Midlife crisis meets comedy: Paul Rudd balances the real, the bizarre in ‘Living with Yourself’


Paul Rudd

Brionna Scebbi and Brionna Scebbi

A midlife crisis except there’s two of you.

Semi-sad 50-year-olds everywhere cringe at the idea of doubling the depression, but Paul Rudd does what he does best and breathes life into the situation — literally. 

“Living with Yourself” hit Netflix in mid-October with eight 26-minute episodes following the stress, comedic moments and overall ridiculousness of an experiment gone wrong. 

The pilot of the show opens with none other than Rudd bursting from the ground, completely encased in plastic wrap and wearing only a diaper, before cutting to his boring office job. Mediocrity fills the scene as Rudd’s character, Miles, struggles to perform at work. 

His work performance isn’t the only thing affected by this emotional slump Miles, frumpy and disheveled looking, has found himself in. The show also walks us through awkward interactions with Miles’ wife as she pressures him to take a fertility test. 

I found myself applauding Rudd’s acting ability from the first moments of the pilot. He plays the first eight minutes or so as if he was in a drama, not a comedy. You want to laugh because, I mean, it’s Paul Rudd. But he creates scenes serious enough that you hold your laughter in, even when Miles experiences somewhat comical blunders. 

This bated comedy is simply because there’s enough second-hand embarrassment and relatability in the scenes to create sympathy for Miles. 

But as the storyline becomes more ridiculous and the key plot point of the entire show begins, you have no choice but to chuckle — if not wince — while Miles finds himself in complicated situations. 

Miles’ coworker Dan, who outshines him earlier in the episode at a work presentation, shares his secret to success with Miles: a spa. 

Handing him a white business card with purple text on it, Dan recommends Top Happy Spa to Miles as the solution to all his sadness, which of course Miles scoffs at. But following a stressful morning with his wife, he calls the number on the card. 

A couple miles, a run-in with Tom Brady and $50,000 later, Miles is roped into the Top Happy Spa scheme through talk of rewriting sadness, humiliation and other traits of a bad life. 

Placed into a white robe and a diaper, Miles eventually finds himself laying on a purple table in a very purple room.

The two gentlemen coordinating the entire process of creating a better Miles argue in another language about the tank connected to an anesthetic mask on Miles’ face. The tank sputters and the men keep arguing before the screen fades to black. 

Cut back to the dirt, diaper and plastic wrap. 

Miles, confused and frantic, rips off the wrap and runs barefoot through the woods he found himself in. Six hours and a couple embarrassing, half-naked run-ins with neighboring houses and passing cars, Miles makes his way back home — only to find himself already there. 

In a failed cloning experiment through which Miles was supposed to be killed and replaced with a happier version of himself, Miles comes to face something pretty bizarre: his clone. The pilot ends with the two Miles returning to Top Happy Spa to demand an explanation and a solution. 

The season follows the challenges of sharing one wife, one car, one home and one life between two of the same person.

“Living with Yourself” Season 1 looks to be an entertaining watch based on a pilot that balances the reality of a mediocre if not depressing life and the comedy of Miles’ failed attempt to fix it. With Rudd’s acting (x2) and producing, this existential comedy is as interesting in storyline as it is in its cinematography. 

When original Miles and new Miles first meet, they engage in a bit of a brawl before realizing who the other person actually is. For the crew of “Living with Yourself” to shoot Rudd fighting himself had to be difficult, and based on interviews with Rudd, it’s not the only time he has to fight himself.

“When I first read it (the fight scene), I loved it. I thought, ‘This is epic … and it’ll be a nightmare to shoot,” Rudd said in a Netflix Shot by Shot interview.

Not only does the complicated production of scenes with Rudd in them twice, and often physically interacting with himself, give the show a lot more character, the way the scenes are shot make the show all that more fun to watch. 

As Miles drives to the spa for the first time and as he escapes what was meant to be his grave, the shots become shaky, uneven and similar to that of some of the scariest scenes in a horror movie. The camera brings the viewer into the anxiety and franticness of the scene in a way that is almost a comedic level of drama. 

These shots, along with a storyline that is as real as it is strange, drop the viewers right into Miles’ midlife crisis.