Netflix does television insanely well. Anyone who has asked me about Sex Education or The End of the F****** World knows I feel strongly about this. But don’t make the mistake of taking in these master-shows and putting blind faith in all Netflix series. Netflix does that itself: Shows like The Umbrella Academy, Dirk Gently, and now Living With Yourself are highly ambitious, making it glaringly obvious when they fall short of their potential.
Paul Rudd stars in this comedy-drama as Miles, a man with a pending mid-life crisis working in advertising, married to Kate (Aisling Bea). Feeling disillusioned with himself, Miles goes to a spa that claims it will change his life. He wakes up in a grave and finds himself replaced by a clone – his dream self – Miles 2.0. As an overdramatic Paul Rudd escaped from his grave, I was ready for the next 4 hours to fly by. They didn’t. A combination of several errors made me itch to change screens. Paul Rudd’s mediocre double-act made me wonder if I’ll be able to enjoy him in Clueless the next time I see it. Rudd acts alongside himself, which I understand can be hard, but if Lindsey Lohan could do it in The Parent Trap (2003), why can’t he? The scenes with both of his characters have obvious, awkward blocking mistakes and, when coupled with an abundance of cliches and painfully slow pacing, I constantly found myself cripplingly bored.
The idea is interesting enough, and very stereotypically Netflix. Imposter syndrome, anxiety, and self-loathing, coupled with ‘ultra-rapid reproductive cloning’ sound like the beginning of something super cool. The overall plot is decent and at times I was invested and excited, but then the show would repeat storylines from different perspectives, unnecessarily delaying the plot and lose me again.
The show is shot in a way that reflects the knowledge that it could be special. The wide variety of camera angles and strange focus choices are clearly in place to connect the audience with the mental state of both Mileses, but the choices remind me of a high school drama class who have just been introduced to physical theatre. The shots are more distracting than useful — and certainly aren’t artsy.
I don’t hate this show though! Yes, I was bored, yes I don’t like it when things are overly artsy for no reason, and yes, I am no longer sure if I like Paul Rudd. But the story was heartfelt, tapping into something very human and relatable. The show asks important questions about love, ethics, identity, humanity, and who gets to sleep with Aisling Bea. It invites real self-reflection. Living With Yourself isn’t a bad show, but if its execution were better, it would have been absolutely phenomenal.