On the 1,292nd day of March 2020, I finished re-watching Russian Doll. I originally watched the series in 2019, when it first came out. I enjoyed it the first time, but I found this repeat of the eight episodes to be often boring. I wasn’t carried forward by the mysteries and plot, finding myself noticing little flaws.
Nadia is at her 36th birthday party, where she smokes a laced joint and set out to the local bodega. She ends up looking for a cat and is run down by a car, and finds herself back where she was earlier in the evening.
Rewatching Russian Doll, I didn’t feel the same puzzle box intensity. The show was somehow deflated, and I found myself not caring so much about the characters. The metaphors drawn from Nadia’s job as a computer programmer felt trite – although Russian Doll gets some credit in me for showing a code review and mentioning unit testing.
Russian Doll does a lot of time loop things well, such as the use of a strong musical cue to anchor the repetitions. It’s also nice that Nadia is not confined to a single day, and having her sometimes survive to the following day played against the conventions. I particularly liked the degradation of the loops, with some items of food rotting inside the loop, and the feeling that this repetition would not continue forever. The idea of having two strangers in the loop needing to rescue each other was a good one. But watching a second time, I found Nadia irritating. Sometimes repeating things doesn’t work.
- Length of first iteration (in film): 9.25 minutes
- Length of second iteration: 11.5 minutes
- Reset point: death
- Fidelity of loop: the day sets up the same way each time
- Exit from the loop: Nadia and Alan saving each other
Re-watching Russian Doll, I realised I was not excited by time loop projects in the same way that I had been. Making a list of potential films there were half-a-dozen Disney and Hallmark style films set at Christmas. I think I’m past the point where watching any time-loop film or TV show has value. I’m going to step out of this loop for a while and do other things.