Netflix’s Russian Doll is one of those out-of-nowhere success stories the streaming service seems to occasionally stumble upon — an almost perfect, beautifully constructed season of television you’ll struggle to not devour in one big gulp.
It’s also a brilliant showcase for Natasha Lyonne, its co-creator and star, who also wrote and directed episodes across the eight-episode first season. She plays Nadia, a woman who, on the night of her 36th birthday, gets hit by a taxi and dies. And then she immediately “comes to” at her birthday party again. She’s stuck in a time loop, and no matter how far she makes it into that loop, she always returns to the birthday party once she dies. Sometimes she dies gruesomely; sometimes, hilariously.
That’s really all you should know about this wonderful series — indeed, you may know too much already — because its many surprises are part of the fun. Fortunately, the whole thing is paced like lightning, with no episodes longer than a half-hour and many clocking in at around 25 minutes. And Lyonne is joined by great performers in front of the camera but also behind it, where she’s joined by co-creators Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland (a brilliant director responsible for helming most of the season’s episodes). But the real joy of Russian Doll is watching the series tackle the weight of trauma and how hard it can be to overcome, both metaphorically and literally.
“Russian Doll’s investment in its characters makes it a binge-worthy show that demands an immediate rewatch.” Danette Chavez, The A.V. Club
Metacritic score: 89 out of 100
Where to watch: Russian Doll is streaming on Netflix.