Paul Rudd's "Living With Yourself" Is Extremely Normcore

This article contains spoilers for Netflix's "Living With Yourself."

Netflix's new series Living With Yourself has two major things going for it.

The first is Paul Rudd. The man has a charm to him and an ageless youthfulness that makes him a delight to watch even as the schlubby, nihilistic Miles, who is only distinguishable from New Miles by his messy hair and eye bags.

The other main positive is the premise, which apparently occurred to creator Timothy Greenberg in a recurring dream. In the series, Rudd plays a worn-out and downbeat man who decides to fork over $50,000 in order to undergo a mysterious operation meant to make him into a "happy" person. He visits a spa and then wakes up underground. It soon becomes clear that the procedure was actually a cloning process, and now there are two Paul Rudds—one loving and upbeat (also known as New Miles), the other as down as ever, albeit more confused.

That's about the extent of the weirdness of Living With Yourself, an impressive fact in and of itself—the show takes a complex sci-fi concept worthy of Black Mirror in its eeriness and makes it palatable, inoffensive, and simplistic. In its eight episodes, it's heavy on lackluster humor, benign upper-middle-class suburban surroundings, and cookie-cutter characters.

That's not to say that it's a bad show. At risk of shattering any residual illusions of journalistic objectivity, I admit my personal vendetta against it may come from the fact that I've been interested in personal duality and its intersections with technology for years, and I've spent a good amount of time researching and writing about it. The concept that each person contains a dark side and a light side within them is ancient and primal, and the show's plotline had all the makings of a fascinating or at least intriguing psychological journey. Also, the question of whether—if given the choice—we would eliminate our sadness and internal turmoil and allow ourselves to be replaced by happy-go-lucky clones touches on larger philosophical debates about genetic engineering, medication, artificial intelligence, and technology on the whole, questions that we'll have to face sooner rather than later.

Instead of addressing these themes, the show's creators opted for a light, almost anachronistic rom-com vibe, relying heavily on Paul Rudd's charm while asking for relatively little critical thought from the audience. The vast existential implications and science of the cloning process are sidenotes at best. Out of all the characters, I personally related most to Weinraub, the insane FDA employee running a cloning interrogation room in a spare office.

All that said, Living With Yourself has ample charm. It will certainly appeal to anyone who's ever been stuck in a repetitive rut, wondering what would happen if negative thoughts could be completely wiped out of their brain. It's careful to practice some element of social awareness, too. Though it centers on Paul Rudd, it offers its leading woman—Miles' wife Kate (Aisling Bea)—a nuanced if initially underwritten storyline, giving her some piercing clapbacks and context and refusing to allow her to be pigeonholed or idealized. Miles' relationship with Kate is probably the show's most complex aspect, for better or for worse.

Living With Yourself is also embedded with gentle critiques of toxic masculinity and other harmful tropes. The original Miles recoils when New Miles cries, and he's afraid of showing emotions and connecting to others, which is a core part of his sadness. That he has nothing else to be sad about is indicative of his class privilege (among other kinds), but it's also something that everyone can probably relate to in some way. Still, Miles' sadness is mostly expressed in doleful glares and sighs, and ultimately the show fails to actually make a piercing emotional impact in any way, either in the humorous or emotional sense. It lacks the rigor of Black Mirror, the quirky vibrance of Russian Doll, or the vulnerability of Modern Love, a show that has been criticized for its dreamy idealism but that seems deep and nuanced compared to this one. There's nothing wrong with Living With Yourself, but it's missing a spark.


Brie Larson Reaches Badass Status in First Photos of Captain Marvel

The Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies Just Got Another Female Hero

SPOILER ALERT! But c'mon, the movie came out five months ago.

Another strong, independent woman superhero? Yes, please! This week's colorful, comic-esque Entertainment Weekly featured Brie Larson on their cover suited up as Captain Marvel. Equipped with fierce fists and a slight smirk, she's bound to be the most powerful star yet.

The costume seems to stay very true to the comics, depending on which one you're reading — I've mainly seen her with short hair because in my opinion, the long, blonde hair makes everyone compare her to Supergirl. Both are amazing, BTW. What I love most about the suit is that it doesn't comically — pun intended — emphasize her chest, which the Marvel movies have done a good job of.

Captain Marvel is introduced as a last resort after Thanos wiped out half of the universe in a twisted attempt to save some of the population before running out of resources. He firmly believed that this was the only option to save the world and that he was the only one strong enough to achieve his goal — thus also killing Gamora, his daughter, and Vision, who had the last stone in his forehead.

Before Nick Fury turns to dust — along with Spiderman, Doctor Strange, and many others, if you can remember the heartbreak — he beeps Captain Marvel in what looks to be a glorified pager. Thus, we obtain our awful cliffhanger for the sequel to Infinity War, colloquially named Avengers 4.

However, before we can satisfy our curiosity and longing for justice, Captain Marvel will have her own self-titled movie coming out in March — set in the 1990s, we'll get to see Samuel L. Jackson as a two-eyed Nick Fury, Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, and Crazy Rich Asians star Gemma Chan as some kind of green being.

"She can't help but be herself. She can be aggressive, and she can have a temper, and she can be a little invasive and in your face," said Larson to EW. "She's also quick to jump to things, which makes her amazing in battle because she's the first one out there and doesn't always wait for orders. But the [not] waiting for orders is, to some, a character flaw."

Larson has starred in movies such as Kong: Skull Island, Room, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. She has won Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, along with many other awards and nominations.

Captain Marvel will come out on March 8, 2019 and the next Avengers film will be released only two months later on May 3, 2019.

Amber Wang is a freelancer for Popdust and various other sites. She is also a student at NYU, a photographer and intern at the Stonewall National Monument.

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