It feels like Netflix is always adding new shows and movies. One of these is titled “Russian Doll,” and tells the story of Nadia, a chain-smoking, mentally-ill woman from Long Island who is caught in a surreal time loop after being struck by a car at her 36th birthday party.
As the show goes on, Nadia keeps dying from bad strokes of luck. An air conditioning unit falls on her head, or she falls down a flight of stairs, but, after she dies, she always resets at her 36th birthday party. After every death, she makes it further in her day adding more to the storyline, invoking the image of the titular russian doll. Nadia tries to tell people about this strange event happening to her, but everyone thinks she’s crazy. Everyone, that is, except for a man named Alan who happens to suffer from the same unfortunate fate. The two search together for answers as to why and how this keeps happening to them.
While I think the story is entertaining, it could definitely use some improvement. The plot is a little far-fetched and it doesn’t make much sense at times. Maybe it’s a personal oversight, but with shows like this there typically is a deeper meaning to be found, and I just don’t see it. It felt like the series was one long “Black Mirror” episode, but instead of a classic “Black Mirror” ending where the audience is brought to some crazy realization, “Russian Doll” ended without any significant meaning. Furthermore, the writers didn’t leave a cliffhanger for a second season to jump off from. It definitely felt like the show was only intended for a single-season run.
But don’t let that stop you from watching “Russian Doll.” Natasha Lyonne, who plays Nadia, was the perfect choice for the role. With a classic Long Island accent and her suitably wacky personality, she added a wonderful touch of humor throughout the show, even when in situations that didn’t initially seem humorous at all. The writers also did a wonderful job of developing both Nadia and Alan into something other than people who just don’t have a lot going for them. Nadia begins as a drug-abusing, carefree 36-year-old woman, while Alan is mentally unstable after going through a traumatic end to a relationship. By the end, though, they are more fully realized individuals and have learned to find comfort in each other.
Besides the hiccup mentioned above, this is a very entertaining series that deserves to be watched. “Russian Doll” is a solid new show if you have the time to dedicate to it.