The creator and star of the Emmy-winning Netflix comedy shared how the acclaimed British psychedelic rock band helped shape Season 2.
It’s no secret that music plays a very important role in the Netflix comedy “Russian Doll.” IndieWire even chatted with the show’s music supervisor Brienne Rose and composer Joe Wong recently about how tunes like Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” and “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus played significant roles in Season 2’s winsome timewarp adventure.
However, creator and star Natasha Lyonne considers the recent run of episodes to be defined by one band in particular. “I think this is the Pink Floyd season,” said the star, appearing via Zoom like co-star Chloe Sevigny at the show’s FYC event on Saturday in Los Angeles. Rose, who was there in person alongside moderator Maya Rudolph, executive producer Amy Poehler, costume designer Jennifer Rogien, and actors Charlie Barnett, Greta Lee, Annie Murphy, and Carolyn Michelle Smith, talked about how including two songs from the eminent British psychedelic rock group was one of their biggest wins this season. “I think they’re extraordinarily particular about the projects that they want to align with, and we were very, very thrilled to be able to get that,” said the music supervisor.
Lyonne explained that even before the writers room assembled for Season 2, she had randomly listened to “If” from the band’s 1970 album “Atom Heart Mother,” and it gave her ideas of what direction she wanted the series to go in. “The show loves lineage, and it loves the idea of ‘I’m a strange loop.’ It loves the idea of circling back on something. And so there was something very specific about Pink Floyd that felt like, ‘Well, let’s go. This is the Pink Floyd season. It’s going to be dense and complex. And it’s going to have a ton of heart, and it’s going to try to tell you a little bit about what it feels like to be a person in a really big operatic way,” said the writer and actress, who was nominated for three Emmys for Season 1. “And also in a very small [way], all kinds of easter eggs, you know.”
Lyonne added that while “The Thin Ice,” a track from Pink Floyd’s iconic project “The Wall,” which is used in a scene from episode 5 of “Russian Doll” Season 2 where Nadia (Lyonne) is walking through different train cars into different time periods, felt like a given, she did not expect to use a Pink Floyd cut again in the finale sequence. “We thought it was gonna be Laurie Anderson, ‘Oh, Superman,’” said Lyonne of what song she thought would play while Nadia rushes back through a present-day Manhattan to gather with her chosen family again. “But strangely it just, even when we put Laurie Anderson there, it was not the way it felt in the writers room conceiving of it.”
Her and Rose had replaced the Anderson song with ones from Curtis Mayfield, and even Harry Nilsson, the artist most famously highlighted in Season 1. “There were all these different ideas circulating, ‘Oh, we should go back to the band Love for the end,’ and it just, the show wanted its Pink Floyd back,” said Lyonne. In the end, “Demand was like ‘No, we’re gonna “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,”’” and “Russian Doll” Season 2 came to a close with the epic track from the 1975 Pink Floyd album “Wish You Were Here.”
“Russian Doll” Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix.