From Russian Doll to Maniac: the rise of the strange new Netflix

ORno charm of the new drama of Netflix Russian doll is that it does not try to give the vaguest sense. This streetwise update of day of the marmot an old hipster from New York follows (Orange is the new blackNatasha Lyonne) trapped in a strip of life and death of Möbius illuminated by sodium, pain and rebirth, happy birthday and the beginning of middle-aged life.

An impassive gerbil in an existential labyrinth, Nadia, our eponymous heroine, is apparently condemned to alleviate the night that is 36 years old again and again. Slips in conscience in the bathroom of his entranced bathroom in the New York East Village and from there a little badly endures, variously rolling down the stairs or mowed by a taxi. And then he returned, once again, to the bathroom at the end of the universe and to the initial tensions of "Gotta Get Up" by Harry Nilsson.

The premise is a mysterious box with lighted bells. Is Nadia trapped in the afterlife? Has some divine being enchanted her in a time ring to impart an invaluable lesson in life? The big blow at the end of the eight episodes, however, is far from an orderly resolution.

The last secret – the how and why of Nadia's resurrection – is waved by hand. All the time it was just a vanguard device with which Russian doll, co-produced by Lyonne, Amy Poehler and director Leslye Headland, could argue that life is precious, the vital human connection and that we should make the most of both.

Written, everything seems hopelessly overwhelmed and enormously niche. Who has ever sat at Netflix and has complained about the lack of comedies of the paradox of time starring the former bad girls of Hollywood? It's still Russian doll it became Netflix's latest surprise, with the uniformly fading reviewers and Reddit clogged with the threads that spilled it scene by scene.

This, it would seem, is the new paradigm of streaming television. Even thoroughly it's out for lunch The Umbrella Academy, a new drama of superheroes Netflix very different from the ponderosa madness of The Punisher, Jessica Jones etc.

The Umbrella Academy is based on a graphic novel by Gerard Way, the orange-haired singer of the emo band My Chemical Romance. And, to his credit, it is like barking as one would expect from a series adapted from a graphic novel by an orange-haired emo singer. The story begins in 1989, when 43 children were born to mothers who were not pregnant that morning (strap, it becomes much stranger).

An eccentric billionaire, Sir Reginald Hargreaves, "buys" seven of the children and trains them as crime fighters. In adulthood they became superheroes with completely bizarre skill sets. Among their ranks is Allison, a celebrity who can alter reality by pronouncing "rumors" aloud.

There is also Klaus, a drug addict who speaks to the dead; No other name, an adult abandoned in the body of a child; and the Cha-Cha assassin, who had the upper hand over time, played by the musical icon Mary J Blige. The most famous cast member in the meantime is Ellen Page as a white violin, whose superpower is that it has no superpowers.

Ellen Page in & # 39; The Umbrella Academy & # 39; (Christos Kalohoridis / Netflix)

It is absolutely glorious, without cuckoo, cuckoo. As with Russian doll, is also gaining a lot of word of mouth for Netflix and basking in excellent rewritings. So it's part of a series of ongoing victories for streaming goliath, which had another great success last year with the completely unknown Maniac – a deepening of mental instability which was in turn profoundly unstable.

Two emotionally fragile strangers – portrayed by Emma Stone and Jonah Hill – sign up for a drug trial where they are transported to fantastic archetypal universes. These include a Lord of the Rings Enter the kingdom of swords and sorcery and an adventure of occultism directly from HP Lovecraft. Throw in Justin Theroux as a mad scientist whose hair has a mind of his own and Sally Field as his overbearing mother and you have a quirk for the ages.

However, thanks in part to the luminescent direction of Cary Fukunaga, Maniac it was a success forged in the binge-watch paradise. And once again he confirmed Netflix as a high-concept cake-ism teacher – venturing into genuinely provocative entertainment, while ensuring that our tramps were firmly glued to our seats.

The same could be said of The good place, the cult comedy that milk laughs from the highly existential inquiries on mortality and morality. Ted Danson also says as an ambiguous drug dealer who pursues the afterlife, which probably helps.

The interesting thing is that these successes came after a troubled period in which Netflix was churning out clunker after clunker. Remember the Naomi Watts psychosexual thriller 2017, immediately canceled gypsy? The final little fun College friends (somehow came back for a second season)? The existential horror that was the stoned comedy of Cathy Bates-Chuck Lorre disconnected?

By going all right, you will have erased your memories of any memory of all of the above. What they represent are traditional formats, Netflix simply can not work (see also its mysterious simulacrum of a late night talk show, The Break with Michelle Wolf). The most difficult Netflix has tried to follow the wisdom received, the least guarded results. But, presumably learned the lesson, the company has instead decided to feed the weirdo inside. The surprise and joy is that in doing so he produced some of his best televisions to date.