WILW: Russian Doll
I don’t know what is going on with Netflix the past few months, but they have been absolutely killing it on the original content front. The Haunting of Hill House, Roma, and Russian Doll each function as a powerhouse in their own right, but today I want to talk just a little bit about the latter of the three, an 8 part show about a woman named Nadia who finds herself reliving her birthday party, death (and the hours leading up to it) in an infinite loop, a la Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
Now, a quick word about that.
I love Groundhog Day. I loved it from the minute I first saw it, and have come to appreciate it even more in the years that followed. One of the things I appreciated most about Russian Doll was the way in which the show-runners paid homage to Groundhog Day while also sidestepping all of the expectations and skepticism inherent to that legacy. Dare I say it, Russian Doll takes the old formula (not-so-great person gets stuck in a time loop and isn’t allowed to leave until they improve themselves) and makes it better. Groundhog Day was a dark comedy. Russian Doll is a dark comedy, a horror series, a quirky romance, and an existential crisis put to screen.
I don’t want to say too much about this series except that it is one of my favorite things I’ve ever watched. IGN gave this show a 10/10, and I couldn’t agree more. It is, quite literally, perfect. No second, no minute, no scene feels unnecessary. The acting is impeccable. The story is a wonderful little puzzle box. It boasts one of the best soundtracks since the Guardians of the Galaxy first boogied into theaters in 2014. And the best part is? Episodes run 30 minutes, making for easy, bite-sized watching.
The only warning I have is that the show can dip into the macabre. I loved how Russian Doll constantly flirted with a deep sense of existential horror, but if you’re not prepared it might catch you unawares. Don’t approach this expecting a lighthearted romp. If you have Netflix, do yourself a favor and watch this show. Hats off to Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland for this true art on the little screen.