You can watch the first season on Amazon Prime.

But you’ve got to pay for the second on Topic. Which made me reluctant to check it out, I’m already paying for too many services already. But in truth, I’ve watched all the great available series on the channels I’m already subscribed to. And the “New York Times” recommended “Lykkeland”:

“‘State of Happiness’

When to watch: Now, on Amazon (Season 1 only) and Topic(Seasons 1 and 2).

This Norwegian drama (in Norwegian and English, with subtitles) starts in 1969, and its characters are connected to the emerging oil industry, as divers, as secretaries, as executives, as farmers in danger of exploitation. Anna (Anne Regine Ellingsaeter) is our Peggy Olsen, straddling class and culture divides to forge a way in the business world.

‘State’ lands right between ‘Call the Midwife’ and ‘For All Mankind,’ shows about drive and social change, with no real villains but many good costumes. There’s also a refreshing lack of twists or schtick; all the energy and urgency of the show come from relatable human behavior. Incredible! If you liked ‘Deutschland 83,’ the newest season of ‘Borgen or PBS shows in which young people hold lambs and fall in love on lush green landscapes, watch this.”

That’s right, Lykkeland’s English title is “State of Happiness.”

Now I’ve never watched “Call the Midwife,” all those PBS classics. And I found “For All Mankind” a poor-man’s “Right Stuff,” the look was good, the script was so average. But I LOVED all the “Deutschlands.” And there’s nothing better than “Borgen,” and the new season was totally up to par, so I felt I had to check out “Lykkeland.”

Now I’ve been to Oslo twice. And it’s not like Sweden. Not everybody speaks amazing English. The country has a different vibe. Maybe because it used to be poor.

Not that I knew any of this, after all, I LIVE IN AMERICA!

The record company guys told me about the sixties, with one radio station and no money. It didn’t sound like Scandinavia, but Eastern Europe.

And then they found oil.

You see there’s a sovereign wealth fund. I’ll make it simple, the overall umbrella is called the “Government Pension Fund of Norway” and everybody in Oslo watches the number just like Angelenos watch the number of smoking deaths on that billboard on Santa Monica Boulevard. Everybody knows the number, you see Norway is RICH!

And despite the country running on oil bucks, it’s an environmental advocate’s paradise. Ten years ago I saw more Teslas in Oslo than America!

But as I said above, I only know all this because I went there.

You probably haven’t.

The two seasons of “Lykkeland” are the story of finding oil and how it plays out with the companies and government.

But it’s not a documentary. The facts are overlaid with identities, personalities, love, changes. It’s not ultra-dynamic and gripping, but you watch a few episodes and you say to yourself…THIS IS FANTASTIC!

Especially the second season. At first it was hard to get into. The years gone by, the changes. And then in the middle I was positively mesmerized, it was so well done.

The glue is Anne Regine Ellingsaeter. Born on a farm, she wants more. She’s engaged to a boy from a rich family and…

What’s it like being the scion of a rich family? That’s Christian’s dilemma.

And you know family businesses, the father starts it and subsequent generations are complacent and run them into the ground. That’s Fredrik, Christian’s father.

And Fredrik is married to Ingrid, who can’t lose her social status.

And the two Texas cowboys who work for Phillips 66 are only interested in oil and money, until…

The whole country is transformed by the oil wealth.

But the oil discovery in Norway was much later than in other countries, they could learn the lessons, forge an independent path, favoring the country and its citizens. Or, should they believe the energy titans who say that drilling is no place for amateurs and…

Do you take the corporate money and shut up?

Or do you stand up for truth?

And there’s plenty of money.

And the Americans believe their way works, that they have all the power, they don’t want to kowtow to the Norwegians. Especially in this offbeat town with a religious bent.

The relationships are done so well. What Anna goes through. And Anna knows business, she knows how to dot an “i” and cross a “t,” but she’s terrible at personal relationships.

You will get invested. You’ll happily pay the $5.99 to Topic for the second season.

And half of the show is in English for those who abhor subtitles, maybe more than that.

And honestly, I was debating whether to give “Lykkeland” a rave review. Because I know it’s not some people’s kind of show. It’s not slow, but it’s not fast. It’s not car crashes. But it is plenty intense, PLENTY intense. Both interpersonally and action-wise.

And that’s what I’m looking for. A show so true to life that I can’t think about anything else when I’m watching it, my mind doesn’t drift.

“Lykkeland” might take place in Norway, but I could see so many parallels to my own life, my own choices, it made me feel connected, even though in no way was I any of the people involved.

You can’t always trust the “New York Times”‘s recommendations. I’ve learned to research them before I watch them. Because I’ve had a couple of bad experiences. But “Lykkeland” researched well.

“Lykkeland” is a winner.

Either you’ll watch three or four episodes (they’re forty five minutes each) and say it’s not for you, or you’ll get hooked, and ultimately you’ll go on the emotional roller coaster.

They don’t make American shows this good.


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