Russian Doll (TV series)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||24–30 minutes|
|Original release||February 1, 2019 –|
Russian Doll is an American comedy-drama web television series, created by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland, that premiered on February 1, 2019, on Netflix. The series follows a woman who repeatedly dies and relives the same night in an ongoing loop. It stars Lyonne, Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Charlie Barnett, and Elizabeth Ashley.
Russian Doll follows "a young woman named Nadia on her journey as the guest of honor at a seemingly inescapable party one night in New York City. She dies repeatedly while at this party and she is just trying to figure out what the hell is going on."
Cast and characters
- Natasha Lyonne as Nadia Vulvokov, a software engineer who finds herself reliving her 36th birthday party in an ongoing time loop wherein she repeatedly dies and the process begins again
- Greta Lee as Maxine, Nadia's friend, who throws her 36th birthday party
- Yul Vazquez as John Reyes, a real estate agent and Nadia's ex-boyfriend who is currently in the process of divorcing his wife
- Charlie Barnett as Alan Zaveri, a man who is also stuck in a time loop like Nadia
- Elizabeth Ashley as Ruth Brenner, a therapist and close family friend of Nadia and her mother. Kate Jennings Grant portrays a young Ruth in a guest appearance in the episode "The Way Out".
- Rebecca Henderson as Lizzy, an artist and friend of Nadia and Maxine
- Ritesh Rajan as Ferran, a friend of Alan's who works at the deli
- Jeremy Lowell Bobb as Mike Kershaw, a college literature professor with whom Beatrice is having an affair
- Dascha Polanco as Beatrice, Alan's girlfriend to whom he is going to propose
- Yoni Lotan as Ryan, a paramedic
- Brendan Sexton III as Horse, a homeless man whom Nadia helps out
- Max Knoblauch as a paramedic
- Ken Beck as a paramedic
- Waris Ahluwalia as War Dog, Maxine's drug dealer
- Jodi Lennon
- Burt Young as Joe, a tenant in Alan's apartment building
- David Cale as Dr. Daniel ("The Great Escape"), a man who concocts the drugs that War Dog sells
- Devin Ratray as Deli Customer ("The Great Escape"), a man whom Nadia interrupts as he is purchasing a lottery ticket
- Stephen Adly Guirgis as Peter ("The Great Escape"), a client of Ruth's undergoing marital problems
- Tami Sagher as Shifra ("A Warm Body"), a secretary for the rabbi at the Tifereth Israel Synagogue
- Jonathan Hadary as Rabbi ("A Warm Body"), the rabbi at the Tifereth Israel Synagogue whom Nadia seeks out to ask questions about the building where her party was thrown
- Lillias White ("Alan's Routine") as Alan's mother, Dr. Zivari
- Crystal Monee Hall ("Alan's Routine") as Lizzy's girlfriend Jordana
- JD Samson ("Alan's Routine")
- Michelle Buteau ("Superiority Complex")
- Jocelyn Bioh as Claire ("Superiority Complex")
- Chloë Sevigny as Lenora Vulvokov ("The Way Out"), Nadia's mother with whom she had a difficult childhood
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"Nothing in This World Is Easy"||Leslye Headland||Story by : Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland, & Amy Poehler |
Teleplay by : Leslye Headland
|February 1, 2019|
|Nadia takes a hit and experiences her first reset. She insists her wacky experience can be explained by the drugs but little does she know it goes much deeper.|
|2||"The Great Escape"||Leslye Headland||Natasha Lyonne & Amy Poehler||February 1, 2019|
|Nadia has made it through the night without her dying and her life restarting in in the bathroom. She is convinced that it is the cocaine she took last night that's made her hallucinate because if it isn't the drugs it's her.|
|3||"A Warm Body"||Leslye Headland||Allison Silverman||February 1, 2019|
|Nadia's determination leads her to seek out a Rabbi in order to gain some kind of explanation but she can't do it alone. Alongside this her search for oatmeal (her cat) continues and in the process she befriends a homeless man.|
|4||"Alan's Routine"||Jamie Babbit||Cirocco Dunlap & Leslye Headland||February 1, 2019|
|After meeting Alan at the end of the previous episode, we follow his routine for the previous day. Alan rendezvous with his girlfriend but soon his daily routine goes downhill quickly... until he meets Nadia.|
|5||"Superiority Complex"||Jamie Babbit||Jocelyn Bioh||February 1, 2019|
|Alan shows up at Nadia's birthday and they try to work together to figure out what is going on. Alan walks in and has an unwanted confrontation with Mike. Alan and Nadia get no further in solving their puzzle and why they are connected.|
|6||"Reflection"||Jamie Babbit||Flora Birnbaum||February 1, 2019|
|Things are getting desperate. It is more than just their own existence at stake! Nadia's past creeps back to haunt her and Alan's reoccurring day is doing the same. Could this be something of importance?|
|7||"The Way Out"||Leslye Headland||Story by : Allison Silverman |
Teleplay by : Allison Silverman & Leslye Headland
|February 1, 2019|
|Possible solutions are clicking into place. With the steady disappearance of family and friends, Nadia now realises what she needs to do. However complications need overcoming.|
|8||"Ariadne"||Natasha Lyonne||Natasha Lyonne||February 1, 2019|
|Alan and Nadia have each others back and they look out for each other until the crucial moment. Will crossing their paths put them out of their misery?|
On September 20, 2017, it was announced that Netflix had given the production a series order for a first season consisting of eight episodes. The series was created by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland, all of whom were expected to executive produce. Headland wrote the first episode, and she and Lyonne were set to serve as writers for the series. Production companies involved with the series were slated to consist of Universal Television, Paper Kite Productions, Jax Media, and 3 Arts Entertainment. On December 14, 2018, it was announced that the series would premiere on February 1, 2019.
Alongside the initial series order announcement, it was confirmed that Natasha Lyonne would star in the series. Alongside the premiere announcement, it was confirmed that Greta Lee, Yul Vazquez, Elizabeth Ashley, and Charlie Barnett had joined the main cast and that Chloë Sevigny, Dascha Polanco, Brendan Sexton III, Rebecca Henderson, Jeremy Bobb, Ritesh Rajan, and Jocelyn Bioh would make guest appearances.
The song "Gotta Get Up" by American singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson was used as the "reset" song each time the character Nadia dies and is resurrected. Lyonne explained to The New York Times that in choosing the song she was struck by the "buoyant doomsday quality" of Nilsson's life. Other contenders for the reset song included "Not Tonight" by Lil' Kim, "Crazy Feeling" by Lou Reed and "No Fun" by The Stooges. Though Netflix finally obtained the usage rights to Nilsson's song, the cost of using it so many times took up a significant portion of the music budget. His estate also limited how many times the song could be used. According to music supervisor Brienne Rose, the production was able to "find a balance between the maximum number of uses and what the budget would allow." The "reset" song utilized for the character Alan was Beethoven's "Piano Concerto No. 4 In G Major".
On January 9, 2019, Netflix released the first trailer for the series.
On January 23, 2019, the series held its official premiere at the Metrograph theater in New York City, New York. Those in attendance included creator Jocelyn Bioh, Taylor Schilling, Natasha Lyonne, Fred Armisen, Amy Poehler, Chloë Sevigny, Greta Lee, Dascha Polanco, Rosie O'Donnell, Danielle Brooks, Laura Prepon, and David Harbour.
The series has received critical acclaim. On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds a 98% approval rating with an average rating of 8.55 out of 10 based on 58 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Russian Doll may be stuck in a time loop, but this endlessly inventive series never repeats itself as it teeters on a seesaw of shifting tones – from fatally funny to mournfully sad – that is balanced with exhilarating moxie by an astonishing Natasha Lyonne." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the series a score of 89 out of 100 based on 24 critics, indicating "universal acclaim."
Alicia Lutes of IGN gave the first season a 10/10. Praising the series, she adds that it is "an inventive, unpredictable ride that will easily stand as one of the best shows of the year." In a positive review, Rolling Stone's Alan Sepinwall awarded the series 4½ stars out of 5 and praised it saying, "That blend of tones, and the controlled mania of Lyonne's brilliant performance, makes Russian Doll feel like something wholly new, even as it cops to its many influences." The New York Times' James Poniewozik was similarly approving saying, "Russian Doll is lean and snappily paced; it even managed the rare feat, in the era of streaming-TV bloat, of making me wish for a bit more." Collider's Haleigh Foutch was equally enthusiastic giving the series a rating of 5 out of 5 stars and applauding it saying, "It's pure binge-watching magic; a show that's not only expertly designed to compel viewers to the next episode but invests just as much in the integrity of story and character." TIME's Judy Beerman described the series as "cerebral yet propulsive" and praised its many layers calling it, "2019's best new show to date."
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- Sepinwall, Alan (January 29, 2019). "'Russian Doll' Review: Natasha Lyonne Is a Revelation". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
- Poniewozik, James (January 31, 2019). "'Russian Doll': Repetitive Death Syndrome". The New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
- Foutch, Haleigh (February 1, 2019). "'Russian Doll' Review: Netflix's Comedy Is a Wickedly Clever Fable of Morality & Mortality". Collider. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
- Berman, Judy (January 24, 2019). "Netflix's Russian Doll Is 2019's Best Show So Far". Time. Retrieved February 9, 2019.