If you’ve ever heard of the film Groundhog Day, I’m presuming that you know what the story entails. The movie follows a weatherman who has found himself reliving the same day over and over again with no escape. Not long after it came out, the movie became a comedic classic, as well as becoming one of Bill Murray’s most popular films. While the “time loop” didn’t originate with Groundhog Day, it was one of the first biggest iterations of that trope.
Netflix’s new show, Russian Doll, follows a premise similar to the aforementioned movie of Murray’s, but just like it did back in the 90s, it completely blows new life into the over-saturated cliche. Russian Doll follows two characters, Alan and Nina, as they are trapped in a time loop, and it only resets whenever they die.
The show came out to critical acclaim, with an 89 on Metacritic (a notably difficult score to achieve), and a 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The site’s consensus reads, “Russian Doll may be stuck in a time loop, but this endlessly inventive series never repeats itself as it teeters on a seesaw of shifting tones – from fatally funny to mournfully sad – that is balanced with exhilarating moxie by an astonishing Natasha Lyonne.”
I have to admit, when I first heard about the series, I didn’t think I’d really be interested in it. I like Natasha Lyonne (Nina), and I think that Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are really good writers, but the “time loop” scenario is really overused. I was very pleasantly surprised to find how different from other iterations of the trope this show is.
Still, what I like most about the show is the acting. Series leads Natasha Lyonne and Charlie Barnett give amazing performances. The two actors put a lot of characterization to their respective characters, giving these often unlikable people compassion and empathetic qualities that make them easy to root for despite their failings. The ensemble as well help the leads navigate through all the different kinds of genres of comedy, sci-fi, drama, mystery that are intertwined in the show.
The writing and cinematography make the series stand out compared to other pieces of work with a similar premise. I really enjoyed all the twists the story threw at me, and the optimistic (somewhat open) ending gave the series a satisfying end. One of my favorite shots from the movie is the final scene when the parade begins, as it really gives Nina a sense of empowerment and also adds some cheeky little easter eggs into the background.
For anyone looking for something different and something that will keep them guessing what’ll happen until the very end, Russian Doll is the perfect series for you.