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Primetime Show Reviews
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
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
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.
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:
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
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
Dolls will premiere on
Thursday, August 11, at 10:30PM ET/PT.
Over the course of 12 half-hour episodes,
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
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.
(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.
(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.
-- 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.
-- 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.
--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.
--She rules her 30-year marriage with an iron fist, while her husband Sasha runs
a local jewelry store.
is produced by Left/Right and executive
produced by Banks Tarver and Ken Druckerman (Mob
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
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
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
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
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
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 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 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 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
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
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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