Friday, August 26, 2011

Russian Dolls: Recap Episode 3 “Tough Russian Love”

Impossible Mom or Spoiled Brat?

“Tough Russian Love” is an episode about Anastasia and her relationship with her mother. But it also speaks to the impossible demands of Russian parents on their children and the fact that Russians, are in general, impossible to please.

First thing we hear is Anastasia’s bio, while they show her getting a fake tan a la Jersey Shore. Her family moved here from the Ukraine when she was three years old because they wanted her to have a good education. Her father was the director of a psychiatric facility and her mother was an actress and they both sacrificed their careers to come here. As these words come out of her mouth, in walk her friends and she is asking where’s the alcohol? They begins round after round of vodka shots with her friends. You get the impression that she doesn’t appreciate all they have given up.

Anastasia lives with Diana. Eddie is visiting. Anastasia says she is a political science major and wants to change to speech. She explains she has been indecisive because she has options and it is taking her a while to decide what career she wants to go into. Her parents pay for her education. They have told her that as long as she is in school they will take care of her. She says she is trying so hard to become something, to have a career, but she keeps switching majors. Her father told her that no matter what she chooses she needs to like it. But Aanstasia is 25 years old already. Most students graduate at 22. Private colleges cost close to 25 to 30 thousand per year. We don’t know what college she is attending, but at that cost, her extra three years may have added a financial burden to her family.

Over to the gym where Renata Krumer is working out. She says she is determined to live every day as a beautiful person. Her husband Boris looks like a Russian gangster, aggressive and tough. Inside he is her cookie. She has a lot of jobs: she hosts events, and she hosts one of the most popular radio shows of Brighton Beach. She and Boris will be hosting the opening of a new Russian restaurant, 1,001 Nights, and she is going to be singing for the very first time, so she is rehearsing and very nervous. Boris is coaching her as though he knows something about singing. She says, for a Russian man to feel like a man, he has to be in control. He wants her performance to be good so they will get more business and make more money. Even Renata says he is a terrible teacher, although his intentions are good.

Anastasia meets her mom for dinner. Her mom is always on her case about something, anything. Her mother asks how she is and asks about college and her current major. Anastasia tells her is switched to Speech Therapy. Her mother says that is the third major she has had. Her mom says that they have supported her, but they are getting old. They love her, but there comes a time when she has to be an adult and become responsible for her life. Her mother wants her to finish school, have a career, get married and have kids. Russian moms expect a lot out of their kids. Anastasia perceives her mother’s comments as having a lack of faith and confidence in her, instead of the concern that she is really expressing. Anastasia thinks her mother sees her as a loser. Then she announces she is 25! At 25 she is just starting a Speech Therapy major? I happen to know that this will require several more years of schooling. The Master’s Degree alone takes an additional two years after getting the bachelor’s degree. She tells her mom she wants to be independent and take care of herself and asks her mom to be patient with her. She needs more time. I think Anastasia is really taking advantage of her parent’s generosity.

Renata and Boris go to check out 1001 Nights before she has to perform. She says she feels like Barbra Streisand. As she rehearses at the restaurant, Boris is coaching her like we are at a sporting event. He is shouting instructions and bound to make her more nervous and less confident. He is too critical and it’s upsetting her.

Anastasia says her mom in a nag. She doesn’t accept that Anastasia is growing up and won’t let go. Because she switched majors a few times and is still torn, she decides to meet with a career counselor. She says she is double majoring in political science and speech. She wants to make sure that every decision she makes in her life is perfect. She just wants to make her parents proud. After hearing what Anastasia has to say, the counselor says she would advise her to lean towards law. Anastasia seems happy with her assessment. Now she is considering law school.

Renata meets with Svetlana to ask how she should deal with Boris. She explains about the restaurant opening and her singing. Svetlana tells her she can do whatever she wants to do. That’s when Renata reveals that Boris’ coaching is too aggressive like Russian KGB. Svetlana’s advice? Boris wants to be in control, let him be in control and then turn around and do what you want to do. Renata decides to tune out Boris for the sake of her performance.

Anastasia and mom meet again. She asks Anastasia how is everything. She is excited to tell her mom about the career counselor. Anastasia says the counselor asked her a lot of questions and told her to stick with law. Her mother thinks this is a serious decision because they have to consider how to pay for law school. Anastasia says she will take out loans. Her mother asks who will pay the loans. Anastasia says she will. Anastasia gets upset, she thinks her mother isn’t proud of her or supporting her and is just worried about the money. Her mother is struggling to communicate in English for the show, so maybe she cannot say everything she wants to say. Anastasia gets hysterical and lays into her mother before allowing her to say what her concerns are. Her mother is worried about how she will pay for her loans, which is legitimate, but Anastasia just curses her out. She tells her to leave and go home. The hurt expression on her mother’s face is heart breaking. “This is why I hate you and don’t want to be around you,” she says to her mother. It’s very brutal. She keeps complaining that she doesn’t support her, BUT she is 25 years old and still in school and her parents have been paying all these years already! Her mother reluctantly leaves, but not before telling her how much she loves her. Anastasia doesn’t get it, she doesn’t understand her mother’s concerns and never lets her talk. Law school is another three years after she gets her bachelor degree and more expensive. Any good mother would be concerned.

Anastasia tells Diana about her meeting with her mother. Because her mother is worried about the loans, the girls perceive that as seeing the bad in everything and always wanting more. Russian parents are tough and have high expectations. But, Anastasia needs to grow up. At 25 she should be out on her own supporting herself. I wonder who is paying her share of the rent for the apartment?

Renata gets ready for her event. Boris criticizes her dress as being too summery. Her boots don’t go with the dress. Renata decides she will not let Boris stress her out. They arrive at the restaurant where she will be singing with Boris for the first time. All the cast is there to support them. By the way, she did change her dress after all. And Marina shows up with her annoying high pitched voice! Renata announces the opening and starts singing while everyone is dancing. When they are done, she sees everyone is happy. Boris grabs her and says we need to talk. He says he tried so hard to explain to her what she needed to do. It’s mind boggling how great she did. He can’t stop complimenting her.

We end at Anastasia and Diana’s place. Anastasia has invited her mother over. She wants to explain to her mother why she reacted the way she did so she will understand. Her mother understands they have issues because of the loans. Her mother says she is proud of her because she is a strong person. Anastasia says she was so mad because she felt she wasn’t being accepted. She apologizes and says she is sorry. Her mother says it has never happened before and she was a little bit frustrated, and maybe she was wrong, and she thanks her daughter for the apology. Then she apologizes herself.

My two cents: Boris needs to ease up on Renata. He cannot control her every move. He should stick to his own business and let her run her own life. She is 46 years old and very successful lin her own right. She is nice enough to let him have a say or ask for his opinion, but he really takes the control issue too far.

Anastasia was very wrong to talk to her mother the way she did. Her parents have paid for her education and she is 25. That is three extra years of tuition. If she had decided on law school at 18 she would have been graduating already. Her parents should not be punished for her indecision and she should have seen a counselor a long time ago. The way she poke to her mother was simply unforgivable!

Is Anastasia’s mother impossible OR is Anastasia a spoiled brat? Let us know what you think.

Picture credit: Lifetime

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