Paul Rudd and Aisling Bea are probably two of the most likeable actors out there at the moment. The fact that we can claim Bea as one of our own is one of many reasons to watch this latest Netflix comedy 'Living with Yourself'. She also refreshingly holds onto her accent for this role. Important, if only to show Americans we aren't all squealing 'Top of the Morning' while necking Guinness (that's only every second Tuesday) or breaking into jigs at every available opportunity (first Saturday of the month).
Bea is having quite the moment having written and starred in her own critically acclaimed Channel 4 show 'This Way Up' this year (which streamed on Hulu in the US) and now co-starring alongside Hollywood darling Paul Rudd. (Our Brian Lloyd gave him the most awkward hug once which you should treat yourself to watching after reading this review.)
'Living with Yourself' gives you two Paul Rudd's for the price of one. He plays Miles, a man who has become fed up with life and struggles to care about his corporate job or notice his increasingly rocky marriage. He's in a rut he can't dig himself out of so decides to try out a co-workers recommendation of a novel spa treatment that promises to make him a better person. They follow through with their promise to be fair, but this better person is actually a whole new one - a clone of Miles.
The clone trope is nothing new but it's been a while since we've seen all the fun that can be had with it in a comedy. 'Living with Yourself' provides some great laughs with hijinks and slapstick galore. Watching the Miles' turn against each and the love triangle that ensues between them and wife Kate is all very entertaining but its very concept allows this show to go further into making a deeper point about life and what defines us.
We meet Miles at a time where he has lost all motivation and belief in himself. While new and improved Miles is chomping at the bit for life, appreciative of all he has and looking like he could deliver a rising motivational speech at any moment.
The real heart of the show is Miles' relationship with wife Kate (Bea). Initially, it seems to be Miles' story and looks like Kate is reduced to the long-suffering wife, however this thankfully isn't the case. We eventually get to see things from Kate's perspective and through her eyes realise that once upon a time old Miles wasn't that far away from new Miles.
In fact, each episode shifts in perspective, letting us see the story from various points of view. This at times works well but at other points completely takes away from the momentum of the story.
'Living with Yourself' has the kind of premise that could become much more gloomy and grim in a 'Black Mirror' episode but creator and writer Timothy Greenberg and 'Little Miss Sunshine' directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris ensures the tone remains light despite the existential angst.
At just eight episodes you will fly through it and have no regrets in doing so, despite the narrative becoming a little thin near the end. The always watchable and intensely likeable Paul Rudd really does give it his all in this role and is reason alone to watch. Despite Bea getting her own episode, we still would have liked to have had more of her, along with 'Arrested Development' Alia Shawkat who pops up from time to time as Miles' half-sister.
'Living with Yourself' makes the point that the "best version" of yourself isn't necessarily the best version. Our lived experience and the adversity we face are just as much a part of who we are as the goals we set out for ourselves. It doesn't linger too long in this depth however, and something like Netflix's 'Russian Doll' earlier in the year packed much more of an emotional punch in its landing. Still, Paul Rudd and Aisling Bea are an absolute delight together and it's charming, funny and utterly bonkers enough at times to make it worth your time.