Netflix’s Russian Doll Portrays the Complexity of Trauma Recovery

Netflix has persistently produced shows that tackle today’s mental health issues. Black Mirror portrays the dangers of social media addiction; Maniac reveals the importance of therapy as opposed to ‘alternative’ recovery methods. Now the platform has a new victory to add to its list – an eight episode mini-series called Russian Doll.

SPOILER ALERT: This article contains information about the ending of the show and other elements of the plot.

What You Think the Show Is about

Based on the trailer and the first few episodes, the show appears to be a modern Groundhog Day. Nadia, the show’s protagonist, dies on her 36th birthday, only to wake up and try it all over again. She eventually meets a character named Alan who is also stuck in a perpetual time loop. The two work together to find a solution for their repetitive lives.

What Russian Doll Is Actually about

Mid-way through the series, it becomes apparent that there is more going on than just a woman repeating her day. With every loop, more characters die off. Fruit begins to rot, flowers begin to wilt, and fish disappear altogether.

We soon get a flashback of Nadia’s childhood with her mother, who was not mentally stable and erratic in her behaviors. We see the trauma that her mother’s lifestyle and eventual death put Nadia through, and we see Nadia doing all she can to ignore these memories and their consequences.

In order to end her loop and get back to her life, Nadia must bring closure to her trauma. She must find a way to forgive her mother and herself for elements of her past, and she must acknowledge the turmoil she’s experienced.

Trauma Recovery: A Multi-Layer Process

Russian Doll is appropriately named. Much like a Russian nesting doll, Nadia must uncover layer after layer of protection that she has put around her heart. This is when she is finally able to get to the root cause of the issue and find a solution for it.

What started as a comedic show about a woman trapped in a time loop turned into an accurate portrayal of the complexity of trauma recovery. People spend years burying their traumas and pushing away emotions from the past to create a safeguard around their heart. For some, this is a matter of survival. For others, they simply don’t want to relive their experiences. When Nadia is fully confronted with her past, she dies several times in rapid success because she cannot face the memory of her past. However, with the help of Alan and other members of her support system, she is able to bring closure to her traumas and move forward with a newfound lease on life.

When you take away the funny one-liners and elaborate set designs of the show, you find a wonderful representation of the importance of mental healthcare. The fruit that rotted with every loop is still ripe and beautiful inside. No matter how much someone, or in this case something, goes through, there is hope. There is always hope.

Urban Balance provides confidential trauma recovery, grief counseling, depression treatment and anxiety treatment. We have multiple therapist offices, all with specialists on staff to assist you. To schedule a complimentary consultation with a therapist, contact us at (888) 726-7170.

On July 30th, our current electronic health system will transition to a new and advanced system to better serve you: Athena. Prior to the transition date, you will be sent a registration link to create a new patient account in Athena. If you have any immediate questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your therapist, or call our office to speak to a staff member.