Russian Doll is one of the latest bets of Netflix, a series starring Natasha Lyonne, which also debuts as a creator with Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland. The series moves between satire, comedy and black humor, but also addresses much deeper issues. The truth is that, after having seen it, the sensations are strange and confusing.
Short episodes that keep the rhythm and work in a loop attract the viewer’s attention. When you watch the first episode, you do not know whether to continue or not, if it’s going to be a loop all the time or, at some point, the plot will take a radical turn. And that is precisely what invites you to remain stuck on the screen: uncertainty.
Nadia is a young New Yorker who just turned 36, is a programmer, works in the world of video games and has addiction problems. We attended her birthday party, but not for long, Nadia dies that very night suddenly. But the story does not end there, but it resuscitates and returns to the exact point where it had all begun: to his birthday party.
Are we going to see all the time a loop in which Nadia dies and resurfaces? Yes, but no, because Nadia remembers that she has died and will face several parallel endings.
Despite its structure, the series is revealing information, we are immersed in different adventures and, constantly, play with our doubts. In an infinite party and full of humor, Russian Doll presents an interesting adventure between life and death.
Russian Doll: characterizing a society
Although its promotion was not the most outstanding, the truth is that the series already has the applause of criticism. On the site Rotten Tomatoes, responsible for collecting some of the most relevant criticism, Russian Doll is already close to 100% approval, a more than significant figure.
Russian Doll is a risky bet, part of the supernatural to draw a reality. The series is built in New York City, an emblematic city that has served as the stage for countless series and films.
The urban model, cosmopolitan and a late youth with purchasing power seems to fit perfectly in this city. And is that to reside in a city like this, it takes more than a stable job.
The current ‘bohemia’ is no longer configured in cheap apartments in which different artists live. Now, creativity goes through other places like the internet or video games; and eccentricities, in some way, respond to consumption. This can be quite contradictory, however, what we see in the series responds to this new model of life.
Far from other series, such as Sex in New York, which idealized that life of modern and independent women with purchasing power, Russian Doll women move away from conventionalism.
Nadia is charismatic, smokes compulsively, takes drugs whenever she can and rarely goes to her job. However, you can afford an apartment in which to live alone and do not spend economic hardships.
Her friends also escape conventions, between orgies, parties and eccentricities see the flow of life. Although they are adults, many of their attitudes make us think of a certain aspect of childhood.
A way of life that borders on nihilism, in a city too frantic and inhabited by people who, like Nadia, get pleasure through excesses.
The fact that the characters smoke, although at first glance can pass as something unnoticed, as a simple support to this vision of life, is totally groundbreaking. Currently, we hardly find American series in which tobacco acquires a relevant role, in which a character is associated, immediately, to the cigarette.
The loop format between life and death, addictions and the attitude of the characters draw a very current society, very real and reinforce the idea of nihilism.
Nothing matters too much, we are all going to die and the consequences of our actions should not worry us, in this way, the characters adopt a hedonistic attitude towards life. That is to say, if tomorrow should not worry me, I can smoke, get high and let myself be carried away by pleasures.
Nadia, behind the armor
All this idea that we were thinking, somehow, begins to fall apart at the moment when Nadia is aware that their actions and their decisions may affect the future.
The loop goes beyond life and death to end up constructing different realities or possibilities that derive from Nadia’s actions. If he dies and returns to the point of departure, surely, it is that there is something pending, something that is not doing well at all.
Nadia, comically, must avoid the traps of death, from stairs, to cars and gas leaks, in order to endure alive as long as possible and resolve all their affairs. What seemed like a joke of fate begins to make sense, we are discovering new ‘layers’ of Nadia to finally realize that she is not alone in this peculiar adventure.
The various ‘awakenings’ are very reminiscent of the film Groundhog Day and serve the viewer to deepen Nadia’s personality.
The character has certain similarities with the actress who plays it, the charismatic Natasha Lyonne. Lyonne suffered serious addiction problems and, like Nadia, she found herself on the verge of death several times.
In reality, the loops serve to build -or discover- the various layers that make up the personality of the protagonist. A series of internal conflicts, voices from the past and memories have made a dent in the Nadia we see on the screen.
Under an image of eccentricity, addictions and verbiage hides much more. Nadia is unstable and, as the title of the series indicates, a Russian doll. His own surname, Vulvokov, evokes Russian roots and the idea of the doll is associated with the matrioshka. In other words, matrioshkas are dolls that, in their interior, hide replicas that are increasingly smaller and, on occasions, less detailed. These little dolls are hidden in a much larger doll.
Nadia, like a matrioshka, is not only what we see, but she keeps a large number of voices and ‘little Nadias’ from her past. A group that is in conflict and is not able to dialogue, is not able to conform a ‘Nadia’ in harmony. Therefore, each of the ‘awakenings’ will give us clues of the real Nadia and she will have to deal with her past and find that harmony.