‘Russian Doll’: Bringing Natasha Lyonne’s Brash, Trash-Talking Anti-Heroine To Netflix

IndieWire | 5/16/2019 | Staff
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What’s so riveting about Netflix’s “Russian Doll” is the voice at its center. Brainy narcissist trash-talking hard-living game coder Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne) seems to be completely out of control throughout the dizzying rush of eight half-hour episodes, which were tailor-made to binge. The series flies at you with such a saturated flurry of images, sex and death shocks and Altman-speed profane dialogue that it feels exploded out of a cannon. Which belies its precise craftsmanship.

The ever-expanding universe of television programming has created huge demand for shows that pop and grab, that aren’t the same as everything else. You haven’t seen “Russian Doll” before, its brazen female anti-hero, its bravura style. “Nadia was this character I’d created long before ‘Russian Doll,'” said Lyonne, who’s been seeped in show business for 35 years with one dramatic break for rehab. “She’s my alter ego Nadia, after Nadia Comăneci. She was already this superhero version of me, like a fantasy world I would inhabit. It was clearly an existential show surrounding this tough guy person, who is like Joe Pesci and Giulietta Masina had a baby.”

Doll - Women - Producers - Lyonne - Slums

“Russian Doll” is entirely created by women, from executive producers Lyonne (“The Slums of Beverly Hills,” “American Pie”) and Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”) to showrunner-director Leslye Headland, who cut her teeth on such raunchy rebel-femme indies as “Bachelorette” and “Sleeping With Other People” before taking over the all-female “Russian Doll” writers’ room. And it could only have been made at Netflix. “It was important to me to create a brain trust was really a safe place for us to get to make the things that we want to make,” said Lyonne. “Amy, Leslye and I are three of the most macho ladies you are likely to meet.”

After “Sleeping With Other People,” Lyonne told Headland, “You are one...
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