All the References to Russian Stereotypes and Culture in Alessandra Stanley’s Russian Dolls Review

Map of Russia (via Time for Kids)

Map of Russia (via Time for Kids)


Russian Dolls is a new reality series on Lifetime about the habits and lifestyles of women of Russian extraction in Brighton Beach. Alessandra Stanley is an acid-tongued New York Times critic who wants to show you that she was paying attention in sophomore-year European history (or, maybe, during her stint as Moscow correspondent), by totting out her references. They’re defined below!:

  • “borscht-and-bling” (a Ukrainian beet soup and gaudy jewelry or a Stanley-coined subgenre of reality television into which this show falls)
  • The Kremlin (the governing body of the former U.S.S.R., which Ms. Stanley suggests might make a good Real Housewives series)
  • matryoshkas (Russian dolls containing smaller versions of themselves inside, or, somehow, metaphorically, the way plastic surgery has made reality-TV stars look? Unclear/apocryphal.)
  • “Pushkin-reciting violinists and math prodigies of Brighton Beach” (a group of Russian-Americans of whom Ms. Stanley approves, unlike the cast members, whom she speculates are from a uniquely reality-TV ready ethnicity: “There seem to be plenty of Russian-Americans who fit the niche; the producers didn’t have any difficulty recruiting a gaggle of vain, vulgar spendthrifts willing to hiss, preen and cry on cue for the camera.”)
  • Gary Shteyngart (Russian-American author whose plots might have predicted the themes of Russian Dolls.)
  • Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Russian author and victim of gulag torture whose wounds pale in comparison to watching Russian Dolls)
  • “Slavic soullessness” (what differentiates the Russian Dolls cast from The Real Housewives of New Jersey.)
  • Volga (River in central Russia whose name conveniently shares four letters with “vulgar”) :: @DPD_


  1. Roman says:

    Check out my audition video for this show, trust me i have MORE scoops about these cast members then anyone, plus behind the scenes info​wand Oy Mamachka: Russian Dolls To Premier On Lifetime–Roman “The Solution”

  2. Nobo says:

    Volga was also a popular Russian car in the USSR era.