In the blink of an eye (at least for this writer), Natasha Lyonne became a veteran in show business. Nearly twenty years ago, she burst onto the scene as Jessica, the sexually-experienced “counselor” for her high school friends in American Pie. Since then, she’s taken roles in films that went under the radar while making appearances in random television shows. Then, she returned to the mainstream with her role as prisoner Nicky Nichols in Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black.
Now, Lyonne has shown just how talented of an artist she is with her current work in Netflix’s Russian Doll. With this project, Lyonne went behind the camera, creating the story with Amy Poehler (Parks & Recreation, Sisters) and Leslye Headland (writer of Sleeping With Other People, About Last Night, and Bachelorette). The series tells the interesting story of cynical, newly 36-year-old Nadia (Lyonne), who keeps dying and returning to the birthday party thrown in her name. With each death and resurrection, Nadia attempts to uncover what is happening to her and how to break free from the continuous loop.
Russian Doll is a perfect blend of dark humor and sarcasm with a compelling, dramatic mystery. The writing deals with multiple aspects of life while centering on this specific character and her torturous ordeal. With each episode, the viewer learns something new about the protagonist, a woman with a harsh, cold outlook that locks up her feelings. Lyonne’s performance as Nadia is stellar. She perfectly embodies her with a quick-witted attitude that is balanced out with the depression inside that eats away at her.
Surrounded by a talented supporting cast (Charlie Barnett, Greta Lee, Rebecca Henderson, Jeremy Bobb, Ritesh Rajan, Yul Vasquez, Dascha Polanco and Elizabeth Ashley) and all-female directors like Jamie Babit, Headland and Lyonne herself, Russian Doll is an absolute triumph. A complex, existential approach to alternate universes while also delving into the personal anxieties born from past events. Topped off with its humor and engaging score, this is a series worthy of being added to the top of the watchlists of Netflix subscribers.