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Recommended: Russian Doll Season 2 on Netflix

New time-bending tricks keep Natasha Lyonne's signature comedy as beguiling as ever.
  • Natasha Lyonne in Season 2 of Russian Doll (Photo: Netflix)
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    Russian Doll Season 2 | Netflix
    Half-hour Comedy (7 episodes) | TV-MA

    What's new and what's changed?

    Four years after escaping a time loop, Nadia and Alan find themselves in a new cosmic trap: When they take the subway, they're sucked into the past and inhabit their relatives' bodies. 

    Who's involved?

    • The series is still defined by Natasha Lyonne. She not only plays Nadia, but also serves as a writer, director, and showrunner. 
    • Charlie Barnett returns as Alan, who learns to love time travel in spite of himself. 
    • Elizabeth Ashley is back as Ruth, Nadia's surrogate mother, while Schitt's Creek star Annie Murphy plays Ruth in the past. 
    • Chloë Sevigny is back as Nadia's actual mother, and she's still an emotional hurricane.
    • Amy Poehler (Parks and Recereation) and Leslye Headland (Bachelorette) remain executive producers.

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    It takes five seconds for Russian Doll to reassert itself as one of the most tantalizing shows on TV. After a provocative opening shot of an older woman breaking a wall with a pickaxe, we cut to Lyonne, all red curls and black trenchcoat, stalking down a Manhattan street while Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" booms over the soundtrack. Fans should already be looking for clues: Does it matter that this song suggests resurrection? Does it matter that Nadia goes into the Astor Place subway station? The answer is always yes.

    Then we’re hit with the exhilarating energy of Lyonne's performance: Her first few lines include an Oedipus reference, a great one-liner about New Jersey, and a choked-back greeting to Ruth, who has just been in an accident. Lyonne finds a new shade for each moment, yet she retains the underlying sense of fun that makes Nadia such a fabulous tour guide through this chaotic universe. She feels everything, but she wants the adventure anyway.

    Nadia's vibe is crucial, because without it, the season might otherwise collapse. The time travel rules are vague, and some late season developments are so complicated that they're hard to understand. Plus, anyone familiar with sci-fi storytelling will easily predict the ethical conclusions the show makes about trying to impact your own family's past. But Nadia is such a thrilling presence that it's a joy to tumble along with her anyway. She's so uncommonly smart and so incredibly cool that it's exciting to spend time with her no matter where (or when) she goes.

    Pairs well with

    • Palm Springs (Hulu), a fizzy time-loop comedy starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti.
    • Kevin Can F**k Himself (AMC), another high-concept series with a great performance by Annie Murphy.
    • Random Acts of Flyness (HBO), a trippy talk show with a taste for big ideas.

    Worth Noting

    You can pretty much follow these episodes without seeing Season 1. There are references to what happened before, but the new story stands on its own. 

  • Russian Doll (Season 2)
    Complete second season drops on Netflix Wednesday, April 20.
    Created by: Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland.
    Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Charlie Barnett, Elizabeth Ashley, Annie Murphy, Sharlto Copley, Brendan Sexton III, Greta Lee, Rebecca Henderson, and Anoop Desai.
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    TOPICS: Russian Doll, Netflix, Amy Poehler, Annie Murphy, Anoop Desai, Brendan Sexton III, Charlie Barnett, Elizabeth Ashley, Greta Lee, Leslye Headland, Natasha Lyonne, Natasha Lyonne, Rebecca Henderson, Sharlto Copley