Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler
What if you kept dying at your own birthday party?
That’s the darkly comic premise of “Russian Doll,” a Netflix series starring Natasha
LyonneasNadia, a fast-talking, freewheeling Manhattanite caught in a mysterious loop in which she keeps dying in nightmarish New York scenarios: blindsided by a speeding cab, falling down an open cellar door in the sidewalk, crashing in a broken elevator.
And each time she gets killed, Nadia wakes up, not in the afterlife, but in the bathroom at the party for her 36th birthday, only to start the process all over again. Nadia’s increasingly elaborate quest for survival leads her on an adventure through the bodegas and dive bars of the East Village, but, ultimately, within herself as she peels back the layers of her identity to confront buried trauma.
With its trapped-in-a-loop premise, “Russian Doll” is initially reminiscent of “Groundhog Day” or the more recent “Happy Death Day,” but over the course of eight episodes premiering Friday, it evolves into something without obvious precedent — a visually inventive existential noir comedy told from a female perspective.
Created by Lyonne, Amy Poehler and writer-director Leslye Headland (“Bachelorette,” “Sleeping With Other People”), the series boasts an all-female writing and directing team. Lyonne, who directed the final episode, recently met with her co-creators in New York for a boisterous (and occasionally off-topic) conversation about the series, its origins and their influences.