As an adoptee in the series, “Charlie Barnett” has been able to use “Russian Doll” to process his family history.
It’s been three years since the Season 1 of the Netflix dramedy first brought out Barnett’s character, Alan, and series’ creator Natasha Lyonne‘s Nadia together in a falling elevator, which instantly kills them.
Season 1 seems to have been fixated on the concept of the present; Season 2, however, takes Nadia and Alan to the past, where they would find themselves inhabiting their ancestors’ bodies and witnessing the kind of family traumas that they could have only guessed about before.
“I had never got the chance to meet my birth mother,” Barnett said. “But I have met my birth grandmother. And I’ve never met my birth father. I have little puzzle pieces that I’ve been trying to put together for now. And, I admit, there might be a million holes inside of my soul because of it.”
Neither Alan’s mustache nor his father had made it into the script. Still, Barnett is said to have imagined that Alan relied less on his facial hair to affirm his masculinity as the season progresses, and he learns that to lean into his most innate power. And Alan’s gender expression is further pushed as he soon begins moving through the world as Agnes. However, Barnett thinks the storyline is bigger and more nuanced than the usual Alan questioning his identity.
Lyonne and other “Russian Doll” producers have provided Barnett with different books and articles to give him more context about the many groups of African immigrants who would have traveled to Berlin for her educational purposes, despite the pressures of the ongoing Cold War.