Russian Doll is worth watching if:
- You like shows that put a different spin on the traditional show structure. (ex: The Good Place)
- You still get excited by the ‘re-live the same moment over-and-over’ Groundhog Day format.
- You loved Natasha Lyonne’s character in Orange is the New Black.
Russian Doll is not worth watching if:
- You’re looking for more comedy than drama.
- You aren’t patient when it comes to plot progression.
- You dislike other Netflix dramedies like GLOW and Orange is the New Black.
- Great acting, especially from Natasha Lyonne.
- Smart writing and subtle humor that is to be appreciated.
- Takes some time but the story gets quite interesting.
- Plot moves a bit too slowly from episode-to-episode.
- More could have happened in season 1.
- The soundtrack is awesome, but its use could be more impactful.
score: 80% CHILLIN
With just 8 episodes at 25 mins each in season 1, it doesn’t take much investment to get into Natasha Lyonne’s new show.
The Netflix Original Russian Doll doesn’t just star Lyonne, but was also co-created by the longtime lead actress from Orange is the New Black, Netflix’s arguably most successful show to date.
If you’ve seen her in Orange, you have a perfect idea of what to expect from Lyonne in Russian Doll. Lyonne plays her character Nadia the exact same way as she does Nicky, with all the same self-deprecating, rough exterior, smart-talking New Yorker swagger she so naturally portrays. (This one’s set in NYC) Nadia even enjoys various drugs and has the same outgrown curly hair.
But Nadia’s not an inmate at Litchfield Penitentiary, she’s a successful video game & software developer in her mid-3os. (One of the many progressive elements of the show’s script)
And besides a troubled childhood, things have gone mostly right for Nadia; until she dies on her 36th birthday that is.
Like many a film before it, whether it’s Groundhog Day, or more aptly Edge of Tomorrow, SOMETHING happens upon her death, and she’s brought right back to the party her friends were hosting for her.
Then she dies. Then she’s reset again. And so on and so forth.
This is the main mechanic that season 1 revolves around. (So you better not be sick of that plot device.) The problem with the first season of Russian Doll is that the early episodes lean a bit too heavily on this dying / reset mechanic, without combining enough else to keep you interested.
It’s a show that gets better the deeper you get into it, as the plot finally starts to go in interesting directions and things from earlier episodes gain deeper meaning.
Fortunately, the minute-to-minute acting is so good that you shouldn’t mind if things take a while to get going. Both the acting and script feel natural and effortless, nothing ever feels forced.
Also since the season is only 8 episodes long, “a while” is relative; things should start to pick up after the first hour or so of total runtime.
If you want a show that’s well-acted, can be finished in under 4 hours, and is both fun and serious at the same time, Russian Doll is for you comrade.