“Are you actually jealous of yourself?”
This question that Kate Elliot (Aisling Bea) asks her husband Miles Elliot (Paul Rudd) concisely sums up the premise of Netflix’s new sci-fi dramedy Living With Yourself.
Miles is a typical depressed and stressed middle-aged man, grappling with a job he feels no passion for and problems in his marriage. When he sees a coworker with a sudden renewed vigor for life, Miles asks his secret and is directed to a secretive spa in the local strip mall that makes people “a better version of themselves.”
As it turns out, the spa accomplishes this by producing a clone of the patient with only their best attributes – and killing the original. The only problem is, Miles doesn’t die, leaving him to grapple with a new better version of himself.
As expected, Rudd is hilarious in the role, but the comedy is played more subtly throughout the series alongside much deeper themes.
Creator Timothy Greenberg sets up a visual cue to distinguish the two Mileses – let’s call them Miles Prime and Clone Miles – giving Miles Prime a messy frock of hair and glasses while Clone Miles sports a well-kept coiffure and no glasses.
This is nothing new, this technique is often used to help viewers distinguish between flashbacks and current events with characters. But here, the distinction later pays off as we open one episode on Miles Prime looking more like Clone Miles before realizing that this is a flashback to a time when Miles Prime was in a better place.
This isn’t a deep theme in the background of a slapstick comedy – it is front and center. What if a “perfect” version of yourself existed? Would it replace you? What’s stopping you from becoming that perfect version of yourself? And what would perfection mean for the relationships all around you?
These are all questions the show explores throughout its runtime. And it’s set up perfectly for binging with just eight episodes at approximately 30 minutes each.
The show is certainly a vehicle for Rudd, who shines both in the comedic moments as well as the heavier moments, of which there are plenty. The sequences with both Mileses together are pulled off flawlessly, particularly the final scene, an impressive feat considering Rudd is acting both parts. Bea also does a terrific job playing off of Rudd and helping to carry some of the load. There’s also a perfect cameo by Tom Brady that pays off hilariously later in the series.
Overall, this series has heart and humor in spades, but where it really shines is the philosophical question it poses in causing us to wrestle with the concept of a better version of our own selves while Rudd acts it out on screen.