Review of "Russian Dolls" on Lifetime From The TV MegaSite
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Primetime Show Reviews

Russian Dolls

"Russian Dolls" review by Suzanne
Premieres Aug 11 at 10:30/9:30c on Lifetime

I thought at first that this reality show was kind of like Jersey Shore or one of those other similar shows. It follows a Russian community in Brighton Beach, NY. It focuses mainly on the young women, who are Americans, even if their parents are Russian and try to keep to the same culture. It's not as trashy as those other shows.

It was kind of interesting because I had no idea people like this still existed (at least not from Europe--maybe Central America or Asia). These young women get a lot of pressure from their families. They aren't supposed to date people who aren't Russian. One woman has quite a talk with her mom about it, since she is dating a "Spanish" guy. (I'm guessing that means Latino, not that he's from Spain)

They showed a Granny pageant where the grandmas went to perform and dance around. One of them was very happy to be competing because she'd always wanted to be a performer in Russian, but instead she was an engineer. Even though it was the biggest thing of her life, her family got tired of waiting around, so they left. She won the contest, but they weren't there to share it with her. That was very sad. On the other hand, the family had been waiting for 5 hours, so I can sort of understand their impatience. You would think they would just take the children home and then come back, or leave some of the other adults there.

Anyway, I found it to be a fascinating peek into a community of people in our country. I wish they would make more shows that were like this. It wasn't trashy like I expected. I have no idea how much of it is "real" but it seemed to be a fairly honest slice-of-life episode about these Russian-Americans.

More info:

With unprecedented access to one of the most interesting and mysterious communities in the U.S., Lifetime will premiere Russian Dolls (formerly Brighton Beach), its all-new reality series following the fast-paced comings and goings of eight larger-than-life men and women who live fully, love passionately and work hard as only they can in Brooklyn’s historic Russian-American neighborhood, Brighton Beach. Russian Dolls will premiere Thursday, August 11, at 10:30PM ET/PT.

Full Press Release:

NA ZDOROVJE!

RUSSIAN DOLLS COME TO LIFE IN LIFETIME’S NEW REALITY SERIES PREMIERING AUGUST 11

Exclusive Access to Close-Knit Brooklyn Neighborhood Provides Rare Look into Life in Russian-American Community

LOS ANGELES, CA (July 20, 2011) – With unprecedented access to one of the most interesting and mysterious communities in the U.S., Lifetime will premiere Russian Dolls (formerly Brighton Beach), its all-new reality series following the fast-paced comings and goings of eight larger-than-life men and women who live fully, love passionately and work hard as only they can in Brooklyn’s historic Russian-American neighborhood, Brighton Beach. Russian Dolls will premiere on Thursday, August 11, at 10:30PM ET/PT.

Over the course of 12 half-hour episodes, Russian Dolls will provide a rare and entertaining look at Brighton Beach’s colorful multi-generational families whose dramas and dreams contend with their Russian heritage while living in this famous, alluring, vibrant and highly protective community. By going deep inside the daily life of this charismatic group of close-knit friends and family, we’ll see that they are anything but wooden dolls:

Anna (22) -- An aspiring model and skillful flirt, Anna recently opened her own modeling school. She craves the spotlight but still lives in a tiny apartment with her parents and meddling grandmother.

Diana (23) -- The goal in life for this princess is to find a man she can marry. Of course, her prince will need to drive a nice car and pay for absolutely everything.

Anastasia (26) -- Graduating college is not in the cards for this Russian darling who seems more interested in going to the gym, tanning, applying makeup and making sure her hair extensions stay in place.

Eddie Zee (26) -- A handsome lady-killer, Eddie is looking to make a name for himself in the world, while juggling the ladies and his busy social calendar.

Albert (26) -- A wheeler-dealer who values his money and social status in Brighton Beach, Albert knows exactly what he wants: to make millions of dollars and bring a nice Russian girl home to his mom.

Marina (34) -- Dripping in furs and diamonds, Marina is all about status. When she isn’t going head-to-head with her spirited mother-in-law, Eva (age 56), Marina runs the popular local club/restaurant Rasputin with her husband Michael and knows everyone in Brighton Beach.

Renata (47) --Sweet, energetic and whimsical, Renata hosts a popular Russian radio show. She’s always trying to make nice when it comes to her friends and lovable, yet overbearing, husband Boris.

Sveta (47) --She rules her 30-year marriage with an iron fist, while her husband Sasha runs a local jewelry store.

Russian Dolls is produced by Left/Right and executive produced by Banks Tarver and Ken Druckerman (Mob Wives, Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane, This American Life), and Rob Sharenow, Gena McCarthy and Colleen Conway of Lifetime Television, with Elina Miller, Alina Dizik and Edward Simpson co-executive producing.

ABOUT LIFETIME TELEVISION

Lifetime Television is committed to offering the highest quality entertainment and information programming, and advocating a wide range of issues affecting women and their families. Lifetime Television®, Lifetime Movie Network®, Lifetime Real Women® and Lifetime Digital™ (which includes myLifetime.com, LMN.tv, Lifetime Games, Roiworld.com, DressUpChallenge.com and LifetimeMoms.com) are part of Lifetime Entertainment Services, LLC, a subsidiary of A+E Networks. A+E Networks is a joint venture of the Disney-ABC Television Group, Hearst Corporation and NBC Universal.

Anna 22 Birthplace: Symu, Ukraine

Immigrating to the United States only 10 years ago, Anna is part of the newest wave of immigrants to Brighton Beach. She shares a cramped two-bedroom apartment with her parents, sister and Russian-speaking grandmother. Anna is a model who mostly poses for catalogs and small shoots in everything from racy underwear to wigs. She sees her glamorous profession as a way to support her struggling family and get her the few designer things she covets. Anna recently opened her own modeling school for local preteens and spends all her time teaching them to be coveted Russian models. She hopes if her business expands, she’ll finally have her own bedroom. A huge flirt who craves the spotlight, Anna is never without a boyfriend, but her relationships only last a few weeks. She has lots of friends and loves when others look up to her, but when she doesn’t get her way, she’ll do whatever it takes to make things go her way.

Diana 23 Birthplace: Kishinev, Moldova

Often referred to as “The Princess,” Diana seems to have the perfect appearance, whether it’s natural (breasts) or fake (nose). Meticulously put together, she is always seen in designer clothing and fine jewelry (usually gifts from her current boyfriend). The latest man she dated gave her a $3,000 bracelet. Men love Diana, and Diana likes having them foot the bills.

Diana will be graduating from the local college in January with a business degree, but her main goal is to find a good Russian man to marry and move to a luxury condo on the beach. But first she has to graduate, and juggling exams and boys can be difficult. Diana is an only child, and her mom and dad are eager for her to stop partying and start building a home of her own. “Princess” is used to getting the best and has everyone, including her parents, wrapped around her finger.

Anastasia 26 Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine

Anastasia is good hearted and well intentioned, but often makes poor decisions. She loves Brighton Beach and never wants to leave. Anastasia says she likes “culture,” but her life revolves around tanning and making sure her extensions stay in place. She briefly thought about attending law school, but believes it will be too difficult, so instead, she has decided to study speech pathology. Anastasia’s parents, who moved her to the United States for a better life, are always nagging her. After seven years of school and constantly changing her major, she must assure them that things are under control. A walking contradiction, Anastasia can be sweet and gullible, but she is also mistrusting and harsh with men as a result of her four-year on and off relationship with Eddie. The two have been friends since they were nine years old and have spent a lot of time together, with Eddie often serving as her protector. As school comes to an end and her job hunt begins, Anastasia wants to know what’s next.

Eddie Zee 26 Birthplace: Chernivtsi, Ukraine

With his model good looks and a body to boot, Eddie is a lady-killer who is hungry to make a name for himself in the world. His new job as a client booker at a Times Square talent agency makes it difficult for him to juggle his busy social calendar. Very disciplined, Eddie spends plenty of time at the gym and is constantly on a low-carb diet. He would love to have his own modeling career but has no idea how to break into the business.

Eddie is a well-mannered charmer, and girls instantly fall for him. He’s a self-confessed heartbreaker and a wannabe poet who writes heartfelt missives to the world on a blog. Eddie’s parents are separated, but he is still close with them. He acts like a big brother to Anastasia and has always been there to help her out (or chase the boys away). Eddie is the kind of guy you want to root for even if you shouldn’t.

Albert 26 Birthplace: Kishinev, Moldova

Below Albert’s bravado lies a sweet mommy’s boy. Back in the former Soviet Union, his father was an engineer who left behind a luxurious lifestyle with a chauffeur and a large home. In an attempt to give his family an even better life, his father moved them to the United States with a few thousand dollars when Albert was six years old. Once in the United States, Albert’s father swept floors in a local deli to support his family. Now, money and social status mean everything to Albert, and he is making sure he’ll have it all and soon. He’s a sports fanatic who shops a lot and parties every night, building up a network of local contacts. Albert is a wheeler-dealer, often involved in new businesses. He has two missions in life – to make a million dollars and marry a nice Russian girl – but first he needs to get the approval of his overbearing mother.

Marina 34 Birthplace: Rostov-on-Don, Russia

Marina married her high school sweetheart Michael and had her first child by age 22. Now she’s the perfect Russian housewife to her Bentley driving husband. The two own and run the local club/restaurant Rasputin, a Brighton Beach fixture where everyone goes to party, show off their cars and furs, and splurge on caviar and vodka. At Rasputin, there is live entertainment, but more often, the real show comes from the patrons. Marina is straight talking, opinionated and knows everything about everyone in Brighton Beach. She is often dripping in diamonds and designer brands (she’s not one to leave the house in sweatpants unless they are made by Prada). After all, owning a well-known Russian restaurant means she has an image to uphold. Marina is also a mom to two very precocious children, ages six and 12. When she’s not retreating to her Miami pied-àterre, she loves being a mom. Marina has it all, apart from control over Michael’s mother Eva, a 50-something grandma who missed her calling as a performer, and instead put all her energy towards her son.

Renata 47 Birthplace: Babrysk, Belarus

With the energy and the wardrobe of a 25-year-old, Renata is the local celebrity in town. She hosts a local radio show on Radio Pozitiv five days a week, emcees local events and sees herself as a mentor and life coach to everyone. Boris, her commanding husband, is often by her side, and together, they’re one memorable couple. Renata is a poetry lover who purrs her words and speaks in zingy one-liners. She’s also a sweetheart who wants to help everyone, even if it means hurting herself.

Immigrating to the United States in her 20s, Renata is nostalgic for Soviet sensibility. She feels Russians in Brighton Beach are too obsessed with money and status. Renata likes to look good but does it modestly by dying her own hair, not drinking and staying on a strict diet. She has been married to her second husband Boris for 14 years. In an attempt to stay married, Renata does her best to keep things fresh and interesting, enrolling the couple in everything from tango lessons to Russian theater.

Sveta 47 Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine

Sveta hasn’t left Brighton Beach since she immigrated 20 years ago with two children, her husband Sasha and $400. They live only a few blocks from where they first settled, but now have a very different life. Sveta is a grandmother, but cooing over her newly born grandchild is not her thing. Instead, she is often partying alongside her daughter and son-in-law. She thinks the majority of Brighton Beach women are hypocrites who talk badly about it, but never leave Brighton Beach. Her daughter’s lavish wedding was held at Rasputin.

Sveta takes her job as a private banker to rich clientele seriously and is a big spender herself. Her diamonds are large, partly because Sasha owns a local jewelry store that the other women frequent. Despite the baubles, she is Sasha’s toughest critic and often ribs him with her comical trademark phrases. After 30 years of marriage their tastes in jewelry and many other things don’t always align.

LEFT/RIGHT

Left/Right is a leading producer of documentary and reality television programming. The company creates unscripted television and film projects that illuminate the drama and comedy of real life. The stories they tell are honest and surprising, revealing and entertaining, dramatic and cinematic. Left/Right blends the conventions of documentary filmmaking with the look and feel of scripted television. Their talents and tastes are as eclectic as their production slate – current projects run the gamut from docu-soap to documentary, competition to celeb-reality, serious fare to seriously funny…and everything in between. Recent productions include This American Life, the Emmy Award-winning television adaptation of the popular public radio series (for Showtime) – to The Real Face Of Jesus?, a highly-rated feature documentary for The History Channel – to Mob Wives for VH1. Left/Right clients include television networks such as A&E, History, Lifetime, VH1, Bravo, HGTV, MTV and many others. Banks Tarver and Ken Druckerman are the co-founders and co-presidents of the company, which is based in New York City.

Banks Tarver Executive Producer

Banks Tarver is co-founder/co-president of Left/Right. After graduating from college at Harvard and law school at Berkeley, he returned to his home state of Texas to work as a civil rights attorney. Several years later, hoping to add to his staggering student loan debt, Tarver returned to school to attend Stanford’s nonfiction filmmaking program. While there, he directed several music videos that appeared on MTV and the awardwinning documentary Watch Me Jumpstart, about the legendary, rock band Guided By Voices. In 1997, Tarver joined the senior staff of MTV’s News and Documentaries Department, where he developed and supervised the hit documentary series True Life. In addition to supervising the first several seasons, he also produced and directed many of the most popular and highest rated True Life episodes in the history of the series, including Pro Wrestler, Porn Star and Summer Share on the Jersey Shore. Tarver also created and produced the pioneering two-hour special First Year, and supervised and produced many of MTV’s pro-social documentaries including Candidate and Aftermath of Terror. Tarver is often referred to as the “good cop” at Left/Right, famous for his ability to reach consensus and to calm the nerves of jittery staffers and clients. This cool demeanor also allows him to play hilarious pranks on unsuspecting staff members who can never seem to tell when he’s just messing with them.

Ken Druckerman Executive Producer

Ken Druckerman is co-founder/co-president of Left/Right. He graduated from film school at NYU and began his career as a cinematographer, working his way up through the ranks while focusing primarily on documentary projects. Along the way, Druckerman was afforded the opportunity to collaborate with many of the best and the brightest storytellers in nonfiction. His credits include critically acclaimed documentary series such as Frontline (PBS), Boston 24/7 (ABC), The Residents (Discovery), the feature documentary Ghosts of Attica, and many others. When the reality television craze took hold, Druckerman allowed himself to be sucked right into the vortex. He parlayed his experience as a cameraman into new opportunities as a producer and director on reality shows of all shapes and sizes for networks such as A&E and Discovery. At the same time, Druckerman launched a production company that created documentaries, commercials, and promotional films for clients such as Chrysler, Procter & Gamble and MTV. His ability to alternate between gritty documentary projects and glossy commercial work and to merge such disparate job descriptions and styles has proved to be invaluable in his work as an executive producer. Druckerman enjoys finding and hiring smart people and taking credit for their great work. He also likes to write in the third person, on the off chance that it will disguise the fact that he is writing this very blurb himself.

101 - MAMA DEAREST

Marina's mother-in-law Eva enters a Grandmother Pageant and threatens to embarrass the entire family. Meanwhile Diana struggles to tell her mother that she is dating a "Spanish."

102 - TOUGH RUSSIAN LOVE

Anastasia clashes with her mom Ida over a new life direction. Renata and Boris rehearse to perform at a new restaurant opening.

103 - FROM UKRAINE WITH LOVE

Anna puts together her first fashion show and alienates her friends in the process.

104 - RUSKI BUSINESS

Marina hosts Sveta's Jewelry Show at Rasputin with disastrous results. Anastasia debates giving her ex-boyfriend Vlad another chance.

105 - CALENDER GIRLS

Diana and Anastasia enter the Brighton Beach Calendar Girl contest. Renata deals with insecurities about her varicose veins.

106 - NEW YEAR, OLD GRIEVANCES

A tarot reading ignites conflict between Diana, Anastasia, and Anna leading to a blow out at Russian New Years. Marina is forced to deal with Russian girls fighting in her home and in her restaurant.

107 - COLD WARS

Diana goes against her parents wishes and has lip liner tattooed onto her mouth. Meanwhile Marina refuses to go to the cemetery with Michael and Eva.

108 - IT TAKES DVA TO TANGO

Anna cheats on her new boyfriend Anthony with an old flame. Renata begs Boris to join her for tango lessons.

109 - SINGLE RUSSIAN FEMALE

Diana begins dating her perfect match. Meanwhile, Eva troubles the family by dating a much younger man.

110 - EASTERN PROMISES

Anna is caught off guard when she learns Albert has feelings for her. The two begin to explore the possibility of being more than friends. Michael pressures Marina about having a third child.

111 - PERESTROIKA

Renata is starring in her first play off Broadway, but the feud between Marina and Sveta escalates and stands to ruin her opening night. Diana and Anastasia hear noises in their creaky apartment building and learn about the Russian spirit – Domovoi.

112 - RUSSIAN DOLLS

The women of Brighton Beach celebrate International Women's Day while Eddie and Albert coming to blows over Anna's affection.

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Updated 8/10/11 

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