The first season of ‘Russian Doll,’ Netflix’s quirky magic realism series, is almost exclusively based in contemporary New York, except for the flashback sequence involving Nadia’s childhood, set in the late 1980s or early 1990s. This makes sense given the inherent constraints of the narrative.
Movies and TV shows that use a time loop as a plot device regularly use their setting in an effective way to demonstrate a sense of claustrophobia. However, in season 2, ‘Russian Doll’ understandably expands its narrative with time travel serving as the main plot device. If you want to know more about the time and places that ‘Russian Doll’ season 2 is set in, we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.
What Time and Places Is Russian Doll Season 2 Set in?
The series begins in New York in contemporary time (2022), ten days to go before Nadia’s 40th birthday. As she takes the 6 trains from 77th Street to visit her friend Maxine, she has no idea that the universe is ready to mess with her once more. This time, it’s even worse than death. When she disembarks from the train at Astor Place, it’s 1982. The truly terrifying part of this experience is that Nadia finds herself inhabiting the mind and body of her mother.
‘Russian Doll’ depicts the New York of 1982 through a prism of pop culture and socio-political references. ‘Sophie’s Choice’ has just come out, the mohawk is still a popular hairstyle among social rebels, and terms such as “Wi-Fi” and “millennials” are yet to be coined. Realizing that she has an opportunity to rewrite her past, Nadia tries to ensure that the family doesn’t lose its heirlooms, the 150 Krugerrands. However, it soon emerges that her actions have bizarre but not-so-unexpected consequences.
Later in the series, Nadia travels to Hungary, Budapest, with Maxine in 2022 to find out what happened to the valuables that the family had before World War II. At one point, she falls asleep after boarding a 6 train and wakes up in Budapest, but in 1944. When she looks at a mirror this time, a younger version of her grandmother stares back. This is the tail end of World War II, but Hungary is still under Nazi control. The subway system of the New York City of 1968 briefly serves as the setting for season 2 as well.
Alan Zaveri (Charlie Barnett), who was also trapped in the circle of deaths and mirrors along with Nadia in the first season, learns about time-traveling trains from her. They have spent the last three of Nadia’s birthdays on high alert, fearing one misstep would trigger another time loop. Alan is doing significantly better than he had been in the first season but still has a long way to go. In season 2, he finds some happiness when he decides to try out the 6-train time travel himself. He ends up in East Germany in 1962, inhabiting the mind and body of his grandmother, Agnes, a student from Ghana. The Berlin Wall hasn’t fallen yet — and will not for 27 years — and that part of Germany is under the control of a Communist government.
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