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Must-Watch Winter Programming: 'Lillyhammer'

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Dec 30, 2013 | 1:00pm EST

Lilyhammer, Season 2 posterNetflix

It's winter and the weather is frigid in a lot of parts of the U.S. Snow covers the ground, which means a good portion of people are stuck inside. What better way to while away the time than to find shows to binge watch on Netflix? I found one that's really great - Lillyhammer, with Steven Van Zandt from The Sopranos. He also played in a band with some guy named Bruce Springsteen.

The premise of the show is a mafia hit man turns government informant after being shot at one too many times. He enters witness protection and chooses Lillehammer as his location. (He saw the 1994 Winter Olympics and was captivated by the place.) A good amount of fish out of water antics ensue.

Van Zandt is pretty much the most well-known actor on the show (though there is a surprise cameo in season two that made me chuckle). The cast is populated by a lot of Norwegian actors who more than hold their own, with Trond Fausa doing the best as Torgeir Lien. As the show progresses, you get to see these people as having their own quirks and foibles. I will warn you, there is a LOT of cursing, so if you have kids nearby, watch it on your laptop and wear headphones. Your family members will still likely look at you strangely as you sometimes fall out of your chair laughing like a loon.

The show mixes drama and humor equally, though it leans more toward the funny. Some scenes had me nearly hysterical (two words: ski jump). It also touches on other topics, like racism and immigration, especially with the Muslim population. There's also sex and an unexpected pregnancy; someone gets to be a first-time Dad at an older age.

Van Zandt is great as a mafioso that is completely out of his element in the relatively peaceful place of Lillehammer (the show's title is also a play on his character's dog's name). He meets a motley assortment of people from all walks, ranging from the town's chief of police to members of a biker gang.

And with all the snow that is on the ground for most of the show, it will also make you appreciate how much better you likely have it where you are.

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