Television Without Pity

‘Russian Dolls’: Do They Fist-Pump in Brighton Beach?

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The Russians are coming -- to your TV (Barbara Nitke/Lifetime)

The Russians are coming -- to your TV (Barbara Nitke/Lifetime)

Lifetime is trying really hard to expand by adding a host of new reality shows, but while "Dance Moms" and "Roseanne's Nuts" are fun shows and "Project Runway" is classy, "Russian Dolls" is neither. It isn't compelling in any way, no matter how many stupid quotes are doled out in the teasers. It's tedious, like "Mob Wives," but without the constant phone calls to jail and the ridiculous feuds. Still, there were ways that this show could have been good, but it missed out, at least in the series premiere.

The show was sitting on a possible gold mine with its introduction of Grandma Pageants. We'd watch the hell out of older ladies learning to belly dance and training for these things. Is there some sort of pageant consultant? Is there a mean lady who screams at them to practice harder? Do elderly ladies have to wear flippers, or are dentures the same thing? How many hair extensions do they have? Do wrinkles help or hinder them when it comes to judging? What do the rules say about fake breasts? These are the burning questions that we would like to know the answers to. Perhaps we've just been watching too much "Toddlers & Tiaras."

They also could have focused on the fact that Marina and her husband own a Russian nightclub called Rasputin (according to her, the most famous Russian nightclub in the world). They do events and parties, and we really want to see what those look like. Getting an inside peek at Russian nightlife in America and how Marina caters to their clientele could have been interesting -- in a "Jersey Shore" sort of way. Do Russian-Americans fist-pump?

[Photos: Meet the Cast of "Russian Dolls"]

The most interesting aspect of the premiere was how Diana (who is 23) and her friends are all struggling to date and find good Russian guys because their parents disapprove of non-Russians when it comes to marrying. There could have been a whole show built around these hot girls trying desperately to find their husbands, with a focus on all the maintenance they have to do to catch the attention of attractive men. These young girls are trying to live an American life without giving up Russian traditions, and they have an interesting perspective on what they'd like their lives to be like, but instead, most of the first episode (which is only 30 minutes long) was focused on Marina's impatience and desire to buy expensive jewelry.

We might give "Russian Dolls" another chance, but we have little hope that it will ever be a cohesive show. It seems all over the place with these personalities who seemingly have little to do with one another, and isn't devoting any time to the issues that we really want to see explored.

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