Lindsay Lohan historically paved the way for actors to be able to star in both lead roles in a film, now Paul Rudd is following in her royal footsteps.
Living With Yourself follows Miles (Paul Rudd), a man who undergoes a shady experiment to make him a better man, only to wake up finding he has been replaced by a better version of himself and must fight to win back his wife, job and life.
Living With Yourself kicks off with a very intriguing premise, one that is compelling and suitable for a short 4-hour / 8-episode series. It has its ups and downs throughout the season but through some clever writing it remains engaging right to the end. It’s a strange series with a very odd tone that does stay pretty consistent. It’s like 75% dramatic and 25% comedic which is a good balance here as it allows the story to progress really quickly without having to constantly stop for comedic attempts. The writing is very strong for the most part, there are some well executed surprises spread throughout the season that effectively keep you engaged. It manages to fill eight episodes with enough material so it’s constantly movie but not so much that it has to rush through things. It never becomes boring, but there are areas of the story that are let-downs.
There’s an interesting story mechanic at play where you’ll follow events from the perspective of Miles, then you’ll follow events from the perspective of New Miles (Paul Rudd) and move forward once the two of them have caught up. It’s a storytelling device that works occasionally and adds plenty of context to the story, but sometimes it’s tedious as you have to relive snippets of an identical scene you just saw 10 minutes ago. It has its pros and cons but lends itself to the identity of the series well. There’s one and a half episodes within the series that are largely quite uninteresting in the grand scheme of things. One episode focuses almost entirely on Kate (Aisling Bea) and it just doesn’t have the same level of intrigue as when it’s following Miles. That’s not a commentary on Aisling’s performance, it’s just that it takes a lot longer to convey certain information than it should. There’s also one subplot that is very awkwardly weaved into the series and doesn’t work at all, despite being an angle that should have been great.
Paul Rudd is obviously the star of the show. His ability to play these dual roles in a way that allows you to differentiate between them, beyond just appearance, is a testament to his acting abilities, both dramatic and comedic. The nuances he brings to each character are as clear as night and day and he puts in two strong performances that make you root for both of them in different ways. He makes you care about both of them through the strength of his performances and the emotion he brings to each one. Then you have Aisling Bea who shines alongside Paul in virtually every scene. A lot of the heart of the show is delivered through her character and her very engaging performance, and she exhibits great chemistry with both of Paul’s characters. Speaking of chemistry, watching Paul interact with himself makes for some very entertaining sequences. It’s something that is pulled off really well here and doesn’t look silly or janky.
The title of the series, Living with Yourself, could very easily be the title of a self-help book. The series definitely knows that as it integrates some pretty thought-provoking themes into the episodes. It’s a lightly emotion-filled journey the characters take so there’s something meaningful and uplifting to gain out of this story. It’s a nice addition that allows you to be able to potentially get something more out of watching it other than some late-night entertainment.
Overall, the series is surprisingly a good one. The story may suffer some dips in the overall focus and one or two subplots do play out quite awkwardly, but the clever writing through enough curveballs and interesting scenarios to keep you engaged through to the end. Paul Rudd is fantastic in the dual lead roles and Aisling Bea is fantastic as the second lead (technically) alongside Paul. Don’t get your hopes up for a comedic series, it’s predominantly dramatic with a pretty strange tone but knows exactly when to have fun. Word of a second season has not been heard, so as a potential limited series it’s a pretty decent watch.