Russian Doll Reflection and Review – Taylor Timinskas #QuestusReview

The premise of the  Russian Doll  narrative follows the classic groundhog day situation where the a person gets stuck in a loop repeating the same day. Russian Doll could very easily have been a boring reincarnation of this idea, but it’s not. This series focuses more on character development than just the normal arch of becoming a better person. I also love the angle of having two individuals, Nadia and Alan, going through this journey together, but having to overcome their own past struggles and crisis individually. I think it was really creative to have Nadia and Alan cross paths and be put in a situation where they have to help each other become a better person, instead of going through a time of self-realization alone.

As a viewer, what I found more confusing was how Nadia’s and Alan’s timelines changed at the end of the season. My interpretation of the ending is that the first time that both Nadia and Alan are able to confront their own issues, they had their final death. Nadia’s is more evident because it is right when she approaches the kid for lunch with the book, a sign that she can move forward as see herself as a role model, unlike her own mother. Alan had his moment when he confronted his girlfriend with Nadia’s help and is able to stay calm about his relationship ending. The one issue with this is that this imperative moment for Alan’s character development happens before Nadia’s, even though they both die when Nadia starts coughing up blood, representing “her being inside her”.

Another element that I found interesting but also hard to analyze is the significance of Horse, the homeless man that appears in both Nadia’s and Alan’s lives repeatedly. Horse stands out out of all the supporting characters for not only being mysterious, but also for clearly having a symbolic meaning that is hard to decipher. The first time I noticed this as a viewer was when in a flashback, Nadia’s mom mentions how beautiful Nadia’s hair is and how its a representation of the weight her mother has on her. This made me realize how significant it was that Horse wanted to cut Nadia’s hair multiple times. It seems like Horse serves as a guide when Nadia and Alan are most lost in their struggles to face and overcome their past struggles and fears.

Overall, I would rate Russian Doll as a series as an 8/10. Even though it is based on a literally repetitive and overdone concept, the way its created goes beyond magical realism and tests of time, making Russian Doll an addictive and unpredictable show. I would definitely recommend!

The OA – Netflix Series Review by Taylor Timinskas #questusreviewus

One thing I think that all OA viewers can agree on is that the stylistic layout of the series itself resembles the absurdities and complexities that lie within the story. Starting with episode one, the background setup is somewhat grueling, but makes for an interesting, in-depth introduction that makes you click on to the next episode. We also experience Prairie’s storytelling in flashbacks that are cut day to day, messing with the timeline and leaving me asking more questions. One thing that I find personally enjoyable when watching a mysterious series is to contradict or challenge my own thoughts with each new episode. I went into the OA fully prepared to support the idea that Prairie’s life has supernatural elements. My role as the viewer from this point was to figure out why Prairie could see and what mystical elements surround her and the other people that make up the 5.

The most entertaining scenes of the series were the ones that made increasingly more skeptical of what I initially believed. I would ask myself if Prairie was insane or if other people wanted us to believe that. The theme of trust and acceptance is central in each episode. From having the kids and Betty learn to believe Prairie to the 5 having to learn to trust each other to escape, there are challenges that characters face that directly reflect the challenges that viewers face when deciding for themselves. Contrary to the way Pierre brought about the beauty of ambiguities, I think they were used really well in the OA. The ambiguities felt more like puzzles that were going to solved which is satisfying for any spectator.

In addition to this, I felt that the characters presented were crafted in a way that is both intriguing and endearing. Even the evil character, the “Angel Hunter” was given enough of a plot line that you wanted to learn his backstory and possibly even sympathize for him. The fact that my feeling towards Hap, essentially a monster in the series, shows how well scripted the show is and how well the actors played these roles. The show does a good job at showing the troublesome side of every character, making them more real and enriching the show as a whole. There wasn’t necessarily character development for any of the characters besides the kids, but there was a great amount of internal struggle for how Prairie directly affected her parents, friends, and other outsiders which adds to the mystical element.

Overall, the narrative and character relations is worth the struggle for answers, and I would highly recommend this series to anyone interested in supernatural or mystery genres. Additionally, be prepared for a cliffhanger at the end of season one to interpret!

Melville – Literary Genius or Failed Author

Review: Pierre, or the Ambiguities by Herman Melville

In short, if you want to be taken on a literary adventure for its references rather than its tale or themes, give this book a shot. If not, I would consider skipping on this torturous narrative. To give the novel some credit, the way Melville writes the chronicle allows it to be at times enjoyable, if you read just for the sake of reading some descriptive imagery and the mentions of famous literary works and art.  As a reader that cherishes the analysis of the “so what?” question following the end of a good read, Pierre leaves you too tired to even ask.

Pierre plays with the concept of time in a way that is no longer enjoyable for the reader, drawing out single, irrelevant moments of time and jumping into unnecessary background context for a whole book. One theme that I can show some appreciation for is difficult communication. It is evident how difficult it is for the narrative to communicate with us, the readers, even some of the most simple plot developments. There are tons of ambiguities, and maybe this was Melville’s intention to challenge the mode of literature. How could a novel potentially be masterful in philosophy but completely horrendous in plot? Was the way Melville pained his readers an act of art or just bad authorship? Either way, my final thoughts is that any message that Melville was trying to convey could have been done in an easier and more impactful way that wouldn’t make me question whether his ambiguities were enticing or just the outcome of bad writing.

Final Review : 3/5

Read Again? : No