Binge Break: Don’t Sleep on Russian Doll

Netflix's Russian Doll is one of the best-plotted shows that are up for Emmys this year. It's also completely written and directed by women.

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Binge Break: Don’t Sleep on Russian Doll

Kayli Reese, Managing News Editor

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Nobody warned me that I had been sleeping on Russian Doll for months.

The Netflix series, created by Leslye Headland, Amy Poehler, and the show’s star Natasha Lyonne, is up for multiple Emmys on Sept. 22, including Outstanding Comedy Series and a Lead Actress nod for Lyonne. Will it take home anything? Not likely. Is it the black horse win that everyone would celebrate? Absolutely.

Russian Doll is about a woman named Nadia, played by Lyonne, that keeps dying and reliving the day of her birthday party over and over again. There’s lots of great things about this show, including the constant use Harry Nilsson’s “Gotta Get Up,” Lyonne as Nadia going to great lengths to avoid using the stairs, and the line “Thursday! What a concept!” However, everyone needs to watch this show for one simple reason: it’s completely written and directed by women.

Is it a coincidence that a show that feels fresher and more human than anything that’s been onscreen in a while boasts only women at its helm? Maybe. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

The show’s brilliance lies in Nadia, a chaotic everything of a woman who doesn’t freak out as much as one may expect when she figures out she keeps dying and reliving the same day. Instead, she simply says, “The universe is trying to [expletive] with me, and I refuse to engage,” and tries to figure out what’s happened while also looking for her lost cat, Oatmeal.

Nadia and her delightfully raspy voice go through the show at high-speed, delivering fantastic one-liners and screams of frustration when she keeps dying via falling down the stairs. Lyonne is magnetic, a force both highly intimidating and oddly comforting. She makes Nadia’s more tender moments, including her every interaction with therapist Ruth and her flashbacks to life with her mother, incredibly raw and moving to watch.

Related: Binge Break: Fleabag deserves all of the top TV awards

Despite its many appealing factors, Russian Doll is the type of show you have to pay strict attention to in order to grasp every moment. Even then, catching all of the hidden clues and Easter eggs seems impossible (which is part of the script’s brilliance). It’s likely no one will fully realize everything packed into each episode until there’s more answers to the question at hand: why this strange event is happening to Nadia. However, some events have been picked up by fans already, like the fact that the character Alan, who also keeps dying and living the same day over again, passes by Nadia way before he’s ever actually introduced to the audience.

The contrast and companionship between Nadia and Alan is a highlight of the series, even if they don’t meet until half of the episodes are over. While Nadia takes a more clinical approach to figuring out what’s happening, Alan embraces it, finding stability in knowing what’s going to happen when. They balance each other out perfectly, which makes the ending of the season that much harder on both the characters and the viewers.

It’s such a well-written, well-acted show that everyone needs to experience for themselves. Lyonne is a powerhouse, and I must watch everything she’s ever been in immediately. It’s a tough race for Lead Actress in a comedy series this year (literally any of them could win, and I would be thrilled), but if Lyonne doesn’t win this year, I’d be shocked if she didn’t take home the trophy sometime sooner rather than later.

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