The perfect simplicity of Living with Yourself

The Netflix series excels by exploring everyday life, with a twist

Living with Yourself gives viewers a fresh take on the ordinary.
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We see a new side to Paul Rudd in the new Netflix series Living with Yourself. Sure, the opening scene shows Rudd wearing nothing but a diaper, but that’s not what I’m getting at. 

Living with Yourself proves a fun and fresh watch while revealing truths about the human condition and our constant need to be successful and validated.

Created by Timothy Greenberg, Living with Yourself, starring Paul Rudd and Aisling Bea, delves into the concept of human potential and its correlation to success (and, subsequently, happiness).

Cue a weird, yet delightful, woodwind soundtrack and meet Miles Elliot (portrayed by Rudd), an ordinary married man working as a copywriter in the suburbs of New York. Emphasis on ordinary.

It doesn’t take long after meeting Miles to realize he severely lacks motivation in life. In his marriage, work life, and personal ambitions, Miles’ life shows no promise—and he yearns for more. He wants to rekindle the spark with his beautiful architect wife Kate (portrayed by Bea), get promoted at work, finish the play he’s working on, and win playwriting awards. 

Halfway through the first episode, we realize that Miles has a dull daily routine, which clearly stunts his motivation to pursue his dream life.

Despite having all that’s required to be considered a successful adult—a beautiful and intelligent wife, a large house, and money—Miles’ life falls short because he believes what he has isn’t good enough. 

An unsatisfied Miles decides to go to a spa based on a suggestion from a co-worker, who claims they’ve never felt better after a special $50,000 treatment. At this point, Miles is willing to do anything to be a better version of himself.

Post-spa treatment, the new Miles is wildly successful at work, coming in with a fresh new pitch at his advertising company. He loves his wife unconditionally, and he’s an impeccable storyteller. 

The twist—the spa was a cloning centre and now there’s two Miles: the original and the better version of himself, the new Miles.

Rudd’s portrayal of both versions of Miles doesn’t just showcase his talent but also offers viewers a meaningful message. As the plot constantly moves back and forth between both versions of Miles, the show reminds viewers that as humans, we’re always shifting between vulnerability and confidence. 

It reminds us that those who appear perfect still have challenges, and that even at our lowest, we have the potential to improve.

Once original Miles sees the better version of himself living his life to the fullest, he realizes how good he’s always had it despite his negative attitude, and he fights for his old life back. While doing so, he subconsciously processes all of his flaws when he sees how great and positive the new Miles is. The real Miles has a literal fight with his clone—undoubtedly a metaphor for the emotionally taxing inner battles we have with our own insecurities. 

Not only did this series lead me to relate to the original Miles, an insecure and rather bland character, but it also made me realize something about my TV-watching habits. I’m tired of watching characters do unrealistic things onscreen. I’m tired of television shows and movies that force me to imagine a world that’s not my own.   

Personally, I’d much rather watch a regular man trying to be happy in the suburbs. 

Living with Yourself gives viewers a fresh take on human vulnerability by showing us an ordinary, vulnerable man. Aside from the cloning, there’s no big event or revelation, but rather a slow (and somewhat boring) lead-up to Miles realizing he’s capable of being a better version of himself. 

I’m glad I watched Paul Rudd talk to himself for eight 20-minute episodes. If you’re willing to do so, I encourage you to take a well-deserved Netflix break right now and give the show a chance.

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