×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Listen: ‘Russian Doll’ Showrunner on Challenging Female-Driven Narratives

Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety‘s television podcast. In this week’s installment, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, chats with Leslye Headland, the showrunner of Netflix’s new series “Russian Doll.”

The show, co-created by Headland, Amy Poehler, and Natasha Lyonne, who also plays the lead role, follows a woman who is hit by a car after a party and dies, only to wake up and relive that same day over and over again. She has to figure out what the hell is going on, and how she can escape this deadly fate.

There is the “mystery box element” of the series, Headland says, and Nadia (Lyonne) will need to deal with questions about different timelines and the metaphysical. However, it’s far from a sci-fi series, and aims instead to address topics like spirituality and ethics.

Additionally, with a woman at the center, Headland says there are opportunities to differ from typical female narratives about material possessions or motherhood.

“It was really important to explore a show about a female protagonist that asked spiritual and existential questions,” Headland says. “As opposed to a show that was about a woman finding romance, a woman finding balance between her work life and her love life … those are all worthy endeavors and excellent shows made about all of those things, but we just were thinking, ‘But what hasn’t been done?'”

Headland says the creators also kept the show fresh by straying away from other magical realism projects like “It’s a Wonderful Life” where the main character’s problems are society’s making.

“[Nadia] is the architect of her own destruction,” Headland says. “We’re making the point that this is of her own creation, and it’s something she is going to have to rectify for herself. It’s not something that society is going to reel her in for.”

With Lyonne leading the pack, whom Headland calls one of the “premiere physical comedians” in the industry, the showrunner says audiences can see “neck-down comedy” more than ever. Every choice Lyonne makes with her body is funny, Headland says, and she proves that women can be sexy and funny at the same time.

In the seven years since Headland’s film “Bachelorette” came out, she says she’s seen a positive shift away from the “can women be funny?” debates. Back when she got on the Blacklist with the romantic comedy in 2008, she was constantly told the film would never be made. Now, women are putting out some of the best content in Hollywood in droves.

“In the years since then, there is this feeling of, not only are women driving the box office and not only are they interested in R-rated, more adult comedies,” Headland says, “we also have more women creating … at a higher rate. As you see that stuff getting picked up and put into the marketplace and succeeding, it opens the door for everybody else.”

Russian Doll” premiered Friday, Feb. 1. Later in the podcast, Variety’s TV critics Daniel D’Addario and Caroline Framke discuss the show further, as well as Hulu’s “PEN15.” Additionally, Danielle Turchiano, Variety’s senior features editor of television talks about Fox’s version of “Rent.”

New episodes of “TV Take” are available every Friday. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud, or anywhere you download podcasts. You can find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.

Leslye Headland photographed exclusively for the Variety TV Take Podcast
Dan Doperalski for Variety

More TV

  • Lara Logan and CBS News Have

    Lara Logan and CBS News Have Parted Ways

    Lara Logan, the journalist who gained wider renown covering war-torn spots in the Middle East for CBS News, is no longer with the network and has not been for several months. The split, disclosed as the result of Logan making an appearance over the weekend on a podcast in which she suggested news consumers ought [...]

  • Kate McKinnon Emily Lynne

    Audible, Broadway Video Ink Production Deal for Comedy Originals (EXCLUSIVE)

    Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video and Amazon’s Audible have struck a deal to create multiple audio-only original comedy programs for Audible listeners, Variety has learned, starting with an absurdist medieval series created by “Saturday Night Live” star Kate McKinnon and her sister Emily Lynne. “Heads Will Roll” is the first of Audible and Broadway Video’s joint [...]

  • A still from Leaving Neverland by

    'Leaving Neverland' Director Open to Potential Sequel to Controversial Michael Jackson Doc

    Ahead of its March 3 premiere on HBO, “Leaving Neverland” director Dan Reed tells Variety he is open to creating a follow-up to his controversial four-hour documentary revolving around sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson. If, that is, he would be able make contact with the King of Pop’s earlier high-profile accusers, Jordan Chandler and [...]

  • Roadside Attractions Acquires Drama Pilot 'The

    Roadside Attractions Acquires Drama Pilot 'The Golden Cage'

    Roadside Attractions Television has acquired one-hour drama pilot “The Golden Cage.” Described as a female-driven Wall Street thriller, the project hails from writer Oskar Nordmark. Darryl Taja (pictured) will serve as executive producer through his Epidemic Pictures. Adam Rodin will also exec produce. Nordmark created the series and will serve as co-executive producer. Roadside Attractions’ [...]

  • Hulu Adds Another Interactive Ad: This

    Hulu Adds Another Interactive Ad: This One Lets You Get Offers Via Email

    Hulu lets its subscribers choose the show they want to see. Now the video-streaming service is increasingly letting users choose to respond to certain commercials right away. A commercial from Sleep Number, the manufacturer of the bed with an adjustable mattress, that has run on Hulu for the past several weeks allows viewers to request [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content