“Russian Doll” Review: Dying On Loop Just Made a Comeback

Natasha Lyonne in "Russian Doll"

Russian Doll is a quirky New York series which is deliciously binge-watchable.

The show was co-created by and stars Natasha Lyonne as the self-destructive, charming Nadia. It’s her 36th birthday and when she tires of the party she heads home with a man she’s just met. This is no love story though, as she gets hit by a car and killed before anything more than flirty banter can develop.

And just like that, she is back at the party at the start of the night, wondering what could have possibly happened. At first, she blames a cocaine-laced joint she smoked. When she realises that’s not it, she assumes she must be going mad. She even asks her mother-for-all-intensive-purposes to get her sectioned but still, she ends up dying on loop and waking up back at the party.

Just when we’re thinking we might be getting tired of watching Nadia hopelessly loop, the plot thickens. On her way to work, the elevator starts plummeting towards the ground and everybody panics. There is one man standing there as blasé as she is and when she reminds him he has moments left to live he calmly says: “I die all the time.” And just like that, Russian Doll isn’t just New York’s version of Ground Hog Day.

The rest of the series is exciting and the introduction of Alan (Charlie Barnett) makes us for more invested in the story. We don’t just want to know how Nadia will break the loop, we want to know why it’s happening and why it’s only happening to them. The subtle shots of rotting fruit indicate that time is still passing, just not for them.

Not every element of the story was as well crafted as it perhaps could have been. The disappearing mirrors and pets may have added to the mystery but also seemed to add little to the story once it concluded. At the end of the day, the cycle of deaths seemed to hold up best as a metaphor for two characters who are stuck in a rut, making the same mistakes over and over again. While Nadia can’t take the next step in her relationship and indulges in destructive behaviour to no end, Alan is unknowingly suffocating himself and his partner with his obsessive behaviour.

Overall, Russian Doll was a fun watch and we have no regrets for watching it all in one Natasha Lyone fuelled weekend. It’s quirky, gritty and adds a twist to the cycle of movies and TV series about characters who can’t stop dying and coming back.