I just finished watching the new Netflix series, Russian Doll, created by Natasha Lyonne (from Orange is the New Black), Amy Pohler and Leslye Headland. I’d give it a B+ rating, and overall it was quite the satisfying experience…
First off, I love Netflix shows that are less than a half hour per episode. The Russian Doll episodes range from 24 to 30 minutes, and there’s just something about ending the day with a quick iPhone fix to take your mind off the day’s madness. I feel like watching 5 minutes of a top Colbert, Kimmel or Fallon clip doesn’t do the job, but watching a full hour at the end of the day gets you to bed late and thinking, “why did I stay up to midnight to watch that?!!!”.
I digress. Russian Doll is not a mainstream Netflix series for everyone, it’s not Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black or House of Cards. This is a trippy, indie movie-like experience that is for those that like an edgy, thoughtful mind$%)@. If you’ve read anything about it or watched the trailer- they fool you into thinking it’s a 2019 version of Bill Murray’s, Groundhog Day. Not so much. It’s a little bit Kubrick, a little bit Christopher Nolan and even a bit Hitchcock.
Who would have expected this from the quirky drug addict character from Orange is the New Black, Natasha Lyonne? I was pleasantly surprised, and there’s a whole lot more in that package than I expected. She helped create an uber intellectual, clever series here. And Amy Pohler’s contribution is the icing on the cake, she adds a dose of comic relief that can be a nice break while your head is spinning from the rabbit hole this one goes down.
But what I want to give Russian Doll the most credit for is how it mirrors life itself, by posing a number of those big ‘unanswerable questions’. To me- it’s the unanswerable questions (“why are we here?”, “what’s our purpose?”, “what’s the key to life?”) that are the most interesting to explore. And in these little half hour snippets, she tackles those in a most interesting fashion. And as any great artist would do, they don’t attempt to serve up those answers in a nice, pretty package. They leave them as open as the sky is wide, and leave you scratching your head saying… “what was that all about?”. Truly brilliant.