In a Netflix Original version of Groundhog Day, Russian Doll puts a paradoxical twist on the reliving-the-same-day story line. Despite its unoriginal premise, witty protagonist Nadia Vulvokov draws you in to find, by the second episode, there’s more to this series than meets the eye.
Nadia is a sarcastic, chain-smoking New Yorker who finds herself reliving the same birthday over and over again. After a multitude of different responses- embracing it, denying it and trying to solve it, we meet the second victim to this unexplained time lapse. Tightly-wound neat freak Alan Zaveri. Intrinsically linked, we follow both characters on their separate journeys whilst trying to uncover the common denominator. Director Leslye Headland teases us with false leads, alluding to moral explanations as well as scientific ones.
Russian Doll certainly gets better as it goes along, with multiple plot twists layering to the story. Contemporary ideologies and modern humour litter the show, particularly through the humorous yet affectionate side characters Lizzy and Maxine. The complexity of the plot doesn’t bombard us with scientific jargon. Instead, it flows with darkly comedic ease. Russian Doll essentially takes an existential concept and turns it into an entertaining lesson on human nature.
Natasha Lyonne gives a wonderful, authentic performance as the strong-headed woman, using jokes to cover her crippling trust issues. She pretty much holds up the entire show with her pop culture references and rebellious attitude. Smart, funny and selfish- Headland never holds back on exposing the flaws of her characters. Evoking a more honest depiction of life and relationships. Tonally, Russian Doll never holds back on the bizarre, unafraid to mock itself with its own pretentiously artistic characters.
Sleek, funny and surprisingly clever, Russian Doll is an ultimate exploration on the human psyche. Or beyond that- the integral need for human companionship. But if deeper set meanings on humanity don’t interest you, it’s worth a watch for the uniquely entertaining story alone.