If you’re a fan of Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols in Orange Is The New Black, we doubt you will be disappointed with her performance in Russian Doll, which might as well be a spin-off series about Nicky’s life after Litchfield.
Lyonne’s character Nadia, is a self-destructive, drug-taking New Yorker with a lovable personality and a heart of gold. Just like Natasha, the series is quirky, cheeky and filled with charm and character.
Nonetheless, when the series begins we’re a little worried that it’s the same story we’ve seen before. First, Billy Murray delivered an iconic performance as a man on loop in Groundhog Day and more recently, Happy Death Day sabotaged the concept by killing off Tree Gelbman over and over again in corny death scenes.
This time round, Nadia keeps dying on repeat and gets brought back to the same moment, at her 36th birthday party. Sometimes, she survives a couple of days before dying in a tragic accident while other times, she barely makes it out of the party before falling down the stairs and twisting her neck. This time round though, there’s a twist. Nadia isn’t alone.
A couple of episodes in, just when we’re wondering where the series could go, Nadia bumps into Alan (Charlie Barnett). This is great for two reasons. First of all, he’s an intriguing new character and adds a major twist to the story. Secondly, his girlfriend is played by Dascha Polanco, aka Daya Diaz in Orange Is The New Black.
So as it turns out, Russian Doll did bring something new to the table and we suddenly find ourselves completely hooked. We’re no longer just watching for Natasha Lyonne, we’re watching because we genuinely want to know what the hell is going on and how or even if they will manage to break the painful time loop.
When characters start disappearing along with all mirrors and Alan’s pet fish, it becomes apparent that the series has some darker undertones that we weren’t anticipating. Just like an actual Russian doll, the series has layers upon layers and inside each is a new surprise. Along the way we’re laughing and shaking our heads at the dark humour and destructive quirks.
At the end of the day, Russian Doll is a hipster New York show filled with seductive tunes and too many cigarettes. It’s a quirky take on an overdone concept but just like Nadia, Natashia Lyonne manages to take something damaged, polish it off and transform it into something wonderful.