Rudd is trending on Twitter specifically seems to be the result of a promotional appearance he made on the YouTube series Hot Ones, in which he eats some very, very spicy wings. As with other interviews he’s done, Rudd’s age-defying charm is put to good use—he’s just a funny, genial guy who seems like he’d be super fun to hang out with. That charm is also the key ingredient in Living with Yourself, which gives us twice the Rudd: He plays a fellow who accidentally clones himself after undergoing a mysterious and very expensive rejuvenating process. This is a good idea for a show! Paul Rudd is funny and fun to watch! Doubling the number of Rudds in your television program is a can’t-lose proposition!
Seeing Rudd play with himself—sorry for the dirty joke, but one of the Rudds does do a bit of that—is what makes Living with Yourself worth watching, to the extent that it is worth watching. The half-hour, eight-episode series, created by Daily Show alumnus Timothy Greenberg and directed by the team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine, Battle of the Sexes), is strongest at its outset: Miles (Rudd) finds himself in a rut at work and at home, and pays a visit to a bizarre spa in a deserted strip mall, on the recommendation of a much more successful co-worker. There are appealing science-fiction elements here—reminiscent of the Netflix show Maniac and the 2009 Paul Giamatti movie Cold Souls—along with fun, small shreds of suspense as Miles tries to figure out what exactly happened to him.
The Rudd vs. Rudd stuff is a kick: Original-recipe Miles is a depressed slob, underperforming at work and unable to rekindle the flame of romance with his wife, Kate (Aisling Bea, recently terrific in Hulu’s This Way Up). Miles’s new clone, however, has a sparkle in his eye and a spring in his step; when he steps in for Miles at the office, his—their—career kicks into high gear. And Kate finds this fresher, dewier Miles to be a happy reminder of the man she married. Needless to say, old Miles is irritated by his clone even as he takes full advantage of him.
Which leaves Living with Yourself in a somewhat precarious but not unprecedented position for a Netflix show. It’s an easy binge, and diverting enough, but instead of accelerating to a new level during its final stretches, it becomes dissolute and unfocused. The last episode of this run—and I’m certain there will be more—has a left-field plot development that is wacky fun on its own terms but doesn’t click at all with the rest of the arc. And striking the correct tonal balance between suburban-set sitcom and the pure existential terror of facing your own clone is something the show never quite pulls off.
It’d be easy to say that this is merely a two-hour movie stretched out to double-length as a Netflix series, and there are some loose ends, like Alia Shawkat criminally underused in a nothing role as Miles's sister. I will counter, however, by saying that the changes in POV with each episode are one of the better elements of the show. In the end, Living with Yourself is, like a lot of Netflix shows, a decent if not exactly life-transforming weekend watch, albeit one that’s slightly elevated by this proposition: Why settle for one Paul Rudd when you can have two?
Living with Yourself starts streaming Friday, October 18, on Netflix.