Russian Doll, Netflix

Another month, another female-generated show most broadcasters would think too rude, risky and conceptual to touch but which Netflix has taken a punt on and brought to life – and that's an appropriate metaphor given the plot and subject matter of this likeable eight-part curio.

It centres on Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne), a foul-mouthed, drug-guzzling software engineer living a Bohemian life in one of New York’s hippest enclaves who goes to a 36th birthday party thrown in her honour, smokes a joint laced with (she thinks) cocaine, leaves with a man, has sex, gets hit by a car and dies – only to come back to life staring at her own reflection in a mirror in a bathroom at that same party. Which is exactly what she was doing when episode one opened. And so it went, death after death after death (falling down the stairs was a speciality, but it was just one in cornucopia of outlandish demises). Then it was always back to the same party afterwards.

Groundhog Day it isn’t. Nadia spent much of the opening episodes looking for her cat, which brought to mind Haruki Murakami’s cult novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and there were nods in other directions too, as well as hints at something deeper. She wondered aloud at one point whether she was in an elaborate real-life version of Michael Douglas film The Game, which also turns on a birthday party, and on a more serious note we learned that her own mother had been afflicted by some sort of mental illness. She also started to obsess about the building in which the party was taking place, a one-time yeshiva or Jewish school. Could that have a bearing on what was happening to her now? Or is it some Sartrean vision of hell? With each death and subsequent reanimation she tried to piece it all together, though every attempt was reliably curtailed when she fell in the river, say, or was involved in a car accident (that one while trying to have herself sectioned with the help of therapist and family friend Ruth Brenner, played by veteran actress Elizabeth Ashley).

Lyonne, an animated presence with enormous hair who shouts virtually every line, is exhausting to watch. But in a good way. The show itself, meanwhile, is laugh-out-loud funny, crackling with scurrilous one-liners from the pens of its writers –Leslye Headland, Saturday Night Live and Parks And Recreation star Amy Poehler and Lyonne herself – and pitching an army of weird and wonderful characters into the mix with every subsequent re-birth. Russian Doll could well be the sleeper hit of 2019.