‘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.