After watching the pilot of Netflix’s latest comedic thriller, Russian Doll, I wasn’t totally hooked — it seemed cool, but emotionally detached from its main character. By the fourth episode, I was sufficiently charmed by Natasha Lyonne’s streetsmart coder, Nadia, and the slightly retro version of downtown Manhattan that she inhabits. And by the final episode, I was convinced that Nadia was one of TV’s best modern protagonists, and that this was (as others have noted) the first truly great TV show of 2019.
As its name implies, Russian Doll has many layers. It’s one of those shows that you’ll probably enjoy more if you don’t know much about it ahead of time. So with that in mind, here are some *major-spoiler-free* notes on why this show works as well as it does:
Among its attributes, Russian Doll is a spectacular ode to one of America’s most fabled nightlife neighborhoods: Manhattan’s East Village. It’s a place where tourists, students, and New Yorkers alike have unforgettable experiences that will replay in their minds for the rest of their lives… whether they like it or not. No matter how many waves of gentrification wash over the neighborhood, the East Village still feels ancient and a bit haunted at times, and Russian Doll perfectly captures its nighttime energy.
As Nadia begins to unravel the mystery that has consumed her life, she passes through a number of real-world neighborhood institutions that never go out of style, including Ukrainian stalwart Odessa, fabled dive the Horseshoe Bar (also known as 7B or Vazac’s), and anytime-day-or-night sandwich favorite Sunny & Annie’s. But it’s the scenes at Nadia’s local bodega that rang truest to me for their slice-of-life quality. This is the unglamorous center of her warped universe; a place that’s both familiar and unpredictable, where many epic nights both start and end.
Read more at Eater.com: https://www.eater.com/2019/2/23/18236840/netflix-russian-doll-natasha-lyonne