There comes a point in midlife when you realise that you are basically a fat, tired version of your younger self, and that your opportunities to achieve greatness are becoming horribly limited. But you still have a secret wish list.
After all, one day you might get that golden chance to be your best self. You still might win that Oscar, or go into space or achieve that long-held ambition to play bassoon in the Royal Philharmonic. Of course, you won’t ever do any of this, but hold on tight to that hope because it’s all you’ve got, apart from jowls, debt and plantar fasciitis.
Strangely enough, my wish list involves two Paul Rudds, so Living with Yourself on Netflix is like watching my dreams come true in front of my very eyes. Rudd plays Miles, an over-the-hill, depressed, knackered advertising executive. (Well, as knackered as Paul Rudd can be – what on earth is that guy’s skincare routine?)
Miles’ stunning wife (Aisling Bea), who is inexplicably about 20 years younger than him, wants a baby, but his sperm is as weak as his will to live, his job at a telecommunications ad agency is meaningless, and he’s staring into the abyss.
This being a Netflix show, though, he doesn’t just take up mountain biking or walk into the sea like Reggie Perrin. No, the hallmark of most Netflix shows is a wacky futuristic plot device, so instead Miles goes to a spooky weird spa where he pays 50 grand to be completely transformed by some mysterious process.
It’s like going on a date with Paul Rudd and realising he’s Paul Dudd
Actually, he’s been cloned, but something goes wrong – usually, the spooky spa people kill the original and replace them with version 2.0. This time though, the old Miles didn’t die, so the new Miles ends up having to live alongside his slobby, unimproved self. Mayhem ensues and lots of women like me are very happy because OH MY GOD, THERE ARE TWO PAUL RUDDS.
Well, I should be happy. I mean, it’s a fun idea, it’s impressively made, it’s clever, it’s supremely moreish and the episodes fly by until you realise you’ve binged most of the series. But I can’t help feeling a little kernel of disappointment. There are so many opportunities for mind-bending metaphysical comedy and all the people in it are funny and acting their socks off, but for some reason it takes itself far too seriously.
It’s like going on a date with Paul Rudd and realising he’s Paul Dudd. You turned up expecting a cheeky grin and some dirty jokes and instead you got three hours of him droning on about how dedicated he is to the craft of acting while you do origami with a beermat.
Am I being too picky? Maybe I’m expecting too much from my two Pauls. God, being middle-aged is hard. I think I might have to book myself a spa break.