The Netflix series is an understated example of how much can be gained by placing women at a story’s center.
It’s hard to pinpoint what makes Russian Doll — Netflix’s wonderful, eight-episode, time-loopy dramedy — so very good. There’s an unabashedness to the centrality of its women, but it also never once devolves into a bunch of scenes that amount to star, co-creator, writer, and director Natasha Lyonne taking centerstage to say, “Well, as a woman…”
But it’s unlikely that Russian Doll’s flinty femininity would be the first thing you talked about when discussing the show, or even the fourth or fifth or sixth. Yes, it would come up, but the show is so effortlessly, joyfully itself that you can enjoy it entirely sans sociopolitical readings, something that TV (which is always fond of hammering the subtext into the text) often struggles with.
Much of why the show is so effective…