Netflix Is Losing Its Very First Original Series

Netflix's very first original series, Lilyhammer, will no longer be available on the streamer after this month.

By Michileen Martin | Published

The show generally considered to be Netflix’s first original series, the crime dramedy Lilyhammer, is leaving the streaming platform in November. IndieWire reported the news on Tuesday, saying that the streamer‘s 10-year deal with Norwegian government-owned broadcasting company NRK was expiring next month, and that the deal wasn’t being renewed.

Netflix first streamed Lilyhammer in 2012 in partnership with NRK, who aired the episodes 12 days earlier in Norway. The series stars Steven Van Zandt as a mobster who drops a dime on his former colleagues and as his reward is transplanted to Lillehammer, Norway where he once again turns to a life of crime. When the series premiered, fans still fondly remembered Van Zandt in his mobster role of Silvio on HBO’s The Sopranos; one of the cooler heads among Tony Soprano’s (James Gandolfini) entourage, but still capable of surprising brutality under the right circumstances.

netflix lilyhammer
Steven Van Zandt in Netflix’s Lilyhammer

Netflix ushered in a new era with Lilyhammer; not just for their platform but, arguably, for all of television. The series wasn’t a massive hit, but within a year the streamer had a lot more original content streaming, including some of the platform’s biggest success stories. While there were shows with smaller footprints like Hemlock Grove, by 2013 game-changing Netflix wins like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black were streaming.

In spite of its impact on Netflix and media as a whole, Lilyhammer got whacked after its third season. As Entertainment Weekly reported at the time, Steven Van Zandt didn’t do too much to hide his disappointment with the cancellation, tweeting “Not my decision.”

While specific reasons were never revealed, as Looper recalled in 2018, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said the partnership with NRK had a good deal to do with Lilyhammer‘s demise. He said the deal made it “very difficult to maintain the level of global exclusivity and control that we hope to with our shows with [Lilyhammer].”

Along with doing a lot to usher in the streaming era, one could argue that a series that’s about to premiere owes a hefty thanks to Netflix’s Lilyhammer. Next month, Sylvester Stallone will premiere as Dwight “The General” Manfredi on Paramount+’s Tulsa King. On one hand, Stallone’s character is the exact opposite of Van Zandt’s Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano in that rather than turning on his fellow mobsters, in the beginning of Tulsa King he’s released from jail after refusing for decades to name names.

But on the other hand, in spite of the premise’s specifics, Tulsa King sounds like a spiritual successor to Netflix’s Lilyhammer. Like the earlier show, the new Sylvester Stallone series is a fish-out-of-water mobster tale, with the main character in a new place and needing to learn new ways of doing things.

While the series might not be on Netflix anymore, Steven Van Zandt says he may try to jumpstart a Lilyhammer revival. Responding to a follower on Twitter shortly after IndieWire’s report, Van Zandt said he planned to talk to NRK about either a Lilyhammer movie or a Season 4.