Russian Doll – Orange is the New Black Meets Groundhog Day with a Twist

“Russian Doll” is the new Netflix tv show, only a couple of weeks old. Its first season consists of 8 episodes and they are fun to watch. That is, after the third episode.

When you first start watching it you realize that the main character, Nadia, is Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) from “Orange is the New Black”. And you get super excited because who doesn’t love Nichols, right? She’s so cool and fun and spontaneous. And the acting is spot on. Then you start watching “Russian Doll” and it’s Nichols all over again. It should be Nadia, but it’s Nichols. It’s like a parallel universe where Nichols is called Nadia… and she’s not in prison. But it’s the same character. There is no difference between Nadia and Nichols. They are one and the same. Should it be a surprise that Natasha Lyonne creates this show? To me it looks like Natasha got so high on Nichols that she decided to create a spin-off but couldn’t because of copyright issues, so she created a completely different series… with essentially Nichols in it. Either that or in both series Natasha was playing herself meaning, and I’m sorry to say that, that she’s a very bad actress.

Don’t get me wrong, if you haven’t watched “Orange is the New Black” (and you definitely should) you’ll love Natasha’s performance. It’s stellar! Like in OITNB, Nadia is so cool and fun and spontaneous. And it’s Nichols. It’s the same character. It’s the same acting. There is no difference.

So I was watching the first three episodes… and what I was essentially watching was OITNB and “Groundhog Day”… like, can you be less creative than that? Basically, Nadia keeps dying and reliving the same day (her birthday) over and over again. Creativity – ZERO. I don’t know why I kept going through those three episodes. I wanted to stop millions of times but at the same time, the season has only 8 episodes and I wanted to give it a try. The whole vibe is OITNB with so many cliches that I can’t even count. So when you’re living in New York you have to be a wasted party animal, clueless about life and its purpose (if it has any purpose… so total nihilism… just because it’s cool and hip) and somehow have a great job that pays well for your lifestyle. Couldn’t be more cliched… As I said, another reason I wanted to stop watching it.

Miraculously, there comes the end of the third episode when Nadia realizes that there is another person also living in a loop like she is. He’s like her – he also keeps dying and reliving the same day. The same day she’s relieving (it’s not his birthday, though) and what’s also interesting is that they are dying at the same time.

Here is when the series takes a turn. It stops being boring and utterly cliched and starts being interesting. I kind of start seeing Nadia through all that Nichols makeup. I want to know why there are two people living in a Groundhog Day and what connects them if anything. The vibe shifts from OITNB despite having two Easter eggs – Daya and Wes Driscoll. It still kind of feels like a small group of friend from OITNB decided to make their own tv show with Natasha being the lead. They experimented, the beginning was bad but they kept on going and turned out to be a nice little experiment. Again, it’s nothing extraordinary, but it’s not bad either.

After the third episode, the vibe starts to be different – more quirky and modern. Idle chit-chat of wasted party animals is replaced by a question to find out what exactly is going on… And why. Everyone has their own theory and until the end, you won’t know what’s going on. That’s fine, you don’t have to know everything. TV series today are better representations of life – you are clueless and don’t know everything (and never will) but stuff keeps happening. Why? Who knows!

It’s the same with “Russian Doll”. It’s akin to life and it’s crazy quests and missions. We all think that the Universe is all about us, but is it? Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. We don’t have answers, just questions. And we keep on going trying to figure out things that we can’t ever figure out.

We’ll see what will happen in the next season (or seasons of it ever comes to that) but for now, it’s all good.

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