Greta Lee Steals the Show (Again) in ‘Russian Doll’ Season 2
Russian Doll is Natasha Lyonne ‘s show, through and through. She’s the co-creator, head writer, star, and sometimes director of the series, which bends genres as blithely as it twists the laws of physics. Lyonne’s character, Nadia Vulvokov, takes everything that is cool and unique about Lyonne and blows it up like a supernova. Without Lyonne, the Netflix show would simply not exist, nor would it have a defining voice.
That said, there is one Russian Doll supporting player who continues to manage to pull attention whenever she enters a scene. In Season 1, Greta Lee ‘s Maxine managed to turn the phrase, “Sweet birthday baby!” into one of Russian Doll’ s most iconic hallmarks. In Season 2, however, Maxine gets to steal every scene she’s in. Whether she’s hectoring her bestie to take the gang’s maternal figure Ruth’s ( Elizabeth Ashley ) health more seriously or scheming to bed a random Hungarian hunk, Maxine takes control of every moment she pops up in Russian Doll. She has the best one liners and the coolest clothes. Most importantly, she is the best best friend a character like Nadia could hope for.
Basically, if there is an MVP of Russian Doll Season 2, it’s Greta Lee.
When Russian Doll first premiered back in 2019, it took the concept of Groundhog Day to new existential frontiers. Nadia Vulvokov, an East Villager to her core, keeps dying and reliving her 36th birthday party. It’s only after partnering with another soul stuck in this time loop, Charlie Barnett ‘s Alan, that Nadia figures out a way to not just escape death, but embrace life. Russian Doll’ s first season was perfect, punctuated by a creative storyline, dark humor, and an ensemble cast of indie scene heroes. Namely, Greta Lee. Her Maxine sparkled every time Nadia crossed paths and it seems Lyonne noticed. She’s given Maxine some of the best lines this season and far more screen time than her other Season 1 buddy, Lizzy (Rebecca Henderson).
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In Russian Doll Season 2, Maxine emerges as Nadia’s ride or die, bff, bestie until the end. Both women look out for one another and, most importantly, call one another out on their respective bullshit. Maxine harangues Nadia for missing out on Ruth’s big moments. (Nadia, in her defense, was stuck in the early 1980s.) For her part, Nadia reluctantly approves of Maxine’s decision to hook up with a Nazi’s grandson, all while mocking her for it (and snooping on said dude) the whole time.
But most importantly, these two women find both strength and support in their friendship. One of the most powerful themes of Russian Doll Season 2 is how important female friendships are for the survival of women. Nadia has Maxine, her mother had Ruth, and Nadia discovers her grandmother also had a best friend who helped her through the horrors of World War II. And through it all, Lee plays the role of bestie with her trademark blend of cool and zany. Maxine might be the one character who is larger than Nadia’s personality. And it’s so fun to see!
Russian Doll ‘s return is a win for fans of Natasha Lyonne, time travel capers, vintage New York City, and most of all, Greta Lee. The actress kills it in the second season of the Netflix show. So much so, you might find yourself clamoring for even more Maxine.