REVIEW: ‘Russian Doll’ Season 2 Dives Into The Past

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Russian Doll Season 2

When Russian Doll premiered three years ago, it was a veritable smash hit. The show was headlined by Natasha Lyonne, who plays Nadia, a woman doomed to celebrate the night of her birthday while stuck in an infinite loop. If she attempted to leave the path, she was met with an untimely and sometimes gruesome death that reset the night’s events. The show was such a breath of fresh air, providing some cosmically strange circumstances paired with the comedy stylings of Lyonne. It was an easy show to fall in love with, and with a 30-minute run time per episode, it was also an effortless binge. Thankfully though, after such a long reprieve, Russian Doll Season 2 is coming back to Netflix, and the universe is not done intervening in the lives of Nadia and Alan (Charlie Barnett).

The series, created by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland, brings us right back to the streets of New York City, where Nadia’s 40th birthday rapidly approaches. Fearing the worst, she already has plans in motion to hunker down with Alan and avoid the rath of karma or whichever crazy deity messed with them the last time. The problem is, life always hits you when you least expect it, and this time, Nadia will never see it coming as she steps on the subway headed for Maxine’s (Greta Lee) and winds up in 1982.

This season will have two new character introductions played by Annie Murphy and Sharlto Copley, and their additions set to shake up the series. Lyonne, back this season as the showrunner, continues to bring a certain panache to the character of Nadia like only she can. Lyonne’s talents as a wordsmith, both credited as a writer and the person delivering the lines, plays a large part in why Nadia is such a fan-favorite character. The series continues to bring that flair of dialogue that made it such a success during season 1, with Lyonne effortlessly using her vast array of linguistics with which she paints upon the canvas of her life. She’s such a fun character to watch as she adapts to the situations around her changing her mode as she goes, a fluid being complete with an enormous arsenal of vocabulary styles.

This season will see Nadia’s character in a whole new situation in which the past presents an opportunity for her future. After surviving the groundhog day situation from years ago, she is mentally prepared to dive into these obscure situations without being too ruffled by the fact she’s being warped through time into the eighties. As Nadia digs further into the situation, though, she realizes that the universe may have thrown her a bigger curves ball than even she is capable of dealing with, setting off a whole chain of events that’ll leave her chasing her tail.

Russian Doll Season 2 deals a lot with understanding situational differences, which we often struggle with as a society. Rather than taking the time to look around and appreciate her surroundings, she feels compelled to right the wrongs of the past. Nadia can’t see the forest for the trees as she becomes obsessed with trying to control the things around her. Again, it becomes an example of watching Nadia chasing her tail through the season.

I did find myself wanting a little bit more from season 2. The debut season had such a distinctive feel and vibrance that was captivating. It was both comedic, mysterious, and vague, leaving you a taste of trying to figure it all out. Season 2, however, feels a lot more like a lesson in wanting to make a moral point to its characters. It was a lot of fun, with Lyonne injecting her brand of pizzazz into the story, but after seven episodes, it just didn’t have the same punch quite like its predecessor. It was great to see Alan’s character be included in the madness, but Barnett felt very underused, and at times it felt Nadia and Alan’s development were competing with each other for screen time.

What I loved this season was the style choices when switching between periods. The soundtrack, and even at times the cinematography, reflects a very 1980s vibe to the shots, and it creates a genuine authenticity to the story from the perspective of Nadia.

Russian Doll Season 2 still captures a lot of what fans loved from the original season, and it follows a very similar structure from a storytelling point of view. However, some of the magic has been lost in between, and while it’s still a highly enjoyable binge, the show feels like it lacks that final wow factor to hail it as great a watch as the debut season. Natasha Lyonne is as brilliant and enigmatic as she always has been, and for that alone, you should absolutely still be tuning in for Season 2.

Russian Doll Season 2 is coming exclusively to Netflix on Wednesday, April 20th.


Russian Doll Season 2
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

Russian Doll Season 2 still captures a lot of what fans loved from the original season, and it follows a very similar structure from a storytelling point of view. However, some of the magic has been lost in between, and while it’s still a highly enjoyable binge, the show feels like it lacks that final wow factor to hail it as great a watch as the debut season. Natasha Lyonne is as brilliant and enigmatic as she always has been, and for that alone, you should absolutely still be tuning in for Season 2.