Earlier this spring, we binged the series Russian Doll on Netflix, produced and starring Natasha Lyonne, and it was amazing. We thought we would do our typical filming locations treatment of the show, but at the time we were not sure if the show was going to have another season. Well, it is! And the first season has just been nominated for 13 Emmy awards.
There are many things to love about Russian Doll: It’s set and filmed almost entirely in the East Village and Lower East Side. It’s definitely a show that takes a concept many of us have thought about – what if we lived in multiple realities and died in some of them, and didn’t in others? But Russian Doll does it creatively and smartly. You’ll find yourselves surprised with every episode, laughing literally out loud and impressed by how well the show’s writers have captured New York City and its quirky denizens. Plus, have to respect a show that manages to weave in a main storyline about bodega cats.
Russian Doll also stars Chloë Sevigny as Lyonne’s mom in flashbacks, Greta Lee from High Maintenance, Dasha Polanco from When They See Us and Orange is the New Black, Charlie Barnett, and more. The premise: Repeatedly, we see Lyonne as Nadia, staring in the bathroom mirror at her 36th birthday party, hosted by Maxine (played by Lee). She turns off the water while there are repeated knocks on the door. The door itself is a trippy art piece made by Nadia and Maxine’s friend Lizzy. Maxine clicks a revolver which is actually the door handle, opens the door as the song “Gotta Get Up” by Harry Nilsson starts playing. She walks through the party saying hello to friends and ends at the kitchen island where Maxine says “Hey Birthday Baby!,” and offers her a joint she says is “laced with cocaine like the Israelis do it.” But strange things happen — and it has more to do than drugs — and this scene which repeats becomes more of a horror each time it takes place. A lot of other odd things happen, which may make you watch your step as you walk through the East Village. So without further ado, here are some of the really unique film locations featured in Russian Doll:
1. St. Nicholas Carpatho Church
Photo courtesy of Netflix
Much of the action takes place in a brick building at the corner of Tompkins Square Park, at the intersection of 8th Street and Avenue B. This building is the St. Nicholas Carpatho Church at 288 E 10th Street, which is still in operation. The interior appears to be a set. In the show, it is said to be a former yeshiva, which could be similar to a building on the other side of Tompkins Square Park at 295 E. 8th Street, the former East Side Hebrew Institute, a Jewish Day School founded in 1910 and located here from 1928 to 1974. The decline of the neighborhood in the 1970s necessitated a move to Gramercy Park to maintain enrollment. The building was converted into condos and offices, and kudos to the script writers for actually including dialogue that speaks to the history of the buildings in the area and making those true facts a key part of the story line.