Natasha Lyonne says Russian Doll is “autobiographical”

Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
Photo: Peabody Awards, via Wikimedia Commons

Russian Doll is one of Netflix newest releases and comprises of eight half an hour episodes.

It may only be February, but critics are already claiming that this is one of the best shows of 2019. Whilst it may be a bit early for this, the series is certainly one of the most interesting and worthwhile Netflix watches.

Created and written by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland the show is a comedy about a Nadia (played by Lyonne), a video game designer, who appears doomed to keep repeating her 36th birthday.

Despite the clear inspiration from popular movies such as Groundhog Day and Happy Death Day, Russian Doll has managed to put a unique spin on the concept.

Initially, the character of Nadia tries to treat her predicament like a video game by avoiding hazardous situations. This leads to her dodging staircases and warning her friend about a gas leak, only to find that she is destined to die in a different way regardless.

Essentially, it’s not about Nadia “hacking” the day in order to beat it. Instead, it becomes clear that the easy solutions don’t work, meaning the character is forced to look deeper.

The story line is darker than that of Groundhog Day. The plot line is more emotional and deep for the character of Nadia, and perhaps this is why so many viewers have connected with it.

With such a complex plot, it should come as no surprise that it took time for the show to come together. Lyonne claimed that “Amy and I had been working on this show for a few years before Leslye came on board.”

However, it appeared that Leslye was the final piece of the creative puzzle that became Russian Doll, with Lyonne adding “when she did, it all came together in the most exciting way.”

But where did the initial inspiration come from for such an intriguing concept? Interestingly, in recent interviews Lyonne opened up saying the show “was based on my personal experiences, the rocky road I was living on.”

The actress and writer suggested that a lot of the story line for Russian doll was “just based on my personal experience of nearly dying very often as a result of addiction.”

Lyonne admits that for her, the stories in the show were not supernatural; instead she feels the show is “probably something closer to an autobiographical journey on my many dances with death”.