'Russian Doll' Renewed for Season 2 at Netflix

Russian Doll S01 Still 2 - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Netflix

Nadia (Lyonne) doesn't carry a handbag, meaning everything from her jeans to her coats have pockets. She embodies the "throwback cool" look of the Lower East Side.

Russian Doll is headed on another loop.

The dark comedy from star Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland is getting a second season at Netflix. Following the format of season one, Russian Doll will return with eight episodes. A release date has yet to be announced.

The second season renewal was revealed by Lyonne and Netflix vp originals Cindy Holland during their joint appearance Tuesday at Recode's Code Conference in Arizona. "Same show, just weirder," said Lyonne. "The character is a coder, so it would be appropriate to have this be the time and place to say, yes. So very much yes, I would love to do [a second season]." 

Lyonne, who co-created the critical darling and led an all-female writing and directing team for the first season, starred in every episode as Nadia Vulvokov, a coder who is forced to relive her 36th birthday on a nightmarish loop when she keeps dying and coming back to life.

The show, which Lyonne initially described as an experimental adventure, is inspired by the Orange Is the New Black star's autobiography. Those truths were then "wrapped in a mind-bending concept" that reveals itself as the episodes barrel along and Nadia goes deeper into her twisty journey of self-discovery. 

"I'm 100 percent in there and most definitely the architect of the whole thing," Lyonne had told The Hollywood Reporter of the high-premise concept. "At the same time, the question became — how do we cloak it in something? It's not a one-woman show, so what would be the most fun way to tell you this story?"

After debuting Feb. 1 ahead of Groundhog Day — a fitting wink for a series that sees its protagonist reliving the same day, this time to the catchy tune of Harry Nilsson’s “Gotta Get Up" — Russian Doll became a popular source of social media chatter as Lyonne-centered memes circulated on Twitter and Instagram. Russian Doll received rave reviews leading up to its release, though several critics noted that, given how the first season ends, Netflix should let the show live on as a limited series. The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg called it a "near-total triumph, suggesting to Netflix, "There's absolutely no need for a second season of Russian Doll. It's good and it's right."

But Lyonne, Poehler and Headland actually pitched Russian Doll to Netflix as a three-season series. When speaking to THR ahead of the renewal news, both Lyonne and Headland said the creators all wanted to make more episodes. After the cathartic events of the first season finale, what exactly that second season will look like — and who will be involved onscreen — remains to be seen.

"When initially pitched, Nadia was a presence throughout all three of them. But it was not in a very conventional way," Headland had told THR of their initial three-season vision centering around Lyonne's character in some capacity. "She was always a presence as we knew Lyonne would always be the beating heart and soul of this show. Whether she was being haunted or she was haunting the narrative, she would be there. But we have discussed all of those things and more."

The trio learned a lot after creating season one — including how to successfully storyboard the season by narrative "loops" instead of by episodes — and when it came to thinking about the future of the show, both Lyonne and Headland said anything is on the table. 

"I think we have some ideas," said Lyonne after the first season release. "I definitely have ideas ranging from the really kind of out-there anthology to staying on board with our friend Nadia. And maybe it’s all one idea. Certainly, what we pitched as the heart and soul of Russian Doll, I’d love to continue to get to work in that way. The idea that they would conceivably follow us and on that course, should we jump off that cliff, is pretty fun to even consider the fantasy."

The first season of Russian Doll starred Charlie Barnett in a key role, Greta Lee, Rebecca Henderson, Elizabeth Ashley, Brendan Sexton III, Jeremy Bobb and Yul Vazquez, as well as guest players Dascha Polanco and Chloe Sevigny, Lyonne's OITNB co-star and close friend, respectively. 

While Netflix, like other streamers, does not release viewership data, Russian Doll has become a critical gem and stands as a potential awards season player. The first season currently has an impressive 96 percent rating among critics and an 87 percent audience score on RottenTomatoes.com.

The renewal comes on the heels of a handful of cancellations, including The RanchOne Day at a Time and Santa Clarita Diet, and the streamer officially cutting ties with Marvel; as well as renewals for Dead to Me, On My Block and Fox import Lucifer for a final season. Netflix continues to add content at a rapid rate after spending as much as $13 billion on originals in 2018.

News of a second season of Russian Doll also comes as Lyonne is preparing to end her seven-season run on Jenji Kohan's acclaimed prison dramedy Orange Is the New Black, which will release its final season on July 26.