Miles is a man struggling in life. When he undergoes a novel spa treatment that promises to make him a better person, he finds he’s been replaced by a new and improved version of himself. As he deals with the unintended consequences of his actions, Miles finds he must fight for his wife Kate, his career, and his very identity.
Format: 8 x 30 minute episodes
Cast: Paul Rudd, Aisling Bea, Desmond Borges, Zoe Chao, Karen Pittman, Alia Shawkat
Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Writer: Timothy Greenberg
The idea of clones and cloning is one with a number of ethical conundrums. Many films have explored the idea, from fun comedies like Multiplicity, to romantic dramas like Never Let Me Go. Spider-Man, Super-Man, Star Wars and Jurassic World have all had storylines involving the practice. Hell, even we here at the Explosion Network have discussed the topic before. So it shouldn’t be surprising to see a Netflix series explore the concept, even if it is not very interested in it.
Miles (Paul Rudd) is in a rut, in both his marriage and at work. He and his wife, Kate (Aisling Bea), are going through a rough patch and he is struggling with motivation at his advertising job. After a poor showing in a pitch meeting, his co-worker Dan (Desmin Borges) recommends a secret day spa that turned his life around. After paying the exorbitant fee, Miles is put to sleep with gas, only to wake up in a shallow grave. After running home in nothing but a nappy, Miles enters the house to find a cloned version of himself, a version that is meant to be better than him.
Living With Yourself is enjoyable but it never really goes anywhere interesting. While it does touch on ideas like our flaws being important parts of us and if our memories make us who we are, it never delves too far into those ideas or goes into the background of the spa, the repercussions of the cloning or what it means to be a clone. The new Miles very quickly accepts that he is a clone and seems to accept or believe that he is lesser than the original. Miles goes along with this and allows new Miles to do his job, to much success, while he tries to finish writing the play he’s been working on for years. It never really takes the cloning element very far, with writer Timothy Greenberg more interested in the relationship between the Mileses and Kate, which unfortunately takes several episodes to get to. The show’s best episodes come towards the end of the season because we’ve really gotten to know the three central characters and are finally invested.
Each episode is told from the perspective of one of the Miles and will regularly retell parts of previous episodes from another point of view. While it is fun to fill in the blanks, it constantly feels like two steps forward with one step back. While the show is being pitched as a comedy, the show is more amusing than laugh out loud funny.
Paul Rudd is quite good as both Miles and New Miles. It is always clear which one of the two is on screen at anytime, although a huge amount of credit must be given to the wardrobe and hair and makeup teams. Miles is kind of a mess, with messed up hair and crumpled clothes, while New Miles has awesome hair and freshly ironed shirts. As New Miles, Rudd’s charm is turned up to eleven which is kind of unsettling at times while Miles slowly becomes jealous, suspicious and paranoid which Rudd also does very well.
Miles’ wife Kate is kind of a non factor or a periphery character with an Irish accent, until episode 5, an episode told from Kate’s POV. It fleshes her out incredibly but it feels a little too late in the series to care about someone who we are told means so much to Miles.