Living with Yourself stars Paul Rudd as Miles Elliott, an advertising talent who is in a serious rut in his personal and professional lives. On the advice of a friend, he visits a spa to try a treatment that promises to brighten his outlook. Later that night, he wakes up in the woods, out $50,000, and replaced by a happier, kinder clone of himself. Miles has to figure out what to do about New Miles and how this development will impact his floundering relationship with his wife, Kate (Aisling Bea).
Miles Elliott is whiny and lost. New Miles is almost too kind and too charming. As a pair, they are a bit exhausting, but Living with Yourself is a funny and thought-provoking series, perfect for a quick weekend binge. As Miles figures out how to handle New Miles, he is really trying to find a way back to being kind, charming, and engaged like his clone is. Meanwhile, Kate tries to find what she saw in Miles to begin with, while literally seeing her husband in double. The setup provides plenty of opportunities for corny, trite visual gags, and I am relieved that Living with Yourself takes only a few of those chances. Instead, it focuses on the emotional dynamic while finding more creative ways to offer laughs. Often, the series feels like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone.
In addition to the creative writing, the series also features great performances from Paul Rudd and Aisling Bea. Rudd does a great job of playing two versions of the same person, often opposite himself. He and Bea have good chemistry together and she takes her well-written character and makes her dryly funny and full of emotional heft.
Living with Yourself was created by Timothy Greenberg. It is rated TV-MA and runs for eight half-hour episodes.
The Devil Next Door, a new docuseries from Netflix, covers the trial of John Demjanjuk, a Cleveland man who is accused of being Ivan the Terrible, a notorious guard at a concentration camp during World War II. The series follows the twists and turns of Demjanjuk’s legal case as he is stripped of his U.S. citizenship and taken to Israel for trial on war crimes charges.
Given the subject matter of this documentary, I thought it would be a slam dunk. The combination of true crime, history, and an upsetting case drew me in, but it failed to hold my attention. This show could have easily done well as a feature-length documentary movie, rather than a multi-episode series. By expanding it over several episodes, the pace of the story slows to a crawl and the urgency of the situation falls apart. The story also becomes somewhat predictable at a slower pace.
Don’t get me wrong, there is genuinely something fascinating about Demjanjuk’s situation. He is pulled from his comfortable, ordinary life as a church-going, factory-working grandfather in the Midwest of the United States and accused of unspeakable acts and taken to a foreign country to stand trial for war crimes. If he was Ivan the Terrible, the subversion of his image as an immigrant living the American Dream is startling. If he wasn’t, imagining what this upheaval felt like for him is even more startling. The problem is that the docuseries presents the case in far too sprawling and belabored a manner. Although I thought that the testimonies from Holocaust survivors were riveting and tragic, the many talking-head segments with experts and lawyers were droning. If you love deep dives into very specific histories, you may enjoy this series, but I do not recommend it to the more casual viewer.
The Devil Next Door was directed by Yossi Bloch and Daniel Sivan. It runs for five hour-long episodes.
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