fbpx
19/05/2019 Communication Science news and articles

Review: Russian Doll

If you could do it all again, would you? The new Netflix series, ‘Russian Doll’, explores this idea with a twist.


With its Groundhog Day-like premise, Netflix’s Russian Doll originally didn’t really appeal to its skeptics. After all, the idea of a person continuously reliving their last few hours on Earth is fairly common in fiction; the 2017 horror film Happy Death Day and its recent sequel Happy Death Day 2 U also utilizes the same premise. But true to its title, Russian Doll diverges when it sets its characters Nadia and Alan (played by Natasha Lyonne and Charlie Barnett, respectively) on a path that requires them to peel back layers of their self-destructive behaviors and ultimately forces them to come to terms with their lives.

The story opens with Nadia’s 36th birthday party, which she promptly escapes after announcing that she’s “staring down the barrel of [her] own mortality”. After a hookup with a man, she leaves to look for her cat and is hit by a car. She suddenly finds herself in the bathroom, ready to go out to the same party… and this repeats over and over again as she dies, whether it’s by breaking her neck on the stairs or getting caught in a gas explosion.

With every death, Nadia attempts to seek out why she keeps looping, to little success. During one particular death in a falling elevator, she meets Alan, a man who relives the night he proposes to his girlfriend. Together, they attempt to stop the cycle, while discovering things they didn’t truly know about themselves.

A refreshing premise
With every loop, more of Nadia’s personality and backstory is revealed; at the start, she’s not the person you’d want to be best friends with. Disenchanted and selfish, she spirals into a life of drug-induced hazes and failed relationships to evade the issue at the core of her psyche: childhood trauma. While Groundhog Day and similar films and shows focus on bettering yourself and gaining self-awareness, Russian Doll turns this cliché on its head by introducing our second protagonist, Alan.

A person desperately trying to control a world that is inherently uncontrollable.

Alan, compared to Nadia, is as straight-laced as he could be. His ‘reset’ includes a series of affirmations like “You are in control”. It isn’t until it’s revealed that he has driven his girlfriend away that we see Alan as who he is: a person desperately trying to control a world that is inherently uncontrollable. As companionship grows between Alan and Nadia, we see them not just connect, but also work to understand one another. This dynamic between our protagonists is quite uncommon, as most stories focus on a single protagonist to unravel the mysteries of why they keep looping time.

With another person involved, the lengths that Alan and Nadia go to evade the truths about their unhappiness and state of life comes into perspective. They become each other’s sounding boards and in the end, even save each other’s lives. The (sometimes vitriolic) friendship between Alan and Nadia is the heart of the story; they grow thanks to each other.

Over and over again?
Due to the nature of the show, many scenes involving Nadia’s infamous birthday party involve repetition: Maxine (Greta Lee) cooing “sweet birthday baby” at Nadia, her offer of the cocaine-laced joint, and the appearance of Nadia’s exes become multiverse constants for every death Nadia experiences. This, obviously, can result in several viewers growing bored of the show; after all, the show is supposed to progress with the plot and the mystery at hand. However, the show makes up for this by having Alan and Nadia attempt to evade the previous causes of deaths they know of, such as reporting a gas leak or taking the fire exit instead of the stairs.

Another point critics also make is that Alan’s characterization isn’t fully realized as Nadia’s is. While it’s mostly due to the fact that we spend at least 3 episodes together with Nadia only as she investigates her own deaths, it’s a valid point to make as Alan’s story is also interesting to explore in a future season (if possible). Further background to Alan’s story and why he can be quite defensive and dull when we first meet him is an interesting idea for a second season, and Charlie Barnett’s emotional performance of Alan definitely deserves more screen time.

In the real world, there aren’t any do-overs. While Nadia and Alan are able to learn from their mistakes in the past deaths, it usually doesn’t happen in reality. But Russian Doll leaves a poignant message for its viewers: while it’s definitely not enjoyable, confronting your deepest fears and truths is the first step to actually living… and with a friend by your side, it can be a little bit easier.

Cover: Netflix
Editor: Mana Reed Stutchbury

143 Total Views 1 Views Today

Reacties

reacties

Tags: , in Reviews
Related Posts

The Brutally Feminine Murder of the Anti-Hero

18/05/2019

18/05/2019

We all love a hero, but sometimes, an anti-hero is even better. This article explores moral ambiguity and why we are attracted to it.

#RIPDorisDay

17/05/2019

17/05/2019

The world mourns as news of the passing of Doris Day arrives. Medium remembers a woman whose movies and music earned her the status of a Hollywood legend.

Tessa: De geneeskundestudent die geniet van haar leven in Maastricht

13/05/2019

13/05/2019

Dit keer geen student uit Amsterdam, maar een student uit Maastricht! Medium sprak met geneeskundestudent Tessa over haar studentenleven in Maastricht en hoe communicatie een rol speelt in haar studie.

Faking a Disease Online: Munchausen by Internet

12/05/2019

12/05/2019

Who can we trust online? This article explores the distressing phenomenon of Munchausen by internet.

Your nightlife review: De School, Amsterdam

10/05/2019

10/05/2019

Gabby reviews De School, mainly known as a techno nightclub. Is it worth a visit? And why is there such a strict doorpolicy? We sum up the good and bad points for you.

The Pursuit of the Perfect Picture and its Consequences

09/05/2019

09/05/2019

A lot of people nowadays do the craziest things to get the most beautiful Instagram photos. It's all fun and games, until people's properties get destroyed. Angela discusses 3 places in the world where 'Instagram tourists' have taken over.

Quality of public debate and social media

07/05/2019

07/05/2019

Does social media add or subtract from the quality of public debate today? Aakansha shares her take on the controversial topic.

Everything Not Saved Will be Lost

03/05/2019

03/05/2019

As our lives today are intertwined with that of the objects we are surrounded by, Ada dives into minimalism, decluttering and downsizing.

Medium TV – Brexit, just what the bloody hell went wrong? | MediumTV #19

30/04/2019

30/04/2019

Medium TV asked Jeppe and Charlie a few questions on Brexit. Watch the interview and listen to their opinions about it.

Outraved: Dance Demonstration for Your Education | MediumTV #18

29/04/2019

29/04/2019

Medium was present at 12 April's Outraved; a demonstration against budget cuts on education.

Medium TV interviews Leon Willems, director of Free Press Unlimited | MediumTV #17

29/04/2019

29/04/2019

Leon Willems, director of Free Press Unlimited since May 2011

VR Butterfly (World)

29/04/2019

29/04/2019

In a world where we are losing touch with our natural environment, can virtual reality save the day?

Just dance! Social interaction and communication inside a nightclub

26/04/2019

26/04/2019

When the beat drops and strobes lights start flashing through the dark, the way people dance functions as a primitive but universal language. It brings people from all places together through an intense form of communication. Gabby explains why dancing can function as a communicative medium and how this works.

Parenting in the digital age

25/04/2019

25/04/2019

Parenting is and always has been hard. With social media nowadays, it hasn't become easier. Would you want your kids to develop a digital footprint earlier than they develop the ability to speak?

Is Having a Restricted Press Really Such a Bad Thing?

22/04/2019

22/04/2019

Having a government-controlled press, singapore has been ranked 150th out of 180 countries on the World Freedom Press Index. But is this controlled press really a bad thing in a time were fake news thrives?

EnjoyInstagram