Lifetime’s ‘Russian Dolls’ puts a spin on reality TV

By Leslie Lange
September 14, 2011

Lifetime's new show 'Russian Doll's' shows the unpredictable lives of these Russian Americans living in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach. 'Russian Dolls' airs Thursdays 11:30 p.m.

Lifetime’s “Russian Dolls” is about eight Russian-American men and women living in Brighton Beach, New York.

There is a lot of talk about “Russian Dolls,” which is a reality show that follows  people from different generations in Brighton Beach..  The show follows the lives of  Diana, Anna, Anastasia, Eddie Zee, Albert,  Marina, Renata, and Sveta and on many occasions has been called Liftetime’s “Jersey Shore.”

This show is so much more than that. It is not just a bunch of young 20-somethings running around town and getting into mischief. It presents the clash of traditional values versus new American ways.

The older generation, throughout episodes one to three, express to their children that they want their daughters to not only be taken care of by their potential spouses, but they must be Russians, and wealthy, as well.  While they hold the notion that their Russian-American children should marry their own kind, they seem to defeat the reason they even came to this country in the first place.

Then, their daughters who are on the show look bad just because they voice that their men must take care of them financially. She gets criticized by her mother because she is dating a Hispanic.  There is the case of Anastasia, a pre-law student, who gets pushed around by her mother because Russians not only need to be successful, but they also have to be at the very top of their game.

This is not just another show full of gossip, hook-ups and glamor. It is a multi-generational inside look into the differences between how a certain nationality grows up. Yes, the younger girls may act like they are full of themselves and yes, the men seem a little egotistical. That is why this show is successful and controversial all at the same time.

“Gossip is like the blood that runs in Russian women’s veins,” Eddie Zee said in esipode three, (which is true for the rest of the world as well).  Gossip is what surrounds this Russian community and the community in Brighton Beach wants this taken off the air.

“The entire point of this show is to ridicule our community — to make us look like stupid, sex-crazed partiers,” Ari Kagan, a journalist and neighborhood activist who hosts a TV show on the Russian Television Network of America, said.

Overall, the show is different in its kind. Not only are there the 20-year-olds that party and live for their social calendars, but there are the 30-year-olds and almost 40-year-olds that set a balance between unnecessary drama that seems to control other shows like Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey” and  MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”

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Leslie Lange

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