Natasha Lyonne already has her ducks in a row for her next project following the seventh and final season of Orange Is the New Black. In fact, her new Netflix series will premiere months before OITNB is even out. Her latest venture features Lyonne playing an equally brassy and neurotic character in Russian Doll. This may lead viewers to wonder whereRussian Doll is set. Much like her OITNB character, Nicky, Lyonne's Russian Doll character Nadia is a New Yorker through and through.
The series takes place in New York City, Lyonne's hometown, and the setting is integral to the premise of the show. Russian Doll follows Nadia on the day of her 36th birthday party, which tragically ends in a fatal cab accident. (Lyonne, herself, is poised to turn 40 this April.) But then, Nadia wakes up on the morning of the 36th birthday party. She's stuck in a Groundhog Day-esque time loop, doomed to live the same day over and over, each day ending in a death odder and grislier than the last. In an interview with Gulf Times, Lyonne explained that the premise was tied to her own sense of feeling like living in New York means avoiding death a hundred times a day.
“We realize that there’s literally death around the corner at all times,” she said, gently mocking how hazardous the new trend of CitiBikes are to chronic jaywalkers like herself. “Walking to work it’s like, oh, I really did nearly die six times today.”
Lyonne has a checkered past of her own in New York. She suffered a highly publicized battle with addiction throughout the aughts and Lyonne mentioned how profound it felt to move through New York as a director, creator, and star of her own show after such a dark relationship with the city. Said Lyonne:
Probably the most incredible moment for me was walking home with my little director’s binder in the East Village and watching the sun begin to rise. And I’m like, this is a very different kind of sunrise than what I’ve experienced historically at this hour. This was the good guy’s version of that, and it was deep stuff. Chloe [Sevigny, her co-star and childhood friend] and I had walked those streets so many times, and now it was this world that we had built. There was a lot of gratitude. I just couldn’t believe how things have turned out.
Each episode of Season 1 was co-written by Lyonne and Leslye Headland, with the exception of the pilot, which Headland wrote alone. Directing duties for Season 1 were split between Lyonne, Headland, and Jamie Babbit, who directed Lyonne in one of her most famous films, But I'm a Cheerleader. Amy Poehler also serves as an executive producer and creator of the show along with Lyonne and Headland.
The show was initially conceived as a pilot called Old Soul developed for NBC. But when that show didn't get picked up, Poehler and Lyonne revamped it for Netflix, which is fitting, since the streaming platform is largely credited with reviving Lyonne's career. Russian Doll drops Feb. 1 on Netflix.