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Russian Doll Season 2 review: Natasha Lyonne's Netflix series is mind-melting in the best possible way

Season 2, what a concept! Don’t miss it.

  • Devki Nehra

Last Updated: 06.47 AM, Apr 24, 2022

Russian Doll Season 2 review: Natasha Lyonne's Netflix series is mind-melting in the best possible way

Natasha Lyonne as Nadia | Netflix

Story: Four years after Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) is stuck in a time loop on her 36th birthday, the universe tries to troll her again. What seems like an exciting new ability to travel across time –she can meddle with the events in her favour and literally walk in her mother’s shoes – soon becomes a dizzying affair. However, she’s not the sole “time prisoner”, as she calls herself, Alan (Charlie Barnett), too, is sucked into this vortex.

Review: How many times have you reflected on the past and wished to rewrite or redo things? I can assure you that if I had a penny for every time I felt this, I’d be rolling in cash. This feeling almost exclusively seems to creep in around birthdays, and Nadia, who’s soon to turn 40, is definitely not averse to it. One day she takes the 6622 train to Astor Place and arrives way back in time, right before her birth in 1982. Only to her shock, she’s not entirely herself. In the grimy New York of the 80s, she discovers how her mother Nora (Chloë Sevigny) lost her entire inheritance, about 149 gold bullions that would hold a lot more value in 2022 than they did 40 years ago. So, of course, Nadia feels she has to fix things right.

She’s forced to face more uncomfortable revelations about Nora —who died an early death — like her horrible taste in men, her chain-smoking (almost everyone chain smokes in this show including Nadia), and her mental health struggles. Nadia gets as close as she could to the root cause of the generational trauma that was passed on from mother to daughter to grand. On the other hand, Alan has his own discoveries to make, though he decides to tread far more carefully than Nadia ever does. While Nadia's in favour of changing the course of history, Alan realises not to mess with the sanctity of time. He remains cautious, riding on the exhilaration of knowing a different side to his grandma in 1960s East Berlin, but only for so long. 

Natasha Lyonne amazes once again as the sardonic, wisecracking Nadia, who barely loses her cool even when she has to walk on eggshells in an unknown timeline. There’s always an absurd remark or observation she can’t resist but make. The momentum in Lyonne’s performance keeps your attention from wavering from the mind-melting plot. Time travel has been explored across genres before but with Russian Doll Season 2, writers Lyonne, Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland give this trope a refreshing twist. 

The emotional moments are heavy and funnies remain as funny as ever. However, I have a complaint. I would have liked to see more of Alan’s misadventures. His story is not explored enough.

After Netflix’s significant loss in its subscriber base, one can hope that some will want to reevaluate their decision. Among the many moves the streamer has made, unpopularly renewing the worst franchises and shelving fan favourites, Russian Doll Season 2 is a part of the better decision making. And it also joins the ranks of follow-up feature films or series that weren’t unnecessary or trying to prolong a story that had already reached its dead-end (read: the never-ending Harry Potter franchise).

Also, how could I forget the soundtrack, a perfect accompaniment to the story's time-travel theme? It's a curation of some of the best 70s and 80s music — there's Depeche Mode’s 'Personal Jesus', Van Halen’s 'Runnin’ With the Devil' and the show's unofficial theme song Harry Nilsson's 'Gotta Get Up' that pops up at just the right moment.

Three years was too long a wait, so a rewatch of Season 1 is ideal. But if that’s too much work, the recap prefacing Episode 1 is enough.

Verdict: Season 2, what a concept! Don’t miss it.

Russian Doll Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix. Watch the trailer here —