Netflix | Now streaming
Starring Natasha Lyonne, Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Charlie Barnett, Elizabeth Ashley
Co-created by Natasha Lyonne and Amy Poehler, Russian Doll is one of Netflix's newest original series and has a simple premise with complex characters. Lyonne plays a tough New Yorker named Nadia Vulvokov (basically Lyonne IRL), who suddenly gets stuck in a time loop and must relive her 36th birthday after dying several times. She has no idea why this is happening to her, so she does the only logical thing and tries to get to the bottom of it. With each episode, it gets more and more compelling, so I won't spoil anything. What I can say, however, is that it takes the concept of time being relative and putting a twist on it.
Though the base premise of the program isn't at all original, it's Lyonne's performance as the lead character that makes the show great. She carries nearly the entire thing on her back and then some. Not only that, but it's well-written and it's worth calling out that every episode was penned and directed by a woman. Another marvelous aspect of Doll is the cinematography done by Chris Teague. He perfectly set the tone for each scene, whether it be comedic or tragic, which there are equal parts of. It also doesn't hurt that the music was perfectly curated.
Overall, it did seem a bit pretentious at the very start, but that thought was quickly diminished by the end of the first episode after realizing how great the writing was and how much more of Lyonne I wanted to see. Russian Doll is definitely worth the watch. It's only eight episodes, none of which last longer than 30 minutes, so it's a quick binge. At the heart of it all, the show highlights Nadia's close relationship with the city of New York and it focuses on some serious existential crises that are so captivating to watch. ★★★★
Review requested by Sophia S. of Las Vegas, NV.
★★★★★ Classic | ★★★★ Excellent | ★★★ Good | ★★ Fair | ★ Poor