Bisque doll

Natasha Lyonne on ‘Russian Doll’ Season 2, Time Travel and Metaverses

“I am deeply cracked from a combination of Talmud and LSD,” says Natasha Lyonne, shaking a cigarette in hand from the couch in her Los Angeles home, where she’s been chatting via Zoom for over an hour. She tries to explain the basics of her show Russian doll, a fucking metaphysical mind she writes, produces and stars in, the second season of which recently dropped on Netflix. Based on a character Lyonne had long imagined – essentially a party-loving version of herself named Nadia – the series explores the nature of life and death, kindness and regret. , memory, ghosts, family and New York City. she likes. It is both extremely personal and universal. And also, because it’s Lyonne, it’s fucking hilarious.

Without Lyonne’s vast array of experiences – an intense early education in a Jewish yeshiva, where she learned Torah and Talmud; times as an East Village junkie, seeing how much of that upbringing she could overlook – she probably wouldn’t have had the scope or interest to build such a complex, multi-plane universe. In fact, it was while in rehab that she became deeply interested in the metaphysical aspects of existence. “The thing that was hardest for me about getting clean is that you’re supposed to reorganize your relationship with earthly things, so that you’re not constantly like, ‘Oh, let me smoke dope’ “, she says. . “Where a lot of people find comfort in church, I started reading a lot of science books and finding comfort in them.” She devoured Bill Bryson A Brief History of Almost Everything and Thomas Pynchon Against the day. “It just made me come into the world differently and think about all the things I didn’t know, which felt very grounded to me.”

In Russian doll, Lyonne revisits these themes with the help of a room of highly skilled writers (“those fucking brilliant women, just fucking Ivy League geniuses”), creating a show that questions not only the world but also our place within it. If the first season relied heavily on cognitive scientist Douglas Hofstadter’s study I am a strange loop, the time travel that defines the new episodes comes from physicist Carlo Rovelli The order of time. “It’s really slamming this idea of ​​’What if the nature of time is not as we experience it?’ Lyonne explains. “It’s just fun as hell.”

With all of her accumulated expertise, we asked Lyonne to drop some knowledge on building the show’s world – and understand ours.

How time travel works (or doesn’t work)
It’s really just asking the question, “What is this thing that I would change?” What is this butterfly effect event that I am looking for? ” We [in the writers room] thought a lot, what would be the rules? Is this just a “kill Hitler” season? And it’s like, well, of course, we all want to kill Hitler. But assuming we could make this machine, would you actually be able to do things like this? Nadia isn’t really the center of the universe, she’s just another bozo on the bus. For her and [fellow time looper] Alan, it really feels like all you want them to be able to do is manage their own case in some way, or at least try and fail to manage their own cases, but come away with a deeper understanding of what it is to be alive on the other side, having passed through this epigenetic imprint that has been mapped to them in a way where they now see their own journey differently, so that ‘they can possibly be configured to enjoy the ride. It’s quite philosophical – therapeutic through quantum physics, high concept and the multiverse, time travel, death loops and all of those things.

Answering big questions
“How do we know we exist? I think the big question is ‘Does it matter if we don’t?’ This kind of talk to [the idea of us living in a] multiverse simulation as well, where, as a storyteller, I philosophically deviate from something that truly ends in magic. Because in a way, it doesn’t matter; it doesn’t matter if the concept of karma is not real. Doesn’t it seem like it would still be a life better lived to do to others [as they would do to you]? Isn’t it helpful to think that it’s better not to be fucking shit in your day-to-day business, and expect to have a good life and people who care about you? Probably wise to show up with some empathy in a life, even if the life is meaningless. Even if none of this is anything, we still have to go through it.

Basically, I guess the questions I always talk about to my friends, or in the books or movies I’m interested in, are: what is gambling? And do we have the game all wrong? And why does it make us suffer? And that’s, of course, because we live in this material world — I don’t mean financial; I mean, we are actually of this world. Whether we can see beyond or beyond or whatever it is doesn’t change the fact that we all have bills, relationships, parents, and we have these weird bodies that we carry around and stuff. So there’s no idea that it’ll get you through all those things in the day [you’re] So, I think it’s a show that wants to ask those big questions without going into total magic. Because if [the characters] staying in their lives, hopefully altered in a tangible way so they can actually do something with them, that’s not complete magic, you know?

More than a soup for the soul
I have 42 years old. I don’t know if exercise is really going to have much of an impact on my mood. I’m just big hair and sunglasses. It’s not [like] I run marathons or something, I do low level calisthenics. [But] not doing this for a good week makes my body wobbly. And if I just get up and do these stretches and a fucking little jog or whatever, I’m gonna get a better night’s sleep and wake up the next day and be like, “Guess whose pants fit?”

I think the state of the soul is no different. The less I process this thing, the more I say, “Do I even exist? . . . [If I’m like,] “Well damn, I don’t participate at all, damn everything they call life”, I still have to be alive and having an increasingly disconnected, discouraged and nihilistic experience. And I might feel really cool doing it – like, “Boy, is that a tough aesthetic” – but ultimately, in my experience, kinda sadder and [more] lonely for it. At my age, I don’t find this aesthetic as hip as it used to be.

“Probably wise to show up with some empathy in a life, even if the life is meaningless. Even though none of this is anything, we still have to go through it.

Proof there is a metaverse
Maybe I’m coming to all of this from a more spiritual level. In my experience, if I’m in a really dodgy mood, I walk out of the house, I’m in a hurry, and I go and hail a cab, and it’s raining, and there’s no cabs there; and now I’m walking in the middle of the street, turned upside down in traffic, just looking for taxis, and I get sprayed; and I pull out my phone, and I try to click on Uber, but the account just doesn’t work; I ordered the car, but it didn’t even come, and now I’m on my way to the metro; but there’s fucking duct tape there for some reason, that [entrance] is closed, [so I have to] walk three blocks here. Now I can walk the full distance just as well. I don’t know what happened, but it’s officially a shitty day. Another day, I walk outside. It’s all there, I am make the caterer laugh while I order my coffee. I leave the grocery store, boom, there’s a taxi. I actually get [to where I’m going] a bit early, and something funny happens outside the building just before I enter. I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s curious. It seems that at any moment there are multiple universes you can tap into and it will change the way your day goes.

String Theory Explained, Sort of
It’s possible that we just don’t see things correctly and that our whole sense of the history of the universe is incorrect. I think that [string theory] is really, essentially, opening up a possibility that the world as we know it isn’t so limited. From there, it’s about what we can do with all this information, what it’s going to mean for the future of existence as we know it. There are a lot of questions now about building quantum computers and stuff, which would be a measure of the payoff. I mean, I’m ultimately the wrong person to ask about these things. You better ask the scientists.

On where we go when we die
I’m a bouldering nerd or whatever, but I collaborate with people who can really understand these concepts in a more tangible way. You have to sit with an angel of death and play chess? Is it [like] Albert Brooks [in Defending Your Life] and you gonna look at your fucking mistakes? Do you have to meet your fucking parents in the afterlife? I’m really freaked out by a lot of these concepts, so I’m just curious to swim with them and see what the fuss is about.