Russian Doll: a mind-boggling season

Back to Article
Back to Article

Russian Doll: a mind-boggling season

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story


The time-loop trope. We’ve seen it in Before I Fall, Groundhog Day, and Happy Death Day. The familiar pattern of someone reliving the same day over and over and over until they learn some sort of universal message has become a commonplace movie idea, and occasionally an episode in a supernatural series. Yet, Netflix’s Russian Doll proves to reinvent the idea and create the most fantastic tale containing a time-loop I have ever experienced.

The short Netflix show features eight episodes focusing on the titular Nadia on her birthday, where she keeps dying and waking up in the bathroom of her friend’s house during her birthday party. She tries to think of every possible explanation for this confusing, supernatural event, but finally concludes that something is not right with the universe and she has to fix it.

She comes to this conclusion with the help of her newfound friend who shares her hopeless, dying fate, Alan. They grow closer as they attempt to discover how they are connected, and finally find that helping each other is exactly what they need to get past their continuous deaths.

There are humorous deaths, like the many times Nadia manages to fall down the stairs, no matter how hard she avoids those around her, to the point where she must begin to go down the fire escape in each new day. And then, there are the deaths that stopped my heart, such as Nadia getting shot by her grandmother, who mistook her for a burglar.

Both Nadia and Alan are deeply flawed characters, and by the end of the season they are not perfect, but they’ve grown. In their own respective ways, they learn that sometimes they need to depend on other people to get by and a solitary life is not a viable option for anyone. Although their personalities range to each extreme of anarchy and control, they both discover a happy medium may be what is required to get by.

Russian Doll is a nod to the universal truth that for most of society, people are innately social and need some sort of connection to get through. Someone who will listen, who will try to understand, who will have your back when you have theirs.

Nadia and Alan’s patchwork friendship does not work in spite of, but because of their faults. All the way to the last episode, where they are literally able to go back to the moment where each of them were at their worst and to save their lives, doing everything they could for the person they care deeply about. Pre time-loop Nadia and Alan could never have accomplished such a task.

The comedic, dark turn of the trope was a surprise, and I welcomed every absurd second of it. Have fun watching Russian Doll!

P.S. – Good luck keeping Gotta Get Up out of your head.