Inarguably one of Netflix’s best Original shows, Russian Doll, created by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland, has helped breathe life into New York City while presenting to us the story of a crass-talking, smoke-pot of an existential heroine who keeps getting into weird, metaphysical predicaments involving space and time.
Infusing dark humour within the essentially poignant story of grief, existence and being, the second season of the show saw Lyonne return as the quintessential Manhattanite protagonist, Nadia Vulvakov, accompanied by her fellow sufferer Charlie Barnett’s Alan Zhaveri and her best friend Maxine, played by Greta Lee. Other cast members included Sharlto Copley, Elizabeth Ashley and Annie Murphy.
While the first season dealt with nihilistic and existential elements, true to the works of Nietzsche and Camus, the second season delves into the politics of time travel, reminding one of the glorious genres of sci-fi. Read Best of Netflix’s review of the current season here.
New York, too, stands as a constant reminder of Nadia’s traumatic past and present self, weaving in the intergenerational trauma and subsequent grief that pervades the show. New York City is an intrinsic part of Nadia, woven into her existence by the deft writing of the showrunners who have made a character out of a city.
Here are the various locations in New York City where Russian Doll season two was filmed:
Exploring the filming locations of ‘Russian Doll’ season 2
Astor Place Subway
Both the seasons of Russian Doll focus on a particular location for the most bizarre things to unfold. While the first season mainly concentrates on St. Nicholas Carpatho Church, the second season chooses Astor Place Subway to make Nadia go crazy.
Nadia enters the Astor Place subway to take the 6th train up to 77th street to visit Ruth who has just had an accident. Astor Place Subway is located pretty close to New York University and began in 1904 before being renovated in the mid-1980s, around the timeline the show takes us back to.
77th Street Subway Station
Hawk-eyed New Yorkers will notice that the shooting for 77th Subway Street actually took place in the Church Avenue station in Brooklyn due to shooting restrictions at 77th. It is when Nadia enters the subway at 77th Street that she encounters some pretty mind-boggling events. She sees different adverts, posters for Meryl Streep’s 1982 film Sophie’s Choice and people dressed in 80s grunge, sporting Travis Bickle-like haircuts.
Nadia exclaims to herself that it seems to be an 80s flash mob before bumping into a man donning the quintessential Guardian Angels red beret, indicating time travel.
Horseshow Bar appears quite frequently in both seasons. While the first season sees the bar appear in multiple scenes, including one where John saves Nadia from getting hit by a cab, the second season gives a closer insight into the bar.
Nadia finds out about her involvement – rather her mother’s involvement – with a conman named Chez when she ends up in the alternate timeline. Horseshoe Bar aka Vazacs is an old-school bar on the corner of the 7th street that serves jolly good drinks and a dash of punk music.
Tompkins Square Park
In season one, Nadia basically walks through this park to find her cat before befriending the homeless man, Horse. In the second season, Nadia is seen chasing after Chez for answers regarding the lost gold through the park.
Tompkins Square Park is actually massive and stretches from the 7th to the 10th street. It has become a central figure in the development of New York City’s pop culture and is the hub of various riots and movements, reminiscent of New York’s grim past.
New York Public Library
With the grandeur of Beaux-Arts style domes and other intricate architectural details, the New York Public Library’s iconic location on Fifth Avenue has made it a popular filming location in pop culture, appearing in shows and films like Glee, Seinfeld, Breakfast at Tiffany’s etc.
Nadia is seen researching the weird events at the Library. While the scene was actually filmed in a Midtown library named General Society for Mechanics and Tradesmen, the second season shows how Nadia struggles through the card catalogues of 1982 before reaching out to the librarian with questions that can help solve her problems.
Tiffereth Israel Town & Village Synagogue
Located on 14th Street and established in 1962, the Tiffereth Israel Town & Village Synagogue is now a designated landmark in New York City.
In the first season, it is in Tiffereth Israel Town and Village Synagogue that the rabbi, who initially refused to speak to Nadia, tells her that people are haunted, not buildings. Nadia wanted to talk to the rabbi to find a solution to the problems plaguing her. In the second season, Nadia simply walks past the same after ending up in a different timeline aka 1982.
Salvation Army Headquarters
Another stop on 14th Street, Salvation Army Headquarters was designed by Ralph Walker. The Salvation Army’s global mission aims to meet human needs wherever and however they can.
It is within this building that Nadia gets into the iconic elevator. From going to the basement in hopes of averting death to meeting Alan in the elevator the next morning, the location is a pretty distinct feature in the second season of the show.
Le Monde Brassiere
Located on 2885 Broadway, close to Columbia University, Le Monde is a fancy wine and dine from France’s Loire Valley that has a patio-style seating in Upper Manhattan. Known for its lavish Loire wines and eclectic menu, namely coq au vin, caramelized onion tarts etc., the restaurant is popular among Manhattanites.
This is the infamous location where Nadia had to meet Luce, John’s daughter. However, every time she attempts to do this, some unprecedented event disrupts her plans.