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Review: 'Living With Yourself'


Paul Rudd is a known commodity in comedic films, and now the actor is getting his first leading role for a TV series. The Netflix show is called "Living With Yourself," and Rudd plays not one, but two characters. It debuts today, and NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says the double dose of Rudd is just one reason the show is one of the most ambitious of the year.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Imagine, for a moment, the anti-Paul Rudd. Instead of the boyish good looks from films like "Ant-Man" and "This Is 40," picture blue eyes dimmed by depression and oily, unwashed hair, his energetic, sharp wit curdled into a biting, sad sarcasm. That's Miles Elliott, a guy so stuck in his own midlife crisis, he can't bring himself to participate in fertility treatments.


ZACH CHERRY: (As Hugh) Morning, Mr. Elliott. This is South Hill Fertility Center calling to confirm your appointment for today.

PAUL RUDD: (As Miles Elliott) Hi, Hugh (ph).

CHERRY: (As Hugh) Let me guess, Mr. Elliott - another reschedule?

DEGGANS: Or talk to his wife about it.


AISLING BEA: (As Kate Elliott) We're never going to be able to make a baby if you won't keep your first appointment. You know, sperm analysis is nothing to be ashamed.

RUDD: (As Miles Elliott) Oh - can we just - let's just talk about it later, all right? I don't - let's not ruin a nice morning.

BEA: (As Kate Elliott) Yeah, wouldn't want to ruin this nice morning we're having. I don't know how many more of these nice mornings I can take.

DEGGANS: Failing at home and at work, Miles is desperate. A friend suggests a secret spa treatment which costs $50,000. Miles pays it - did I mention he was desperate? - and falls asleep in the spa. He wakes in a shallow grave. He walks home and finds another man who looks just like him but better - like, say, the actual Paul Rudd. The two Rudds head back to the spa to confront the operator.


JAMES SEOL: (As Jung-Ho) Reproductive cloning is still illegal in 187 countries.

RUDD: (As Miles Elliott) Cloning?

SEOL: (As Jung-Ho) Plus micro-synaptic memory transfer.

RUDD: (As Miles Elliott) Wait a minute. You cloned me?

SEOL: (As Jung-Ho) There you go. You hit the nail right on the head.

RUDD: (As Miles Elliott) Well, what were you planning on doing with the original me?

SEOL: (As Jung-Ho) For now, we bury the de-activees in the state forest. Upside, no entry fees - pretty good deal.

DEGGANS: Turns out, Miles is the first original to survive this process, setting up one of the most intriguing series of the year. Paul Rudd plays two people - the depressed, rundown schlub and a genetically enhanced Miles who's better at everything. Rudd's performances here are perfect. You never have to guess which Miles he's playing. And the scripts by show creator and "Daily Show" alum Timothy Greenberg shift perspective.

One episode is told from the original Miles' perspective and another from the clone's point of view. Instead of sitcom-style hijinks, "Living With Yourself" presents poignant comedy, as original Miles still struggles to be happy even though clone Miles secretly does much of his work. A discussion with his half-sister, played by Alia Shawkat, doesn't help much.


RUDD: (As Miles Elliott) He's better than me, isn't he? I mean, like, in everything.

ALIA SHAWKAT: (As Maia Elliott) Are you seriously jealous of you? Wow. You are making incredible advances in the field of feeling sorry for yourself.

RUDD: (As Miles Elliott) I don't get it. Why can't I be happy for once?

SHAWKAT: (As Maia Elliott) Because you didn't earn it.

DEGGANS: "Living With Yourself" is an entertaining, often absurd dramedy about a man forced to literally face how much he's fallen short in life. A story like that, delivered with twice the Paul Rudd, is a wonderful thing indeed.

I'm Eric Deggans. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.