The Reel Review
Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) is trapped in a time loop. She keeps dying, causing the loop to reset to the night of her 36th birthday party at her friend’s house. After a few shockingly sudden deaths, Nadia starts investigating the possible causes for this bizarre reoccurrence, and changing her actions, each time resulting in more enlightened versions of herself – sort of like an emotional version of a Russian Matryoshka doll.
This Netflix comedy series, written by Lyonne (American Pie, Orange Is the New Black), Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland, at first feels like little more than a cheap hybrid knockoff of the 1993 Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day and 2017’s Happy Death Day. But after a couple of episodes we see it is actually much more, delving into the cyclical nature of addiction and depression, as each death forces Nadia and fellow time loop traveler Alan (Charlie Barnett) to confront their innermost demons. The writing is crisp, the performances clever and despite a somewhat contrived and schmaltzy ending, this unusual, thought-provoking story about the importance of personal relationships is a compelling one.
• Russian Doll premiered on Netflix the day before Groundhog Day
• “Gotta Get Up” by Harry Nilsson was the producers’ first choice for Nadia’s “reset” song, but they also considered “Crazy Feeling” by Lou Reed, “Not Tonight” by Lil’ Kim and “No Fun” by The Stooges.
• Show creators pitched Russian Doll to Netflix as a three season series. If this one does well, expect to see it return.