Russian Doll

The setup for this Netflix series is pretty simple.  Nadia keeps dying at various points, then restarting from her most recent birthday party.  The Groundhod Day mechanic has been used mainly in sci-fi (ARQ was solid) but here we have more of a black comedy.  Well, given Natasha Lyonne’s past issues, perhaps this is more of a twisted biography.

Nadia is not a sympathetic character in the hero sense.  She’s a messed up addict, with some pretty freaky friends, and generally wants to be left alone.  She has a mouth that makes sailors blush.  She’s not even an anti-hero, since her drives are nearly entirely self-preservation.  But, and this part is what makes the series, she’s human and makes reasonable decisions.  I mentioned this in the previous post about Dragon Prince season 2, how there was no growth, and only the plot made the story move.  That is not the case here. Really solid.

natasha-lyonne-russian-doll-netflix

This picture starts every new life

Nadia certainly has a loner persona, and that this only effects her makes it all the more odd.  What’s really interesting is that if you pay attention, you start noticing details.  Those details become much more explicit as the story progresses.  More than that, and it’s spoiler territory.  Let’s just say that as much as it’s binge-worthy, you still need to pay attention.

I’d be remiss to not talk about the soundtrack.  It’s a crazy eclectic mix of genres – Beethoven, Cults, John Maus – add just the right amount of mood to the scenes.

Interesting side note is that Amy Poehler is involved as a series co-creator.  You can see the influences in the absurdist in-your-face dry humor.  Natasha Lyonne’s sarcastic wit is in every scene, and her drive to explore every relationship, multiple times, is refreshing.  Greta Lee in particular…she’s the Ned Ryerson and her delivery of the same line, multiple times, doesn’t ever seen to get under the skin.

There are plenty of things to watch on Netflix, most of them mediocre.  It’s nice to be able to find something that really does a great job all around.  Solid recommendation.  Just not with the kids.

5 thoughts on “Russian Doll

  1. My wife and I binged through Russian Dolls over the weekend. She was skeptical, but was hooked around the second episode. We both started floating theories and looking at changes with each cycle as it went on. It was definitely worth burning through. But, at the end, we had to argue about whether or not there ought to be a season 2. For me, I think it stood well enough on its own and ought to stay there. No need to try and tack more onto the story. How would you even? But my wife wants more Nadia as a character. We’ll see I guess. If it got enough people watching somebody will want to make another season somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This reminded me of a rated R/MA Seinfeld so just couldn’t hack it after about 15mins. Now Umbrella Academy on the other hand – also great soundtrack and a few standout actors, fun story with enough twists to keep you coming back for the next episode. The kid who played #5 and Klaus were amazing, On the other hand the “star” Ellen Page looked like she walked onto the set in her street clothes and read lines off a prompter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can understand that vibe. It plays the dark comedy card really strong to start. It takes about half the first episode to start digging in the layers, and by the end of Ep2 you really get a feel for it.

      Liked by 1 person

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