Science Fiction Film & Television

Party animals

Nonhuman sociality in Netflix’s Russian Doll

Science Fiction Film & Television (2021), 14, (1), 21–43.

Abstract

This article examines the Netflix series Russian Doll (2019) to consider the narrative and ideological positioning of its nonhuman characters. The series formulates a sort of game whose successful completion requires the protagonists to resist their solipsistic instincts and embrace intersubjectivity and interdependence. Appearances by Russian Doll’s nonhuman characters are fleeting; however, they serve an important function, both as symbols for the protagonists’ development as social beings, and as obstacles that the protagonists must overcome in over to fully actualise as such. In so doing, the series prioritises inter-personal relationships by reinforcing anthropocentric narrative conventions. With its resolution, however, the show promotes a form of compassion that is not contingent on the promise of reciprocity, thereby presenting a model that can be extended to conceptualising a more ethical human-nonhuman sociality.

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Author details

Boyce, Margaret