TV Review

REVIEW: Living With Yourself (Season 1)

Living with Yourself is the latest eight-part series to hit Netflix. The big selling point to this, over other Netflix comedies is it stars Paul Rudd alongside Paul Rudd, because who doesn’t need two Paul Rudds (Ruddses?) in their life.

Rudd plays Miles Elliott, a middle-aged man who has fallen out of love with his life. His job is grinding him down, he and his wife Kate (played by the fantastic Aisling Bea) are starting fertility treatment which he doesn’t seem at all invested in and he can’t even change a light bulb without something going wrong. His life is well and truly stuck in a suburban rut.

A high-flying colleague soon approaches him recommending an exclusive, referral-only, treatment at Top Happy Spa, which ensures you become the very best person you can be. What he doesn’t expect however is that he will find himself being replaced by that very best person.
“What would you do if you were you?” utters Miles to himself, neatly providing the central premise to this high concept comedy. With two yous, what would you do? Would one of you travel the world? Would you rob a bank? Would you have a series of affairs? Would you just mess with people’s minds?

Living with Yourself does not take the straightforward path in its narrative but in its short run time barely scratches the surface of some of the bigger existential questions the concept could have thrown up. However, it is clear this is not intended as a standalone season as the final episode cliffhanger chimes out.

It is worth noting it also features one of the key tropes of current popular culture, an unexpected dance routine, which is very entertaining.

While the Paul Rudds take centre-stage with some amazing technical wizardry, you rarely find yourself taken out of the narrative to marvel at just how they managed to pull off such a neat trick. Rudd himself carried both roles really well, with a clear change between the two Miles which goes much deeper than just the change of hair and clothes. It is sometimes a struggle to see charismatic Rudd as the depressed schlubb original Miles is supposed to be, but he just about pulls it off.

Aisling Bea thankfully isn’t sidelined to just being Rudd’s wife but also gets her own narrative, which adds a different dimension to the journey. Her note-perfect comedy timing brings some of the bigger laughs, while she also carries the more dramatic elements brilliantly.

At times Living With Yourself feels more like something Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry should have made, with its off-kilter narrative and unusual (note I avoided saying ‘quirky’) directorial decisions. However, it still feels enough like a mainstream sitcom that it should breeze its way to further seasons.

Of note is also the excellent music provided by Anna Meredith (who also provided the soundtrack to Eighth Grade) which elevates Living with Yourself to feel more cinematic than the short episodes suggest.

Overall it’s a fun viewing experience which is very easy to binge in one sitting, so keep an eye out for season two.

Rating: ★★★★

Created by: Timothy Greenberg
Cast: Paul Rudd, Aisling Bea, Alia Shawkat, Desmin Borges, Karen Pittman

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