Netflix’s “Living With Yourself” Offers a Charming New Sci-fi Story

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Netflix’s “Living With Yourself” Offers a Charming New Sci-fi Story

Aedan Henry, Staff Writer

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Netflix’s new comedy-drama show starring Paul Rudd, “Living With Yourself,” debuted on October 18 and has a very unique premise. Rudd plays Miles, a depressed suburban man who feels stuck in his mundane married life. When his career enters a downturn, he goes to a special new spa that promises to bring back happiness through DNA rejuvenation. But when he wakes up from the treatment, he is in a shallow grave in the woods. It turns out that the spa actually clones happier and more confident versions of its customers and then kills the original. When he escapes and returns home, a newer, better clone of Miles (also played by Rudd, with a masterful use of CGI) had taken over his life. Both New Miles and Old Miles must live together and figure out which one of them deserves to live their best life.

Written by “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” producer Timothy Greenberg, “Living with Yourself” provides a clever and charmingly funny take on the mundanity of middle aged life. As Old Miles must now work harder and smarter to keep his marriage and his career afloat, he rediscovers what he loves and values, and the confidence that he needs to keep them. Meanwhile, New Miles has to face doubts about what it means to be human and how to deal with the struggles of marriage.

As with many bingeable Netflix dramas, “Living With Yourself” slightly drags in the middle, but it is greatly aided by snappy editing, clever cliffhangers, and the constant use of flashbacks and multiple perspectives. Each episode shifts point of view between the two Miles, and sometimes to his wife (played by Aisling Bea). The perspective shifts show events of previous episodes from different points of view, but still always moves the plot forward without rehashing old scenes. It is a narrative trick that does wonders for the pacing and character development. The wife is a prime example of this, who seems two-dimensional at first until we get her perspective and backstory in episode five. And, by the end of the show, the wife is the best developed and most interesting character.

The main draw of the show is Rudd himself, everyone’s favorite charming and ageless comedy actor. We do not just get him in one role here, but two, and he nails them both. One is the careless disorderly Rudd character of his early days in Judd Apatow comedies, with messy hair and a depressed attitude. The other is a well-put-together, confident Rudd, sporting fashionable blazers and a slick haircut that brings to mind his post-Ant-Man stardom. The contrast of the roles, combined with Rudd’s charisma and surprising range, brings the story to life. I cannot imagine anyone else pulling off the roles like he does.

While other cloning shows would resort to an evil clone plotline, “Living With Yourself” instead uses the sci-fi trope to analyze what it means to be middle-aged: when it feels like your current mundane family life is a totally different person than your fun and confident past. It is an occasionally profound look at the low points of life, and how they can be just as valuable as the high points.