Nadia keeps dying and reliving her 36th birthday party. She's trapped in a surreal time loop -- and staring down the barrel of her own mortality.
We watched one and a half episodes last night, which is about as much as I could bear before cringing and stabbing my eyes out. Not one single character was likeable or possessed any redeeming features. In fact, each was a one dimensional cardboard cut-out. The protagonist was simply irritating and I was hoping that she would just stay dead and not come back, to be honest. It was all just so pretentious, badly executed and not a patch on Groundhog Day, which grabs you from the start and is also very humorous. This is neither humorous or hooks you, at least for me.
There is a great temptation, which many succumb to, to not only compare this series to Groundhog Day, but to rate it according to how they believe Russian Doll fared “against” Groundhog Day. Indeed, leading up to watch it, based on the previews, I was thinking in those terms. But I was mistaken to fall into that trap. Groundhog Day is a romantic comedy, played almost entirely for laughs. There is an obvious comparison to be made here, with the protagonist (plural in Russian Doll) reliving the same day over and over again. But I felt Russian Doll had more depth. It wasn’t just magic like it was in Groundhog Day that caused their day to re-start every time they fell asleep at midnight or died (mostly by suicide) to escape the magic setting. In Russian Doll they had to navigate a dangerous landscape that seemed out to kill them. Nadia is not a warm and fuzzy character at the outset, but I liked her wit and energy. If a male character acted like she did, I think the critique level would be less rabid. Heck, I felt it in myself until I challenged it. But as the series progressed, she developed as a person, gaining more depth, adjusting her behaviors. Hints developed that suggested that stuff from her past were playing into what was going on, and who she was inside. There were hints of explanations behind the strange phenomena, which Groundhog Day didn’t try for, such as the theory Of multiplayer universes in physics, which I don’t think I personally believe in but which I leave to the scientists. I don’t want to give much away, so I will stop there. I think Russian Doll is imaginative with a lead character who is not easy to like, at least at first, but for whom the writer(s) were not afraid to put in some work to help us like her. I have no idea where they can go with the second series: a repeat of the same format seems unlikely, but I trust to their powers of imagination that they will push the envelope once again, and I will at the very least take it for a spin and see if I also like the sophomore series.