The second season of Russian Doll on Netflix is back after a three-year hiatus. The series is produced by and stars Natasha Lyonne and we simply loved the first season, which was nominated for 13 Emmy awards. There are many things to love about Russian Doll: The first season was set and filmed almost entirely in the East Village and Lower East Side (as is the second season, although part of it was also filmed abroad). 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 intelligently.
The new season explores an analogous question about going back and forth in time. In the first season, we were laughing literally out loud and impressed by how well the show’s writers have captured New York City and its quirky denizens. Plus, you have to respect a show that manages to weave in the main storyline about bodega cats. The second season is equally committed to showing New York City as it really is.
Russian Doll also stars Chloë Sevigny as Lyonne’s mom, Greta Lee from High Maintenance, Dasha Polanco from When They See Us and Orange is the New Black (in season one), Charlie Barnett, and more. The premise of the first season: 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 and 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 not only because of the 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.
In the second season, Nadia enters a subway train and is immediately transported back to 1982. So without further ado, here are some of the really unique film locations featured in Russian Doll:
1. Astor Place Subway
In both seasons of Russian Doll, there are core locations where the strangest things happen. In the first season, it was St. Nicholas Carpatho Church and also a bodega on Avenue A. In the second season, it’s the 6 train station. After walking over from Alphabet City and passing by Cooper Union, Nadia enters the Astor Place subway under the vintage-looking canopied glass and cast-iron entrance (a reproduction of an IRT subway entrance that was installed here during the 1986 station renovation).
She takes the 6 train up to 77th Street. She’s going to visit Ruth (also a character in season one) up at Lenox Hill Hospital after Ruth has an accident. In the subway, you’ll see some familiar ads, like one for Dr. Zizmor and Casper mattresses.
2. 77th Street Subway Station
Things start to get funny when Nadia re-enters the subway station at 77th Street. Suddenly the ads are different and people are smoking in the subway, dressed in early ’80s-style grunge. Nadia comments on the ad for the musical Cats, which premiered in October 1982 and the movie Sophie’s Choice starring Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline, which came out in 1982.
“All right what is this? Some kind of like, uh, ’80s flash mob?” Finally, Nadia opens up the Village Voice (which has an advertisement for Tab soda in the back), and the scene cuts to the rest of the details on the subway, including a sign on “5 ways to get mugged.”
Eagle eye New Yorkers will recognize that the 77th Street station shown in the show is not the real one, but rather the Church Avenue station in Brooklyn. Signage has been added to make it seem like 77th Street. This is because there are only a few stations that the MTA usually allows for film shoots — Church Avenue, frequently used on shows like Mr. Robot, and the Bowery station’s abandoned level, which then appears in the show as a stand-in for the platforms at Astor Place in Russian Doll. After Nadia exits the subway, she runs into someone from the Guardian Angels wearing the signature red beret, most recently seen in the public sphere atop New York City mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa.
3. St. Nicholas Carpatho Church
In season two, we return to St. Nicholas Carpatho Church at 288 E 10th Street, where much of the action in season one took place. The brick building is at the corner of Tompkins Square Park, at the intersection of 8th Street and Avenue B., and is where Nadia’s friend Maxine lives.
The church is still in operation, and the interior is 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 scriptwriters 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 storyline.
4. Horseshoe Bar
After ending up in 1982, Nadia ends up back at bar 7B, on the corner of 7th Street and Avenue B, more commonly known as the Horseshoe Bar or Vazacs. This is where she discovers, in season 2, that she is somehow with someone named Chez in this alternative time universe.
In season one, the interior of bar 7B appears in several episodes, a location in several time loops in the show. The first time we see the bar in season one is the second loop, in which Nadia meets Mike (again) but weirds him out by the things she knows about him already. She ditches him and runs into her ex-boyfriend John Reyes, who offers to help her find her cat. They walk past Anwar Deli, which is next to 7B. In this loop, John saves Nadia from being hit by the cab when she sees her cat. We come back inside 7B in several later episodes. The bar has appeared in shows like Jessica Jones, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and more.
5. Tompkins Square Park
Tompkins Square Park returns as a location in season two, first seen after Nadia chases after Chez when he runs out of his apartment. In season one, she walks through Tompkins Square Park and finds her cat Oatmeal. Other scenes take place here as Nadia comes to know Horse, the homeless man who makes the park his home.
Tompkins Square Park stretches from 7th to 10th streets from Avenue A to B and has played a central role in New York City’s pop culture past, inspiring figures like Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, as the site of riots, and a vestige of the city’s grittier past. The show returns several times in season one, filming inside the park and just on the edges of the park.
6. Anwar Grocery
The bodega at 94 Avenue B is a pivotal location for Russian Doll season one. Like the birthday party, Nadia keeps coming back here. In the first scenario, she leaves the party with Mike, who she just met. They go to this bodega, filmed at Sunny & Annie’s Deli at 94 Avenue B, where he gets lambskin condoms, she gets Red Bull, cigarettes, and some cat food. Farran, who works at the bodega, brings in a very drunk Alan (played by Charlie Barnett), who we see for the first time. Nadia asks if Farran has seen her cat Oatmeal, who does a typical loop between her apartment, the park, and the deli.
After Nadia and Mike hook up, she orders him an Uber and gets to work as a video game coder. She runs out of cigarettes, heads back to the bodega, spots Oatmeal across the street, and gets hit by a cab. End scenario one. The deli has particular meaning to Nadia, as we see in a flashback scene with her mother played by Chloe Sevigny.
Nadia, although she is not entirely herself as you will see when you watch the show, is accompanied by her friend to return the Alfa Romeo car she bought from a dealership shown to be located in Soho.
8. New York Public Library
In season two, Nadia goes researching at the New York Public Library. This scene is actually filmed in the General Society for Mechanics and Tradesmen, a gorgeous library hidden in Midtown that also has a large collection of locks.
Things get a little tricky for Nadia since it’s 1982 and she has to go through the card catalogs. One of the librarians promises to get back to her after doing research on her question.
9. East River Park
With Oatmeal in tow, Nadia makes it to the East River Park esplanade, with the backdrop of the Williamsburg Bridge. All is well it seems in this loop until a freak accident happens. The loop begins again. Alan comes to this same exact spot in a later episode, and something happens to him too.
10. Chelsea Office Building
Nadia’s office is at 544 W. 27th Street, in a handsome brick building in Chelsea. She sits in a meeting full of hipster-looking coder guys, who use classic startup lingo like “killed it.” She’s told there is a bug in her code, fixes it, and gets a call from her drug dealer, from whom she wants to know if there’s more to the joints she smoked. She announces that her drug dealer has called and leaves.
She goes back to 7B, where she’s told by her drug dealer that there’s a secret backroom to the bar, accessible with a password. She gets a call back from John, they start arguing, and she falls into an open cellar door on the ground. The loop begins again.
11. Tiffereth Israel Town & Village Synagogue
Maxine points Nadia to the organization that used to own the apartment she lives in, in order to try to find some answers about the weird things going down. Nadia goes to the actual Tiffereth Israel Town & Village Synagogue on 14th Street, where she is told the rabbi doesn’t have time for her. Nadia tries to explain that she doesn’t have time and asks John to pretend to be her husband, so he can speak to the rabbi. Buildings aren’t haunted, people are, the rabbi says.
Tiffereth Israel Town & Village Synagogue reappears in season two, when Nadia walks by it after she ends up in 1982.
12. Salvation Army Headquarters
Nadia heads to the Salvation Army Headquarters on 14th Street. Landmarked in 2017, the building is designed by Ralph Walker, who is the architect behind One Wall Street, the New York Telephone Building at 100 Barclay, and the Stella Tower. Nadia goes to the basement, hoping to avert death, and sees Horse in the homeless shelter. The next morning, she tries to get out of the elevator when Alan enters. Something happens in this elevator…
13. Le Monde Brasserie
Nadia is meant to go meet John’s daughter Luce at Le Monde Brasserie, but things go awry each time this part of the story happens. Le Monde is located at 2885 Broadway near Columbia University.
Other places where the show is filmed include the 2nd Avenue subway station on the Lower East Side and the final scene under a bridge takes place under Riverside Drive. See by watching Russian Doll!
Next, check out more NYC Filming Locations for your favorite shows!