Russian Doll And The Importance Of Mental Care
If you haven’t seen Russian Doll, then I beg of you. Go ahead and watch it. Immediately. Binge it on Netflix and tell me if you loved it as much as I did.
But what is Russian Doll? It’s an eight episode series created by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland and it premiered on Netflix at the start of this month. It stars Lyonne is the role of the software engineer Nadia Vulvokov, and will quickly become your favorite new show.
Nadia repeats her day (the day of the 36th birthday) over and over again in some sort of a Groundhog Day. She stars her daily journey at the party thrown by her friend Maxine, and ends it with her violent death, sometimes later in that day. She falls, she drowns, she freezes to death and she gets hit by a car, among the many violent deaths, and understandably is frightened, panicked that she might be losing her mind.
And as she searches for clues, some answers that might explain her situation, not only we get to see her lifestyle and personality we get to meet Alan (Charlie Barnett) who like her is trapped in the same loop but with a very different storyline.
Let me start of by saying that Russian Doll is amazing. Seriously it is. The plot is not particularly fresh or original, but the development of the story, the acting of Natasha Lyonne and the aesthetics of the lower Manhattan really makes this show unique. Very Woody Allen-like aesthetics.
But what I can pinpoint as the underlining story in Russian Doll is the importance of mental care. Let me explain. Nadia and Alan are people that haven’t dealt with their mental issues and past traumas and this loop is giving them a second (and 35th chance to do that).
Nadia’s mother committed suicide at the age of 36, the age that Nadia is at the start of her day. She’s terrified that she inherited her mother’s mental instability and chose to lead a very self-destructive life a defense mechanism. She smokes like a chimney, she drinks excessively, she takes drugs and the only thing that’s nutritious in her fridge is an egg in almost empty egg carton.
Alain is very similar. Although he seems organized in his perfect material existence, he’s in fact empty, unfulfilled inside and tries to hide that feeling of emptiness with buying expensive, luxurious, perfect stuff. A sort of compensation if your will, and an effort to fill that void with stuff. Oh and even when he first appeared on screen during the third episode, the cinematography, the music and the overall feel of his storyline became very bland and boring. As opposed to the fiery colors, and retro pop music that dominates in Nadia’s storyline.
But I think Russian Doll is an allegory for mental health care. You can’t move on and have an emotional closure if you don’t deal with the childhood traumas or the mental issues that sit in the back of your mind. They’ll always creep up and will always haunt you if you don’t deal with them. And, yes dealing with them doesn’t have to involve cocaine and Vodka.
Russian Doll is amazing. I highly recommend it, and if not for the fantastic Natasha Lyonne, watch if for the sake of watching something fun and brilliantly written. Oh and I really love her hair too.