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Russian doll season 2 and the art of accepting trauma

The first season of Russian doll was the one who twisted the “Groundhog Day” format into something infinitely more morbid, humorous and meaningful. After enduring death after death, our main protagonists — Nadia (Natacha Lyonne) and Alan (Charlie Barnett) – have strongly separated paths but intrinsically linked destinies. Overall, the season ended with breaking the cycle by presenting a message of mental health awareness and caring for our peers, while maintaining the charm of making the most unlikely friends in progress. of road.

Coming to the recently released series’ second season, these themes of fate and friendship continue, as we see Nadia and Alan have retained their unusual but deep bond, which was shaped by their previous experiences with time loops. However, speaking of time, this season of Russian doll takes us on a pretty literal trip down memory lane, via train 6622, to be precise. This fixation on past times is a way to explore generational traumas and the hereditary notions and implications that these traumas and mental health issues may have. The show, despite this quirky format change, remains true to its explorations of mental health, mental illness, and the larger questions of what makes us the people we are.


Initially, we see Nadia and Alan attempting to change the past, in order to alter the future for the better. However, we can also indulge in the idea – again, literally – of walking in someone else’s shoes. Nadia and Alan assume the bodies of their loved ones: Nadia assumes her mother, and later her grandmother, Alan only assuming her own grandmother. Of course, there is the question: why the inconsistency? Why does Alan only assume one family member? However, it is important to note that all identities/bodies assumed by our main characters are dead. (Alan’s mother is still alive in the current timeline.) The dead cannot share their struggles or stories; thus, the protagonists have the opportunity not only to recognize the tribulations of their deceased loved ones, but to experience them firsthand.

RELATED: ‘Russian Doll’ Season 2 Review: Natasha Lyonne Travels Back in Time in a Chaotic, Emotionally Satisfying Return

For example, the chilling scene in which Nadia (assuming the heavily pregnant body of her mother Lenora) is held in a psychiatric unit and discovers that she is, in fact, hallucinating. The producers are smart to involve the audience in this reveal as well, because what Nadia sees is easily expected to be the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We see a tearful Nadia pleading with the skeptical doctor in front of her, capturing the feeling of helplessness her own mother must have felt. Plus, the scene with the bugs is straight out of a horror movie. All of this allows Nadia—and the audience—to appreciate Lenora’s character from a novel, more sympathetic perspective. Nadia even asks: “Was it like that for you, mum?” This contrasts with the way Nadia – and therefore the viewer – comes to see her mother in the first season. After learning about a turbulent childhood and losing her mother at a young age, we see a woman who is, at this point, selfish and unstable. Of course, this isn’t to downplay Nadia’s trauma — it’s all absolutely valid. However, we come to understand Lenora’s battle with schizophrenia and her tumultuous relationship with her own mother, Nadia’s grandmother.

Despite all this, and despite all the effort, Nadia and Alan realize that there is absolutely nothing they can do to change the events and consequences of the past. The only thing they can do is accept. Alan comes to realize much the same thing, deprived of the fact that he and his grandmother will never know what happened to his East German love. However, as his grandmother tells him, there is no point in brooding over the “untraveled path”, because we can never know any outcome other than the one that has happened. As for Nadia, when an apparition of her mother asks her: “If you could remake your mother, would you choose me?” It is a balanced and poignant question. However, it turns out to be useless and immaterial to answer it. We can never choose our mother, we can’t choose how and when we are born, we can’t choose our struggles or our traumas – they just happen to us. Nadia acknowledges this, realizing and reasoning that it was never a “choice”; it was just the result which would always be.

Globally, Russian dollThe second season of is a reminder of how being stuck in the past can affect our happiness in the present. The more time we spend ruminating on what cannot be undone, the more life passes us by. However, this does not mean that the past is unimportant. Nadia and Alan didn’t and couldn’t change anything about their past parents, their situation or their destiny, but that was never the point. The point was the experience itself: when our protagonists, and we, the audience, come to to understand trauma, try to modify it instead. Nadia, in particular, comes to understand her grandmother’s struggles, her mother’s struggles, and how that affected her own struggles.

Like grief, Nadia’s traumatic experience follows a process. She denies that anything fruitful will come out of her experience in place of her mother, but she becomes irritated and embittered by the way her mother was treated and the severe mental trauma she suffered, followed by Nadia “dealing” or trying to change the past, and despair or “depression” when that doesn’t happen. However, the last crucial step has been taken and can allow him to move forward and try to find peace: acceptance. Russian doll tells us the difficulty and importance of dealing with our trauma, and how each has their own struggles and reasonings. It also shows us how trauma can be passed on from generation to generation, deeper and deeper – like a Russian doll! Finally, he is careful to also remind us that we never need to face our past and our demons alone.

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