At face value, Netflix’s ‘Russian Doll’ seems a little too reminiscent of Groundhog Day, Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day, or even that Supernatural episode where Sam keeps reliving the same Tuesday while Dean keeps on dying. The similarities start and end with the stories repeating, however, since this show is packed, there’s a lot more than that.
The all-female cluster of Amy Poehler, Leslye Headland, and star of the series, Natasha Lyonne (Nadia), brings a whole new treatment to the foundation of the show. It could’ve easily been knitted with the formula of the loop-structured features we’ve seen before, but Russian Doll managed to be raunchy, real, and farce without compromising quality.
Lives after death
Russian Doll has a rather thin premise — beginning with computer-programmer Nadia re-experiencing her birthday party at a friend’s loft in New York City and ending in the same bathroom after her different (but equally grisly) deaths. This pattern continues with the narrative slightly changing as Nadia slowly comes to terms with the side-quests, mistakes, and trials she’s got in futile attempts to carry on to the next day.
The story picks up when Nadia meets Alan (Charlie Barnett) who is going through the same loop but is ultimately the piece of the puzzle completing the hard shell that she is. Suffice it to say that where Nadia’s more inquisitive, seeking, and fussy, Alan’s more reserved, scared, and stagnant. They made for an interesting duo facing the realities and challenges of both dying and waking up to the same day recurrently.
A delicate treatment of the complicated
According to lead actress and co-showrunner Lyonne, the show is a mix of reality and fiction. It’s rooted with the personal tales of her almost dying due to addiction — which is pretty evident in the flow of the series.
It’s shown in the same manner the writers handled Nadia’s grief over her mother’s early death, her mental health struggles, her self-sabotaging tendencies, or even Alan’s type-A personality. It’s incredibly important to translate how all these complexities pan out in the blanketed feeling of a never-ending succession, which Russian Doll successfully achieved.
It’s a poignant storyline of wanting to break the cycle when all you know is keeping your head above water, regardless of other people and instances factored into the multitudes of life’s moving parts. It’s well worth the hype, appreciation, and time for binge-watching on your downtime.
Watch the trailer here:
Photo from Netflix