‘Homecoming’ and ‘Russian Doll’ Explore Existential Half-Hour Journeys With Trippy Timelines

Both Amazon Prime’s “Homecoming” and Netflix’s “Russian Doll” provocatively play with the 30-minute format, cramming their existential journeys with confusing timelines and visual detail. But, thanks to binge watching, the two shows actually function like long movies, according to editors Rosanne Tan (“Homecoming”) and Laura Weinberg (“Russian Doll”).

In “Homecoming,” the ’70s-style conspiracy thriller from director Sam Esmail (“Mr. Robot”), social worker Heidi (Julia Roberts) tries to help troubled soldiers transition back to civilian life in one timeline (shot in a wide aspect ratio), while attempting to solve the strange mystery of her memory loss as a result of a nefarious plot in a future timeline (shot in a shorter aspect ratio). And, in “Russian Doll,” the black comedy from showrunner/star Natasha Lyonne, her self-absorbed software engineer, Nadia, repeatedly dies on her 36th birthday in a “Groundhog Day”-like loop, only to discover fellow traveler, Alan (Charles Barnett), also stuck in time.
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