‘Lilyhammer,’ Netflix and the Future of TV

Steven Van Zandt in Lilyhammer: Episode 2: The Flamingo

On February 6th, Netflix added the Norwegian TV series Lilyhammer to its streaming lineup. There’s really nothing groundbreaking or adventurous about the program save for the fact that Netflix invested in its production and is the first original program it has offered; while it’s not as high profile as Netflix’s acquisition of David Finch’s forthcoming House of Cards that stars Kevin Spacey, it’s still a milestone. And broadcast and cable television will never be the same again. More importantly, if Lilyhammer proves only a modest success, it might well open up the market in the United States for more foreign-language television programming, which has largely been ignored by mainstream venues.

As to Lilyhammer itself, it’s a rather derivative fish-out-of-the-water comedy-drama starring Steven Van Zandt as a Mafioso who elects to go to Norway as part of the witness protection program after testifying against the mob. Nevertheless, the scenery is lovely and the characters and story have a certain charm, and I can’t help but wish it well.

Author: Harvey Deneroff

Harvey Deneroff is a Los Angeles-based independent animation and film scholar specializing in labor history. He formerly taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design and was editor of Animation Magazine, Animation World Magazine, and Graiffit (published by ASIFA-Hollywood). He is the founder and past president of the Society for Animation Studies.

1 thought on “‘Lilyhammer,’ Netflix and the Future of TV”

  1. While I’d love for the US market to be more accepting of foreign TV (the original The Killing was great, for example), I don’t think Lilyhammer is the way to sell the American public on the quality of foreign TV. Nor do I think it was a good move for this to be the show Netflix offered as their first exclusive. It certainly won’t entice me to get a Netflix subscription again. I ditched them some time back in favor of the Blockbuster @Home service after my employer, DISH, came out with it. Not only is it less expensive than Netflix is now, but on top of movie rentals and unlimited streaming, I get video game rentals, the option to take them in for an in-store exchange, and a slew of the more traditional style of movie channels.

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