Why ‘Russian Doll’ Should be Your Next Show to Binge Watch

Bella Biafore, Writer

Russian Doll on Netflix, starring Natasha Lyonne (who also serves as the series’ co-producer) focuses on a mind-bending journey through intertwining timelines that is both bizarre and heartwarming.

While the series’ first few episodes are rather perplexing, since the plot doesn’t start to unravel until halfway through the season, Russian Doll still finds a way to suck you into its time warp and wrap you up in its dark comedy and chilling ambiance.

The story follows a woman named Nadia, whose sarcastic personality and hard exterior begins to crack open when she dies…yes, she, the main character, dies. In fact, she sometimes dies multiple times a day, reliving the night of her 36th birthday party over and over again.

During these continuous deaths, Nadia is haunted by childhood trauma, her mundane everyday life and a plethora of existential-crisis inducing experiences.

The fabrics of Nadia’s story begin to overlap themselves when she meets Alan, played by Charlie Barnett. He is stiff, deeply broken and life itself seems to have oozed out of him completely–his actions are almost inscrutable. But, as the series continues, it’s obvious Alan is trying to get a grip on who he is as a person, even though his internal struggles cloud his brain.

After discovering they’re both experiencing similar phenomenons, Nadia and Alan make a pact to find each other after every death in an attempt to put the pieces back in place. In the meantime, they develop a powerful friendship neither of them really expected, considering their personalities seem like they would clash more than come together.  

Through this process, each deadly experience leads to part of their lives disappearing–from the mundane to the larger aspects of their existence.

Nadia finds herself at her birthday party (again), except this time something’s different. There’s no more chatter filling the air. As she walks out of the bathroom she finds herself completely alone, besides her friend Maxine, hazily dancing in the middle of her empty living room, eerie music echoing through the halls. Even the furniture seemed to have disappeared entirely.

With a lot of digging deep into their fears and hidden emotions, the answer to break the cycle becomes obvious; they have to come face to face with their inner demons in order to go back to ‘normal’ life. Nadia blames herself for her mother’s death, while Alan struggles with the idea that his first death ended in suicide.

In a race against time before everything disappears, Nadia has to say farewell to her childhood troubles, while Alan must retrace steps back to his suicide to find the answers he desperately needs.

After dozens of deaths, Nadia finally is able to come to the realization that, while her past will never vaporize like she wishes it would, she has the power to take control of the perspective she has on life. Even more so, she realizes that sometimes it’s okay to have someone join in on the journey.

From one of the last scenes in the series, when Nadia and Alan meet again on a rooftop in their interlaced realities, he says, “You promise if I don’t jump, I’ll be happy?” And to that Nadia replies, “Absolutely not—but I can promise you that you will not be alone.”