Netflix’s Russian Doll season 2 will take even longer to come out thanks to this Coronavirus pandemic, but the show’s casting also hints at more time with Nadia Vulvokov’s troubled household. The darkly sarcastic and intricately existential dramedy centers around the aforementioned main character (played by Natasha Lyonne) and the exasperating Groundhog Day-Esque, time-repeating loop she is stuck in later dying on her 36th birthday.
Although the series certainly channels the sort of archetype Lyonne is known to perform well, which is apparently hard and unimpressed, in addition, it offers a deep dive into psychology, injury, and how individuals can”remain in loops” until they go back and finally address bits of the pasts that not correctly healed.
When linear time stops working for Nadia’s character in Russian Doll, she is finally able to embark on some much-needed introspection. And one highly influential component of her personal story is her mother, Lenora (Chloë Sevigny), who died when she was a child. She is shown to have dwelt with acute, unspecified mental health conditions and been shaky as a parent. And she died after losing custody of Nadia, something that the grief-stricken daughter never truly forgave herself for, always carrying guilt which wasn’t hers to bear.
Nadia’s inward journey to heal her younger self and penalizes her life finally comes to a conclusion when she and her fellow death-repeater, Alan (Charlie Barnett), save each others’ lives, in various ways, during the finale. But, in season 2, there’ll definitely be a new path to trace Nadia on. And it is looking like the memory of her mom will, once again, be an essential piece of it–and maybe even more prominently featured.
In 2020, Sevigny advised Digital Spy regarding the plan for Lenora’s character in Russian Doll’s season two: “Well, the character comes back more. It has…’abstract’ isn’t the word. There are some situations where…There’s more time-traveling, maybe.” And that is certainly the right direction for the show to go in. After season 1 conclusion, Nadia has a new level of self-awareness, as well as a better understanding of the earth, the human condition, and how it all fits together into a delightfully messy job of art.
With both her personality and the audience armed with all of this, the series can continue to lean into its profoundly psychological and philosophical elements. And, although the show is very complex, and there’s certainly a lot that makes it work, these aspects are crucial to that which makes it stand out from most other series in the previous few years.
Sorting through Nadia’s many layers (she’s obviously the metaphorical”Russian doll”) was a beautiful, on-screen character deconstruction of types. In her Digital Spy interview, Sevigny said of Lyonne’s functionality in season, “People always see her because of this brash New Yorker who’s smoking and. And the moments where she is vulnerable on the show I had been in tears every single time I was watching it.
I think she does not get enough credit for her performance in these moments.” Sevigny is right, which explains why introducing more of Nadia and Lenora’s complicated, painful, and also exceptionally important relationship can be used to showcase some of that very vulnerability. Which, coupled with Nadia’s dry, sharp sense of humor and outwardly hard demeanor, fleshes out a truly three-dimensional, resonant personality.
Although Lenora’s looming ghost is a major area of the show, viewers still do not learn a great deal about her in season 1. The crowd does see a number of her tragic behavior and knows about her heartbreaking, premature death, but there’s still a great deal to understand about her and how she is informed Nadia’s character within the context of Russian Doll.
The series may also use increased screentime for Sevigny’s portrayal to provide even more of an honest, empathetic look at the truth of living with mental health conditions and their impact on the loved ones of those dealing with them. Whatever course the Netflix show decides to take in year 2, it looks like it will feature more of Nadia’s late mother, and (ideally ) more of its nuanced, layered substance that so aptly lives up to the show’s name.