Russian Doll season 2 reviews are in – and critics are calling it a “welcome shift” from season 1

The wait for Russian Doll season 2 is nearly over, and the reviews are now in for the latest installment of the hit Netflix show. This time around, Nadia, played by series creator Natasha Lyonne, isn’t just reliving the past, she’s traveling through it.

Lyonne has previously revealed that season 2 picks up four years after the end of season 1 – apparently Nadia and her Groundhog Day companion Alan (Charlie Barnett) “must sift through their pasts via an unexpected time portal located in one of Manhattan’s most iconic locales.” Schitt’s Creek’s Murphy and District 9 star Sharlto Copley have also joined the cast for round two. 

Read on to see what the critics are saying about Russian Doll season 2. 

The Verge (opens in new tab)

Russian Doll once again presumes that you, like Nadia, have consumed enough stories about time travel to know the rules about what people should and shouldn’t do if they spontaneously find themselves transported to the distant past. Season two raises the stakes and puts a unique spin on the genre, though, by padding its story with a healthy dose of urban legends and batshit left turns that all complement Lyonne’s performance as a consummate New Yorker who – mostly – knows no fear.

Rolling Stone (opens in new tab)

So, no, it is not the immaculate experience that the first season was. But in reaching further and trying more, Russian Doll season two ultimately justifies the series’ existence as more than just a one-shot. Where once it was hard to see how a continuation might work, now it wouldn’t feel the least bit surprising for Nadia to, say, be abducted by aliens who are baffled by her ability to namecheck all the members of Kraftwerk. As Nadia tells a loved one, “Inexplicable things happening is my entire modus operandi.” Here’s to more of the inexplicable lying ahead, for her and us both.

The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab)

Nothing in this season is quite as compulsively entertaining as the first season’s recurring fatalities, and there were some subject threads I wish had been carried through more consistently. But coming as close as this season does to recapturing, without shamelessly reproducing, the satisfying difficulty of the first season is achievement enough.

IndieWire (opens in new tab)

In TV terms, deviating from season 1’s construct marks a welcome shift. Rather than doing the same thing over again, Russian Doll season 2 sticks with its themes yet reworks how they’re explored. Sending Nadia on a train ride through her family history is a savvy progression from trapping Nadia in one stagnant night of her generally stagnant life; the latter demands personal reflection, the former considers how formative relationships can shape present realities (or, as Nadia quips, “It’s trickle down genomics!”).

Variety (opens in new tab)

Without revealing the “how” of this season’s particular conceit, I’ll at least say that the “why” remains a scientific mystery, for which I am truly grateful. Maybe other Russian Doll fans would want to know what keeps making Nadia and Alan the unlikely nexuses of where time and space collide, but to borrow the words of Iris DeMent and The Leftovers, I’d much rather let the mystery be and give myself over to the ride. As Nadia herself says once she realizes she’s back in some gnarly glitch in time and decides to toast to it, rather than fight it: “When the universe fucks with you, let it.”

Russian Doll season 2 arrives on Netflix on April 20. In the meantime, check out our list of the best Netflix shows that you can stream right now.

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