There is something inherently science-fiction about Paul Rudd himself, a man who is nearing 50 but would still get carded by any careful bartender in America, like he is part of some kind of dystopian, futuristic cabal that has discovered a way to conquer aging with a high-tech treatment made of endangered whale placenta and children's tears. Rudd's new sci-fi Netflix show, Living with Yourself, isn't about his inherent immortality, but it does play on another of the guy's strengths: Paul Rudd's endless, debilitating charm.
The series, which was created by former Daily Show producer Timothy Greenberg, follows Miles (Rudd), a slovenly ad guy who cashes out his savings to pay for an experimental spa treatment that promises to break him out of his rut. The next thing Miles knows, he has woken up naked in a shallow grave and there's a man in his house that looks just like him—except with a little more confidence and lot more hair product. It turns out that the spa replaced Miles with a clone and left the original Miles for dead, not knowing that their euthanasia process still had some kinks to work out. Now, there are two Rudds—er, two Mileses—and hijinks, naturally, ensues.
It isn't exactly a new premise. We've seen it in everything from the 90s rom-com Multiplicity to Calvin and Hobbes. But where the world didn't exactly need more Michael Keatons, Living with Yourself proves that things can only get better with more Rudd.
We're currently in the middle of a longform science-fiction renaissance, thanks to the rise of streaming services. Undone is fantastic, Dark is one of the most complex time travel plots ever put to film, and Maniac is the most brilliant, thoughtful, and criminally-overlooked series of the decade. Living with Yourself is another solid addition to the list, but its darkly comedic tone and dream-like quality shares more in common with the movies of Michel Gondry or the bubbly existentialism of The Good Place. The show isn't exactly breaking any new sci-fi ground, but between Rudd's pitch-perfect performances, which are easily two of the best of his career, and Greenberg's tight writing, Living with Yourself proves it's more than just Eternal Sunshine lite.
The season unfurls in a twisty narrative that gets stranger and better as it goes on, hitting its stride once the inciting incident gets out of the way, but over the course of its eight half-hour episodes, it never quite manages to deliver on the deeper, knottier question of the premise: What makes you you, anyway? And what does it take to truly change?
Do your memories define your personhood, or is it something deeper, more physical, more fundamental, that a clone with a copy of your brain can't duplicate? And, wait, speaking of, is the new Rudd clone ecstatic and amazed by the world due to some neurological tweak in the cloning process, or is he just overwhelmed by the splendor of life simply because it is new> And if so, will it fade like it fades for all adults in their march away from the innocence of childhood, and, and... ultimately, who cares? Look at the two Paul Rudds!
Why sweat that stuff when you can just kick back and enjoy the bumbling hijinks of two Rudds in a love triangle with their wife or whatever? Living with Yourself may not be Philip K. Dick-level sci-fi, or even the best science-fiction limited series Netflix has produced, but it's a compelling, hyper-bingeable series that will let you blow an entire weekend with a double helping of Paul Rudd. And what more do you want? Well, the answer is "even more Rudds," but we'll take what we can get.
The entire eight-episode season of Living with Yourself premieres on Netflix October 18.