MILD SPOILERS AHEAD
On the surface, Living With Yourself (Netflix, 2019) is a TV series about living with the consequences of inadvertently cloning yourself. At least, that’s what the trailer led me to believe. In reality, Living With Yourself is a TV series about living with depression.
In this series, we see what happens when Miles Elliot attends what he believes to be a spa and undergoes a treatment which results in an unexpected cloning. This is further complicated because both he and his clone survive, and must learn to live one life.
Paul Rudd plays Miles, an advertising executive, who is suffering with depression. Aisling Bea plays Kate, his wife, whose career is considerably more successful, and the supporting cast includes a sinfully under-utilised Alia Shawkat as Miles’ half-sister.
At first, I was really concerned that Kate was going to be a one-note character because she honestly comes across as a bit of a nag in the first episode. I should have known better. Aisling Bea is too good an actress and creator to be anything other than extremely accomplished and she plays Kate incredibly well, and sympathetically. After fertility issues, she now has to deal with the fact that her husband is hiding something from her and, ultimately, the time comes to define the relationship(s), so to speak.
The star(s) of this show, clearly, is Paul Rudd. For the first time ever, he almost looks his age and it makes sense. He’s portraying a man with significant depression and that is the strength of this show. It’s an examination of mental health.
Leaving your worst self at home while you go out and face the day as your best self is a coping mechanism that many of us can relate to. Living With Yourself gives us an opportunity to see that in a more literal manner. Miles sends his happy, accomplished clone self out to work while he stays home and, variously, drinks beer, jerks off to porn and tries to write a screenplay.
While I’m not saying that every part of that sounds tempting (I don’t drink beer, for starters), there is something deeply appealing about being able to leave one’s worst attributes behind, shedding them like a second skin. A life without depression seems effortless and full of so much potential and that is explored extremely well in Living With Yourself.
This method of coping naturally leads to a fracture between two selves. It is, I suppose, not a fair division of labour and the relationship between the two clones suffers.
The show is very well paced and it is suitably surreal and surprisingly realistic, despite the premise. It is a comedy, too, and a drama, and it is entirely worth investing the time in this eight-episode series. The final scene promises a sequel but it also felt like the end of a chapter and if season two never comes, I think I’ll be satisfied.
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD