I took a chance at the new show Russian Dolls on Lifetime. Unlike most reality shows, Russian Dolls is only a half an hour, and I can see why...the show seems to last an eternity.
Russian Dolls features wealthy Russian women and men from Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. My takeaways from the first episode are that modesty is considered voluntary for many people, anyone who's anyone in the Brighton Beach Russian community hangs out at the bath house, and it's encouraged to marry within the Russian community.
We first met Marina, who was criticized for thinking the world revolves around her. If she does think that, she'll probably continue to feel that way, as the show seems to revolve around her as well. She clearly commanded the most screen time out of all the women. Her big issue in this episode is that her mother-in-law, Eva, is competing in a 'grandma beauty pageant', and it's super embarrassing to Marina. She's most appalled by her MIL's desire to wear a skimpy outfit, which she claims is unacceptable after the age of fifty.
We also met a woman struggling with dating outside of the Russian community (Diana), a girl who wanted to wait to get married and have kids, and some other women who didn't make much of an impact. (Sorry!)
Overall, I say this show isn't that exciting, and I think that if you have the choice between doing something social or watching Russian Dolls, you should take the chance to get out of the house.
Also, I'm not convinced that Russian Dolls is going to do much for the public perception of Russian-Americans. I took a quick glimpse at the hashtag #RussianDolls on Twitter, and the first thing I saw were Russians defending themselves, saying that not all Russians are like the women on the show. This sounds a whole lot like the outrage that appeared when Jersey Shore hit the air. That being said, the Jersey Shore formula worked great for MTV and the stars of the show (except maybe Angelina) and like The Real Housewives of New Jersey did for Bravo, so maybe Russian Dolls will do the same for Lifetime.
I do have to give credit where credit is due, and that's in the area of names. I love names, and some of the Russian women have fantastic names. Marina, Anastasia, Eva, Anna, Diana...these are beautiful, classy names that sound great in both Russian and American dialects.
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