Netflix’s Russian Doll was one of my favorite shows from the past year. It took a previously explored concept and completely turned it on its head. The show stars Natasha Lyonne as Nadia Vulvokov, and Charlie Barnett as Alan Zaveri, two thirty-something New Yorkers stuck living (and dying) the same night over and over again. The pair spends the season exploring the mystery behind why they keep dying, and how they eventually break the loop.
Season two picks up four years after the events of season one, with Nadia and Alan living contently after finally breaking the death cycle. Nadia’s 40th birthday is rapidly approaching, and she plans to spend it quietly with Alan and her friends until a train ride changes everything. Nadia gets transported back to the year 1982 and finds herself stuck in her mother’s body, reliving several pivotal moments from her life.
If season one was Groundhog Day, then season two is definitely Quantum Leap. Both Nadia and Alan are forced to reconcile with different traumas from their past, uncovering painful truths along the way. Throughout seven episodes, we see both Nadia and Alan’s characters come full circle, as the focus has been shifted from them trying to keep themselves from dying to learning how to really live.
It was really interesting to see the development of both characters this season. Lyonne does a fantastic job showcasing Nadia’s nuanced hardheadedness, pivoting from frustratingly chaotic to showcasing depth, able to draw sympathy at the drop of a hat. Meanwhile, Alan struggles to keep his consistent level-headedness under control after experiencing his Grandmother losing the love of her life in his timeline.
Personally, I didn’t think the second season was as strong as the first, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad by any stretch. Season two is a wildly different journey that flows between introspective and maddeningly odd. There were times that I found myself jumping between insanely frustrated with Nadia, and being sympathetic to her struggle. After all, her entire crusade of trying to undo multiple generations of trauma is a plight of many modern-day thirty and forty-year-olds. It’s a beautifully philosophical conundrum that we all can identify with on some level.
I thoroughly enjoyed season two of Russian Doll and I hope that there’s a season three in the pipeline. Both Alan and Nadia have a ton more development and story to be fleshed out, and I’m totally on board with them experiencing more timeline bending insanity. For those curious about the full experience, I’d definitely recommend checking out season two of Russian Doll on Netflix ASAP.