Watched Russian Doll recently and it was enjoyable but really made me wonder about the title. Like what does the show have to do with Russian dolls? Even the poster used it:

  • I don't think it's a spoiler but just in case I'll mark it as one (apparently I don't now how to do that for comments, so stop reading now if you're avoiding spoilers): >! In one of the loops, she finds a matryoshkas in with her childhood toys. Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 21:45

2 Answers 2


The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Natasha Lyonne in January 2019 and explains:

Poehler came up with the title as a literal idea of what the protagonist would represent. In those early days of brainstorming Russian Doll, Nadia was conceived as someone who "has an external presentation that we all put out into the world and, once you take the deep dive, has this whole other person working in there," Lyonne explains. "The idea that we had come up with was choose your own adventure style, where you could make a choice to try every person out at a party, but who would still be stuck with themselves at the end. And that’s the person you were really going to have to look at."

(Amy Poehler co-created the TV-series.)

A Russian (or Matryoshka) doll according to wikipedia:

A set of matryoshkas consists of a wooden figure, which separates, top from bottom, to reveal a smaller figure of the same sort inside, which has, in turn, another figure inside of it, and so on.

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    Your answer is eluding the blatant pitch: The series follows a woman who repeatedly dies and relives the same night in an ongoing loop.
    – Cœur
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 17:39
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    @Cœur but that's not the Russian doll part. Where are the layers there? It's the emotional and interpersonal layers breaking down on each "respawn" that is more important Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 18:36
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    I believe, at one point in the show, another character actually says "She's still inside you", referring to the main character's mother. That's seems to me, to be a direct call back to the title. Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 13:10

It's a double (triple?) entendre.

First, the character is of Russian heritage. And in particular, a Russian Jew.

This also summons up Winston Churchill's famous line,

I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma...

Which may aim to evoke the Russian Matryoshka doll.

It's even more complicated for Russian Jews. That is relevant because of the very heavy Jewish topicality and symbolism in the show, that the character is Russian, and that the actress, Natasha Lyonne, has deep Jewish heritage.

Then there is the direct symbolism of the Russian Matryoshka doll, as that pertains to the constant deaths and rebirths. And particularly, as the character slowly by trial and error, uncovers the layers of her personality, ego, and the way she presents herself to the world.

The character also does her makeup in near comical extremes, in a "dollish" sort of way.

  • Where does she do her makeup in a comical way? I recently saw the series, and never i think did her makeup stand out or was attention drawn to it.
    – Joachim
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 13:54
  • @Joachim It's more that she's 'over the top' character. She's uniquely a charter that seems to have no qualms about physically standing out, she's not physically or verbally a modest character, but yet clearly she's over compensating for her hidden humanity. I think her make-up and hair argumentively goes along with that. But to the Answer, she begins her journey that's about her mother and ex's daughter by wanting to learn the Heritage of Jewish building her friend, whose throwing the party, lives in. She in that moment denies her "Jewish" heritage by not being a practicing Jew... Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 15:29
  • This seems to go with and/or be the subtext about her mother's problems. There's potential for a second season, but I don't know if we really got underneath her problems with her mother, or if we just blew the lid off so to speak? I don't know if the second season would delve deeper here or introduce something newer, but it's possible it's just the beginning! Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 15:29
  • I think that's looking too hard for meaning that's not there. Nadia indeed comes across as an individualistic character. And, yes, her sarcasm, cynicism and self-destructive nature indicate a lack of self-value, but nowhere does she seem to want to compensate outwardly for her apparent apathy - I think it is only insinuated that her behaviour is directly linked to her (unwittingly) abusive mother - she in fact seems to care remarkably little about the way people perceive her.
    – Joachim
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 15:57

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