."
"It's like doing it on a different level," he said. "So you have the tools to go in and do it."
Designer Johan Svensson added that the show wasn't really meant to be a model or guide for the audience.
"If you look at all the episodes – look at all the different people and destinies – (then) it can… turn on your inner voice, your compass, instead of an authority or an expert telling you what to do." Doing that and we don't. We don't. I don't really do that on the show," he explained. "We implemented something we felt we could share with someone."
But all three offer practical advice throughout the series. Engstrom says it's important to pay attention to where you are in life and "what helps you in the here and now. It takes change throughout life."
"It's so important to look at your home through the lens of, 'Wow, my whole life has gotten me this far,'" says Blom, adding that no one should be ashamed of being "a little too full". your current needs.
She says it's important to have spaces in the home that serve a purpose, "not just 'Oh, that was built up over time.'
The series introduces a new home and central character with each episode, which is filmed in the Kansas City area over approximately one week.
While other cleanup shows like "The Home Edit" and "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo" tended to create the gritty, but sometimes gritty, "Swedish Death Purge" aesthetic, this show leaned towards comedy. For example, the first episode stars Suzy Sanderson, a former lounge singer and self-proclaimed “old horned chick” who is reluctant to part with the eclectic sex arts she has accumulated over the years. (And the episode ends with the Cleaners of Death and Sanderson in a drag show in his old clothes!)
For its somewhat unnatural title, this show is surprisingly moving.
The cleaning process is "gentle", says Blom. "This takes time".
For those looking to organize their space, she recommends asking loved ones what they really want from their home and "asking for help."
“We met a lot of strong people who said, 'I am independent. I'm going to build muscle in this really, really tough situation," Blom said. No need to! Ask for help.""
Svensson added that there shouldn't be a "reveal" at the end of each episode.
"I hope people who watch the show (understand) that it's a vision and a process," he said. "When we go to people's homes, there's a journey we start with them. It's not like we just walk in and start pointing fingers at them."
She adds that it's more about listening to what's going on in her life right now—from battling cancer to loneliness. They hope that the people exposed to these great emotions will lead them to a better place.
"I hope (we help) people get closer to who they really are and make their homes more reflective of who they are and who they want to be," he said.
This article originally appeared on TODAY.com