Russian Doll: Netflix’s comedy-drama with a touch of science fiction
Time loop is an intriguing concept. As shown in the movie Edge of Tomorrow, the protagonist gets to start over everything from a certain point when he dies.
But what happens when the time loop didn’t happen from an alien but by an unknown universal mystery?
Netflix’s Russian Doll is a show that is not overtly science-fictional but tells the story of two protagonists struggling to get out of a cyclical time loop and making amends with their friends and family in comedic ways.
Although the second protagonist comes later, our first one is Nadia Vulvokov, a game developer going through a cycle of continuous deaths on her 36th birthday.
She dies every time in different ways - from choking on a chicken bone to a gas explosion. She ponders the question - how to get out of this endless loop?
In her search for answers, she bumps into Alan Zaveri, our second protagonist, who is also going through the same death cycle. Together, they team up and look for a way to evade it forever.
The show is comedic in nature, but it also explores mental health issues. Though Nadia and Alan face the same time loop, they have different problems that affect their surroundings.
Nadia struggles with her drug addiction and past traumas as a child that she finds hard to overcome, probably symbolised by the disappearance of friends around her after each death till she accepts her problems.
Alan also faces his insecurities and arrogance to get help which he finally accepts in the last episode. The odd duo solves the riddle of time by saving each other from their first death.
The second season brings more twists to the show. Four years after the incident of the first season, Nadia is seen abruptly transferred back to the ‘80s by a wormhole in a train, also happening on her birthday.
But she hasn't wholly travelled back to the time; only her mind is transferred to her mother’s body. With the situation happening, she decides to get back the family heirloom her mother lost.
In the meantime, Nadia realises she isn’t alone even here; Alan is also facing the same time travel in his grandmother’s body back in the ‘60s. After solving the time loop puzzle, can they solve this time travel puzzle too? Only time will tell.
Natasha Lyonne plays Nadia and is also co-director and executive producer of the show. Russian Doll sees some cast from another popular TV series Orange Is the New Black, including Natasha herself.
The show’s first season earned nominations in multiple categories in the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards. Nonetheless, Russian Doll is a binge-worthy show for its unpredictable plot and rich sense of humour.