Series Review: Russian Doll

 

Russian-Doll-Netflix

Natasha Lyonne has to live the same day over and over in Netflix’s Russian Doll (Credit: imdb.com)

The Groundhog Day theme has been done way too many times in film and television right? Wrong. Netflix’s new binge-worthy series, Russian Doll, provides audiences with a brand new take on the concept.

Created and produced by Natasha Lyonne (American Pie, Orange Is the New Black), Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation) and Leslye Headland (Bachelorette), Russian Doll introduces us to Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) as she tries to escape from a 36th birthday party thrown for her by her friends in New York City.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t get very far. After running into the road to try to catch her missing cat, Oatmeal, Nadia is hit and killed by a taxi before finding herself back in the bathroom at her birthday party where she was at the beginning of the episode.

Throughout the following episodes, we see Nadia die in a variety of ways including falling down the stairs (multiple times), drowning and getting caught up in an elevator accident. Each time she returns to the same bathroom and the same song (you will either love or hate Gotta Get Up by Harry Nilsson by the end of the series) to repeat the same day over and over again.

As the show progresses, we see Nadia try to navigate her way through the situation and Natasha Lyonne is a joy to watch. Her character is quirky, she speaks her mind and she is incredibly funny. Even during her worst meltdowns, she manages to come out with some memorable one-liners. This makes her actions and interactions with other characters interesting yet Nadia is still level-headed enough that the audience can relate to her and care about her as she goes through this journey.

Although Natasha Lyonee’s performance as Nadia is engaging enough on its own to keep you interested, the show’s storyline takes an unexpected twist several episodes in, which totally changes the way you believe things might go, in fact, it changes the whole structure of the show. It becomes much more complex than someone just repeating the same day over and over and I guarantee you won’t be able to stop watching at this point.

Yes, Natasha Lyonne is fantastic and the twists and turns in the narrative do well at keeping the audience enagaged, but the best thing about Russian Doll is that the show doesn’t just focus on the groundhog day element, it explores the traumas haunting the main character and how she deals with this throughout the whole experience. The looping of each death could be a symbol of the fact that Nadia must learn that she has to face her demons, or she will keep facing the same issues over and over again, just like she keeps having to face the same day.

Natasha Lyonne has described the show as a “bizarre version of an autobiography” as the series touches on some issues she has faced throughout her life. This makes sense as her performance and the lines she delivers are entirely believable. You can tell this is a series that means something to her and that she and the other creators have tried hard to ensure the show has heart and will draw people in.

There are so many layers to Russian Doll and it’s a pleasure to watch as they are peeled back as the show progresses. Each episode is only 24 to 30 minutes long, which you wouldn’t think was long enough to become so engaged with characters in a show. But the perfect combination of clever writing and sharp, interesting dialogue, as well as the unique interactions between the characters, makes it possible.

You can watch the trailer for Russian Doll below.

WARNING: This trailer contains bad language which may be unsuitable for younger viewers.

 

 

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