Living with Yourself (“Nice Knowing You”)

Season 1, Episode 8
Date of release: October 18, 2019 (Netflix)

Is it a good or a bad thing that this season of television ended in the most predictable fashion? Kate’s pregnancy I saw coming from a couple of miles away, and a couple of Miles’ fighting it out in the hopes to kill the other was also the most obvious part of the premise. While I’m asking myself the question about the show’s predictability during its most important episode, I can at least say that it was a fun watch. The dance number was a nice idea, albeit a certain way to put additional minutes into the episode and push up its length, and new Miles trying to find a way to best put a bullet in his head was somewhat amusing, making me feel ashamed that I found humor in a scene about suicide (does that make Timothy Greenberg a weird writer?). So yeah, a lot of questionable things about the closing 35 minutes of this season, but those questionable things didn’t dampen the joy of the show in general. Although maybe let’s not think about the ending too hard right now, because I don’t want to imagine that Kate’s pregnancy is leading to Miles, Miles and Kate living happily ever after. That’s kind of a great sitcom plot though.

Men just wanna breastfeed, too.

New Miles wanting to kill himself made his character seriously dark and I have no idea where that came from. In the previous episode he was planning to murder the original Miles so that he can have Kate all to himself, but apparently new Miles was capable of changing from lust of murder to lust of suicide in a heartbeat. Besides that, the timeline was freaking off by some weird margins in this episode, turning new Miles’ change from a murderous bastard to a suicidal depressed human being into something of a joke. Between witnessing Miles getting kidnapped and hearing Kate come into the house, the only things new Miles did was trying on some of Miles’ clothes, behaving like a depressed man and waiting for Kate. What original Miles was doing during the time was getting kidnapped, interrogated, thirsty, all followed by a montage of him reading magazines and drinking breastmilk, which was then followed by Miles getting back home from wherever he was — it’s an adventure I believe took most of the day, which I guess is time enough for new Miles to just hang in the house of his original and wait for stuff to happen. Which is usually something original Miles has been doing for the past few years.

But it doesn’t even stop here. As soon as Kate enters the house and new Miles is preparing to be Miles, the actual Miles comes home and starts the dance-off. Not only did Kate not have to wait long for her husband to return, but new Miles pretty much watched all of the dance, went to his apartment, thought about suicide, and then tried out multiple ways to kill himself, including a pretty smart way of not creating a huge mess for the cleanup crew by putting his head into a trash bag. That probably took some minutes, but in the same time, original Miles finished the dance with his wife, learned from her that she slept with new Miles and then made the decision to go to him and kill him. On his way there, he called new Miles on the phone, who answered after he tried out his suicidal options. When the timeline of a television show is screwed up like this, it takes me out of the episode and all I’m wondering about is how Greenberg messed it up so much in that regard and how he could drop the ball like this. Putting question marks over my head for a dance scene and new Miles’ options for suicide by shooting himself in the head? Is that what happens when you don’t have a writing partner or a writers room? Because I’m sure that issue would have been brought up and I would not have been nitpicky here.

Me versus myself in a match to the death.

But here we are. Miles and Miles had the talk, Kate realized whom she really loved, and in a way this season could not have had a better happy end, just in case Netflix is going to be crazy to not give Paul Rudd a second round at his television show, now that Greenberg has the chance to maybe even change the genre and production style of his project. Would it not be freaking crazy in the business of television when LIVING WITH YOURSELF changes from a black comedy drama to a sitcom between seasons that depicts a wife, her husband and his clone living together and raising a kid? It would probably do the show some good after it dropped Miles’ work and the contract with Hillston that was of such importance during the opening episodes.

Living with Yourself (“Piña Colada”)

Season 1, Episode 7
Date of release: October 18, 2019 (Netflix)

Before the season finale rolls around, Timothy Greenberg has decided to make the show and new Miles a little weirder, to create an antagonist in this story, to give the audience an opportunity to see Miles as a victim of the entire saga and to have them root for him. He just got kidnapped by the conspiracy aspect of the story, and new Miles didn’t even think about coming to his original’s aide. He decided to get rid of the geek and take him out of the equation, which would make new Miles more than just a literal murderer, it would also make him the villain of anyone’s story. The change in his character during this episode made me wonder how the cloning changed the client, and how many of them turned out to be different from what they were supposed to have been before the cloning. Miles was quite depressive and was about to give up on life, maybe even suicidal at one point. But here is new Miles, about to turn into a killer, or at least a person with no empathy. If Dan hadn’t gone to the spa, what would his original have become (okay, I don’t quite know who and how he really is now)? What is the new Tom Brady going to be and how different is his path from the original Tom Brady? When the spa scrubbed the DNA of their clients, what was essentially changed? And is it practically a way to prove that cloning doesn’t just create a second version of someone, but also a second fate?

Kate enjoys air from the window of a car as much as new Miles does.

New Miles and Kate went on a lunch date and then had a relationship somewhere in a Manhattan hotel, which was a pretty solid story. I liked watching the two have fun, and I appreciated that Kate was seeing all of this mess as problematic, which is why she couldn’t just continue with it. It’s even more interesting to realize that Kate just sees it as cheating on her husband and not sleeping with her husband’s perfect clone, but at the end of the day, the fact that she could not continue things with new Miles must prove she loves the original Miles, does it not? Maybe she actually likes the depressed and sorry version of her husband, but maybe she just doesn’t want to deal with the fact that she has the ability to live two versions of her marriage. It’s probably easier to just go down with the knowledge that you cheated on your husband (with your husband) instead of telling yourself that you had sex with a clone. By the way, new Miles and Kate had sex, with means the chance for a pregnancy are pretty high now. There could be a cliffhanger ending in the next episode, and besides that, Greenberg could use the potential pregnancy as a way to get Miles out of his funk and have him be a solid husband again. Maybe he just became depressed because of the whole fertility thing. Maybe all he needed in his life was new Miles to take care of getting Kate pregnant and that is it.

“Can I use my murder coupon for these?”

Until then though, someone needs to save Miles, and I don’t think new Miles and Kate are interested. New Miles will take the opportunity to take Miles’ spot and Kate probably won’t even get to know about it, which means Miles has to save himself. Also until then, new Miles should watch out what he’s doing in the future. He told Dan about the secrets of the spa (who knows, maybe that is the reason Miles got kidnapped? They were actually after new Miles?), which means the cloning business could become public knowledge at one point, revealing to the world that it might be full of clones (with Miles, Dan and Tom Brady being clients, chances are there are millions more who have gone to the spa at a strip mall). I can’t even imagine how all of this could be teased with the next episode, all while still following the present narrative that has to come to a close.

Living with Yourself (“Neighbors and Friends”)

Season 1, Episode 6
Date of release: October 18, 2019 (Netflix)

I have no idea what was happening during the second half of the episode, but maybe it’s Timothy Greenberg’s way of slowly turning the show into a cloning conspiracy which I saw in-between the lines throughout the first couple of episodes. Original Miles may get to find out what it’s like to piss off an international conglomerate of a communications company, while he will also soon find out why he went through the week of crappy work he did during this episode. It’s a fact though that the man had no plan on how to keep up his little ruse with his fake twin brother, since original Miles never figured to keep track of Miles the clone over the course of the week and maybe follow along the procedure of building a pitch and selling it not only to the company, but also the people. This has been Miles’ job after all, but now that he has a clone who is doing the work for him (or so he thought), he can just sleep the days away and not even stay up-to-date? Oh man, Miles really has a problem right now. And not just after a hood was pulled over his head, but generally speaking.

Is someone watching him watching porn?

This episode also made sure that the viewers know why Greenberg decided to tell the story from the points of view of both sets of Miles. Of course we all are going to get antsy about what is happening to original Miles while the end credits are rolling and Netflix cues up the next episode (not for me though, as I’m watching them one by one), and of course my mind is spinning right now when it comes to the potential conspiracy thriller storyline that may or may not have been teased once or twice ever since Miles and Miles left the spa in the second episode. I would have thought the big box of bloody pig was the beginning of Miles and Miles being in danger, but I guess something happened during this episode that only Miles the clone can explain, which we will get to see in the next episode, because that’s the way Greenberg chose to frame the narrative of the show. It’s just the question if I’m actually interested in what is happening to Miles — I was definitely surprised by the developments during the past few minutes, but I didn’t really mean I was suddenly urged to watch the next episode immediately.

But yeah, this episode ridiculed its central character by not keeping track of what his fake twin brother is doing, begging the question what Miles was doing during the week. Did he sleep through the morning every day, woke up depressed and non-caring, and went back to bed in the hopes of getting rich and famous by letting his twin do all the work? Kate definitely did not seem interested in doing anything with Miles (probably because she has been full-on dating with Miles the clone, which she coined as “New Miles,” so maybe I should do the same from here on) and that needs explaining in the next episode as well, making this episode the preview of things to come in the next half hour. And honestly, I am not so sure if it was a great idea to write the episode like this. As if Greenberg completely and totally fell in love with his way of framing the narrative and had to test the waters and push the buttons of his framing device, just to make it clear to the viewers that a story is still being told somewhere else while you watch the events on the screen unfold. But while previous episodes could have easily lived without “the other side of the story,” as the characters went a little back in time to depict the point of view of the other Miles, this episode was a little pretentious about the fact that the point of view of new Miles is going to explain what happened here.

After the town hall is before the vote.

Also, Miles turned out to be not a smart man at all, or who knows, maybe he was the smartest of them all. When he showed up at the town hall, I believed at first he just wanted to finally know what it’s like to watch himself do a great and wonderful job, but when he was with Ray and his friends at the bar, I got the feeling that Miles was actually working by mingling with the crowd and convincing them on a more personal level to choose the Hillston contract. Not showing up to check the status of new Miles, but showing up to the presentation at the town hall and essentially doing the work with the story about his grandfather — yeah, I really am not sure whether or not Miles is one of the good guys here, because his behavior and decision-making could be considered “rambling.” As if he has learned absolutely nothing from his experiences of the past few days. Damn, I’m starting to root for new Miles now, because he at least seems to know what to do.

Living with Yourself (“Va Bene”)

Season 1, Episode 5
Date of release: October 18, 2019 (Netflix)

Timothy Greenberg decided to take away the meaning of his show’s title and go with something different for the second half of the project, which I found to be a great idea. You can excuse the fact that the episode barely moved the story along in this episode, since all that has happened was that Kate responded to Miles’ message on the Da8er app (what in the name of Alanis Morissette as the almighty lord is the letter “a” doing in there?) and the two met each other the next day. In the meantime, this episode made a real character out of Kate, which I’m super thankful for, because even though she always had a tiny amount of screentime per episode for the previous four half-hours, I found her to be slightly intriguing. This episode gave her the huge back story she was waiting to tell the viewers about, and suddenly she is a central character of the story. Not just because of the fact that Miles the clone is on a date with her, but because she may use this opportunity to rethink her life choices, in which Miles the clone may play an integral role in while the original Miles is left standing in the rain. It could show how Miles’ efforts to become a better person both worked fabulously and failed horribly — a better version of Miles came out of his spa experience, but Miles turned out to be not at all smart when it comes to doing something with that. Besides that, the story can finally go into the direction I hoped it would move towards since the reveal of the cloning practice: Miles the clone will give Kate the baby she wanted for more than 1800 days. Now the question is how Miles the original is going to be involved in all of this, since they are both the same person.

Selfie time in front of the new house.

The idea for this episode also creates an intriguing thought process about dating one’s partner’s clone and seeing it as cheating on the partner. I am very much interested to know how Kate is going through this entire thing for the next few episodes (or the remainder of the season), because from here on her character arc can only go in two directions: One, she sees both Miles as one and just uses the clone to get her dream of starting a family fired up, or two, she cheats on her husband with her husband’s clone, which would then eventually lead to the ultimate conflict between both sets of Miles. When I think about it though, I hope the latter doesn’t happen, because it would make a plot device out of Kate, who would only have started to “date” her husband’s clone, just so Miles and Miles can fight it out over a woman.

Focusing on Kate for this episode was perfect. It almost signalled the beginning of a new chapter of the show, as it’s not just a Paul Rudd two-men show any longer, and for once Aisling Bea got something to do and delivered a performance that was essentially an audition tape for any other streaming service that wishes to hire her to become the female lead of their new television project. She reminded me of two different people during this episode — one, she has a similar look to Zooey Deschanel, which became a little more obvious during the scenes set 1800 days before the cloning. She also has a pretty awesome British accent that makes me see and hear Jack Reynor, who was the scene stealer in the underappreciated and underrated British pop-rock/punk band drama SING STREET. Two things I love to see being joined into one actress that has just delivered a great character, whom I cannot understand her reasoning to stay with Miles who becomes more and more depressed over the years, while she still had hopes to make a baby with him, even telling him that she loves him. In fact, that may just be another angle of how her character is actually working: She loves the guy so much and wants a baby only with him that she has recapitulated the notion of having a loving and fully functioning marriage with him. It became noticeable when she couldn’t even read one of the messages she got on the dating site and was rather disgusted with all the men and their profile pics plus messages after her little moment of anger in front of the 48-year-old wannabe hipster child. All she wants is her Miles, which is most likely why she wrote him back and went on a date with him, knowing that it’s Miles, but also knowing that he will at least love and respect her.

Regular meltdowns occur when in presence of an asshole man.

Plus points to the opening seconds of the episode — Greenberg almost had me when he began with Kate waking up and good-looking Miles (therefore Miles the clone) waiting for her. For a moment I really thought that Miles the clone managed to get his Kate the clone. LIVING WITH YOURSELF is a great in proving to Netflix that you can out serialized television shows on their platform while also having individually structured episodes. LIVING WITH YOURSELF may be a feature film with eight chapters at the end, but at least the chapters are real chapters, with a beginning and an end, and some conflict to resolve in the middle. If only all the Netflix shows could be like this.

Living with Yourself (“Soul Mate”)

Season 1, Episode 4
Date of release: October 18, 2019 (Netflix)

Every time I think that Timothy Greenberg is about to turn this show into a horror story, something happens that gives me hope in humanity, no matter how creepy the premise is after four episodes. Miles the clone went into the house of his original to not be a crazed goat and murder Miles, just so he can get with Kate forever and always, he went there to get some DNA in the hopes of getting him his own Kate clone, which is kind of romantic when you think of it a little longer. The original Miles may have been depressed for a long time, which is why he got into this position in the first place, but it’s slowly but surely starting to sicker through that the clone is also slightly unwell and may have to deal with a heartbreak pretty soon. This man is being shut out of his own life through no fault of his own, he is being kicked out of his own life by his own wife he loves dearly, he is being told that he is not having a life and that he should stay away from everything, all while original Miles is still asking of him to stick around and help him with the Hillston project. How would you feel when you’re not welcome in this life, but you are still being used for a certain talent that may help out someone else? It awfully sounds like Miles the clone is a slave, with the difference that he does not have to be captured to be a slave, let alone build houses and grow crop and raise children without ever getting paid. I’m pretty sure though the original Miles gets the paychecks for the firm he works for, while Miles the clone is doing all the work. Damn, this man has all the reason in the world to suddenly snap.

Does she get a double dose of the love story of her life?

But because LIVING WITH YOURSELF is still a comedy drama, it must not even go down that direction, and neither Miles nor his clone have to turn crazy to make something of their lives in this world. Four episodes in and the show is still delivering surprises by being bluntly open and unsure about where the story could go, leaving the audience in the dark. But I think I am saying that for the third time now, and the same amount of times I mentioned that LIVING WITH YOURSELF is still a comedy drama, which means it will never go beyond the floor and turn into a hell on Earth. But then again, Greenberg is positioning the characters in a way that would make a break for the absolute terrible logical. When you beat an animal, you should not be surprised that it bites back. When you attack a group of people, you shouldn’t be bothered by the fact that they are defending themselves. When you bully a kid in high school, you should count on learning the repercussions of your actions. And the worst case scenario of all three things is that a gun will be involved and suddenly everyone is shooting. And yes, I even count the animals in there, because who knows if they are self-conscious already, planning their takeover of the planet a la PLANET OF THE APES.

I am loving how the show focuses on one Miles from the set of two in one episode, with Greenberg deciding to tell the story from two points of view. It works, because it gives the notion that something is happening off-screen while the story you’re watching is unfolding on screen. It isn’t always about what you see that is happening, it’s also the fact of life: You think you have the time of your life celebrating your promotion, but all this time your alter ego is having something of a midlife crisis again (or is still in one) and blows up your party, bringing everything to a sudden and shocking stop. You think you can finally spend some happy time with your wife? Think again, because the dealbreaker is already one the way to ruin your day, and there are also quite a few adventures on the way to making your day worse.

After sex is during social media break.

With the focus on Miles the clone, Greenberg was able to depict what it’s like for a heartbroken man in the world of dating, even though he still loves his wife (who wants nothing to do with him, treating him like a drunken homeless dude who still had a needle in the arm, brought home by her husband for some reason). It’s another way of depicting depression, and it’s when I realized that Miles the clone also had it a little difficult in life. The original Miles may have had the patent of being a miserable asshole about to throw everything away and just quit, but it turns out that Miles the clone is being treated unfairly, turning him slowly into the original Miles. Is there no happiness for both sets of Miles?

Living with Yourself (“Green Tea”)

Season 1, Episode 3
Date of release: October 18, 2019 (Netflix)

There is a lesson in this episode as to how to write television or movies: Don’t just wait to release a twist that could change up the entire story, release it into the narrative when you feel that thing are going a little slow and need a bit of speed. Both sets of Miles had something of a week during these 27 minutes, in which the clone prepares a great pitch to fish a communications company led by an old white guy, while the original tries to write a play but gets distracted by porn and beer and jealousy towards his better performing equal. The life of the original Miles could have gone only downhill from here on, which was the best moment to prove that twists can be placed into a narrative in a smart way, and that a story can change for the better at the right time, which is when the story could have turned out worse.

When you got a clone working for you, there’s more time for beer and porn.

The ending of this episode could keep LIVING WITH YOURSELF in the comedy drama genre, while also still trying to keep a toe into the good versus evil premise, in which the original Miles slowly loses the ground beneath his feet and decides to go up against his doppelgänger in a more violent fashion. It’s kind of intriguing how the writing of the show is so obviously stacked into one genre, especially with its central cast member, but could easily do a detour and go straight to the more terrifying narrative of the premise — I want for both sets of Miles to figure things out and co-exist in this world, but for that to happen, a lot of coincidences have to happen first, and I would rather believe that the original Miles is going to attack his clone, before any of said coincidences could lead to a better life for Miles and Miles. Timothy Greenberg did help himself with a nice plot device to move towards the latter though: If Miles’ half-sister easily buys into the accidental cloning story and can get something out of both sets of her half-brother, then what’s to say that the rest of Miles’ surroundings can’t do the same? Like I said before, I would love to see what it looks like when Kate has two copies of her husband to live with, especially with one of them probably being healthy and ready to produce semen that can plant life into a woman’s egg.

In the meantime, LIVING WITH YOURSELF is also something of a study about depression, and how it can either pull you down even harder or give you an opportunity to come out of it. Before the visit to the spa, Miles was very much done with the world — his marriage was starting to crumble, he was close to losing his job, and he was pretty much on the line to not giving a shit any longer. Out comes his more euphoric, happier and more optimistic clone and suddenly Miles sees what his life could look like is he starts giving a shit again. Did Greenberg choose the premise of a clone to turn it into a parable of what it’s like to live with depression? Is LIVING WITH YOURSELF actually just a show about mental health? If that is true, does it mean there isn’t really anything behind the station wagon that has been stalking the original Miles during his trip to his half-sister and then to the old white guy in charge of a communications company? Is coming forward with the twin thing an option for original Miles to become a better person and getting his life back on track?

It’s time toffee the truth.

I was glad to realize that LIVING WITH YOURSELF is still partially a comedy. The pitch turned out to be a laugh-out-loud moment when a split second of Miles’ recently watched porn video was played instead of the pitch video, and for some reason I could not keep it together up until the old white guy decided to tell Miles a gruesome story about stealing food rations in a concentration camp and witnessing the execution of other Jews. That story destroyed the smile on my face over the porn clip pretty quickly and all of a sudden I didn’t know what I was watching any longer. Although chances are that Miles was just facing yet another moment that almost buried him six feet under, because when you’re depressed, you may do anything to just get a little bit of that light back in your life, which in this case is stealing the words from someone else. It does show that Miles is unable to live his own life at the moment — something terrible needs to happen in his life to get him even more depressed and maybe suicidal, which is where the show could turn really dark without having to tip any more toes into the water of genre horror.

Living with Yourself (“Made in a Strip Mall”)

Season 1, Episode 2
Date of release: October 18, 2019 (Netflix)

The life of Miles the clone has gotten a lot more complicated after today’s revelation, because it turns out his life has never been the way he thought it was. After finding out that he is a clone, and that he never had a fruit cup before, let alone kissed his wife, the once happy and outgoing Miles has now become a secluded human being with a mind that could lead him both directions — is he going away and on travels to let the original Miles live his old life, or is he going to get in-between his original and his wife, because Miles the clone wants to have a life as well. I would assume this is the original premise of LIVING WITH YOURSELF, a show about a clone that is neither science-fiction like THE 6TH DAY nor a conspiracy thriller like ORPHAN BLACK. It’s an approach to a fantastical premise that does not need a ton of CGI coverage, let alone a greenscreen world, and it partially reminds me of the Mike Cahill/Brit Marling film ANOTHER EARTH, which is a character drama focusing on a relationship with emotional depth dressed in a science-fiction premise. Something that LIVING WITH YOURSELF could replicate, but replace the other Earth in the solar system with a clone of yourself. I would almost hope that this show is not turning into the drama comedy I thought it could be after watching the first episode and seeing Paul Rudd do his best Paul Rudd impersonation, I would hope that LIVING WITH YOURSELF is a show about a person suddenly losing their life in a crude way, trying to find a way to get back to it and forget that the weird things ever happened.

Someone likes driving in the wind.

And this is where Paul Rudd’s acting abilities come to play. People who have seen most of his work already know that he is able to pull off the character drama like it’s the business of an Emmy winner, but for those who only know him as the awkward and comedic character, who dresses up in a superhero suit and fights with the Avengers for the existence of all life, get to see something different from him in LIVING WITH YOURSELF, begging the question if they were actually expecting a rather serious drama show or if they were hoping to get Paul Rudd doing Paul Rudd things. The clone version of his character went through a major crisis of life during this episode, his existence being ripped from under him, thrown into a life he never thought he would life or hoped he would never life as he was content with what he has, pushed out of his normalcy by someone who looks and talks just like him, and all this because an illegal cloning company screwed up. It gives Miles the clone more character depth than Miles the original could ever get, as the premise of someone losing their life and having to be replaced by a copy is more tragic than being the original who takes back his life from his clone. And things get even more complicated when it turns out that both sets of Miles don’t separate from each other on their personality spectrums and they remain truthful to who they are (meaning, one does not turn into a serialkilling monster while the other is the exact opposite), because who are you going to root for? And which Miles is going to be villain in which episode while the other tries his best to get his life back together? In the previous episode, the original Miles just wanted to get back home to his wife and had his life upended by his copy. In this episode Miles the clone gets his life upended, because his original wants him out of his life. If you can’t understand where both sets of Miles are coming from in each of their own stories, then you don’t have a heart for Paul Rudd doing dramatic things in his career.

Miles gives Miles the bank card.

Two episodes in, and it’s about time for the premise to be expanded to something more than just Miles and Miles trying to get a grip on the life of Miles. To keep the show in a more warm light, Kate would have to know about the existence of the clone and then Timothy Greenberg can go all in on a comedic version of a love triangle, in which the woman is married to her husband and his clone. Let Kate learn that Miles the clone is super healthy and may help her to start a family, and the original Miles may even be in danger of losing his position in his own life (judging by how Miles the clone did not need his glasses to drive and was also missing his scar from the appendectomy, chances are the cloning company fixed Miles in all manners regarding DNA, hence his sperm is now viable to produce life). And in the meantime, either Miles could decide to take revenge on the cloning company for the miserable life he is now living, which could bring the show easily to a conspiracy storyline if desired. At this point of LIVING WITH YOURSELF, a question needs to be answered: What does the show want and in which genre wants it to play? This could still turn into something of a comedy drama, but judging by how destroyed Miles the cone was about having to leave his life behind for the sake of his original, chances are there will be a fight to figure out which Miles deserves to be here. But do any of the other characters have a say in that?