‘Living with Yourself’ stars Paul Rudd and … Paul Rudd?
In many ways, Netflix’s “Living with Yourself” is your standard sitcom — Miles Eliot (Paul Rudd, “Avengers: Endgame”) is in his late thirties, his marriage and career tread water as he faces the impending reality of middle age. The only difference is that while others attempt to learn how to play an instrument or buy a new car, Miles attempts to escape his familiar lifestyle by cloning himself. In all fairness, this was not his goal. Miles learns from his co-worker Dan (Desmin Borges, “You’re the Worst”) about an extremely exclusive spa that gives their clients a DNA detox in order to let them live life to their fullest potential. Desperate enough to pay the $50,000 fee, Miles lies down in the treatment chair and wakes up as a new man — one with a rejuvenated sense of life as he sticks his out of the car window like a dog, outshining Dan at the office, and cooking meals for his wife Kate (Aisling Bea, “This Way Up”). The only problem is that Original Miles wakes up in a body bag in a forest and isn’t too fond of this New Miles, who is literally a better version of himself, taking over his life.
Based on the first few episodes the show mostly alternates between the perspectives of the original Miles and his clone. At its worst, it can get repetitive and confusing. At its best, this show demonstrates Rudd’s ability as an actor to simultaneously play a worn-out pinhead and a charismatic maniac. Every episode thus far has ended in a cliffhanger. But the source of most of the drama comes from its (sort of confusing) narrative structure as the episodes begin by rewinding the cliffhanger sequence and playing it from the other Miles perspective.
In some ways, Timothy Greenberg’s “Living with Yourself” is like Michael Schur’s “The Good Place,” both utilizing fantastical premises to explore the potential for self improvement. Although “Living with Yourself” is less magical, it too uses absurdist humor to break up awkward situations. Contrasted with “The Good Place”, where there is an explanation for everything, Greenberg doesn’t seem too concerned in the science or rules surrounding the premise. This is problematic as there is minimal explanation for how Top Happy Spa operates — they create a clone with genetic improvement and transfer memories of the original client who is normally killed in the process. Additionally, the rules feel inconsistent: New Miles knows everything that Original Miles has learned but feels none of the frustration from Kate’s failed pregnancy. It’s extremely unclear as to why refreshing one’s DNA would rid Miles of past disappointments that led him to make the decision to become cloned to begin with.
“Living with Yourself” feels simultaneously original, yet tired. It combines standard sitcom tropes coupled with technological anxiety, grounded with the talented Paul Rudd. If you are a fan of Rudd, that is enough reason to watch. Aside from that, the eight-episode season makes it a minimal commitment.