On Valentine’s Day, Hulu dropped the entire first season of High Fidelity, and if you have yet to watch this remake, what are you even doing with your life?
To be honest I hate the reboot/remake trend, but I was completely hooked by the first episode and just like Rob’s tendency to make Top Five lists, this version of High Fidelity hits all of my top five cover requirements.
Rule #1: Don’t Just Remake – Reimagine
The Hulu romantic dramedy is the third reincarnation of Nick Hornby’s novel. This Rob still owns a record shop, still has a devoted group of friends, still is a complete disaster when it comes to love, and still ruminates on the creation of the perfect mixtape. However, Rob is now short for Robin, and we now get a biracial and bisexual female lead who knows just as much about music and love as her straight, white male counterparts.
But we’re not just given the two hour film, expanded over ten episodes. This High Fidelity allows for more of those moments that we loved about the novel to come to life. With the additional time, the story isn’t rushed and like a great album, we get to savor and relish in each note and lyric. We get more time discovering Rob’s top five heartbreaks, get to spend a little longer in the record shop, discover even more amazing music, and meet even more colorful characters, like a vindictive Parker Posey who offers to sell her cheating husband’s priceless album collection to Rob for just twenty dollars. Because of the expanded time, the show not only let us see one of the beloved scenes from the novel come to screen, but it also made us appreciate Rob as a music fan and human being even more.
But this reimagining goes beyond just the page, with the help of female talent behind the cameras including creators Sarah Kucserka and Veronica West. By transforming Rob into a female, the show allows for more opportunities in rich story with situations that hit a little too close to home for many of us, especially women. No one ever questions the male Rob’s musical intelligence or passion for an amazing album. In female Rob’s world, she has to prove herself. Although many appreciate her musical ability, she still has to break barriers to prove her place in this white man’s world, and she does it with subtle strength and knowledge.
Rule #2: Pick A Strong Lead
High Fidelity opens with teary eyed record shop owner Rob expounding on her “All-time Top Five Most Memorable Heartbreaks.” Just before she announces lucky number five, we actually get front row seats to see the fresh heartbreak take place in her living room. Rob begs and pleads for Mac to stay a little longer, reminding him of their promises but the damage is done and Rob is once again, left alone with her tears. She breaks the fourth wall and welcomes Mac, as well as the audience, as number five of her memorable heartbreak.
Zoe Kravitz is our guide on this complicated and raw journey, and I would have it no other way. She was born to play this part. Literally. The daughter of Lisa Bonet, who I thought and still think is the coolest woman to ever grace this planet, and Lenny “Are You Gonna Go My Way with a Giant Knitted Scarf” Kravitz, Zoe Kravitz possesses that cool demeanor that isn’t artificial or off-putting. If that wasn’t enough, her talent supersedes her birthright.
She delicately balances Rob’s selfishness and kindheartedness, as well as the character’s strength and vulnerability. This Rob is beautifully flawed but for every mistake she makes (and she makes more than a few), she learns, finds her footing, and we are quick to forgive.
Rule #3: Have Amazing Backup
Sure, it’s Rob’s story but this High Fidelity shines light on those in Rob’s world, especially record shop employees Simon (David H. Holmes) and Cherise (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). Their passion and knowledge for music rivals that of Rob’s, but it’s their care and loyalty to the store and its owner that makes us wish we could be a part of that record shop.
Each of them is looking for something. Cherise is looking for her musical moment, an opportunity to show the world her talent. Simon is on the search for love. The show even takes a breather from Rob’s journey, and gives us an entire episode about Simon that is both heartbreaking and reassuring, and only adds to our love for these characters. Dear Hulu, we need an entire Cherise episode in the next season (please, let there be a next season) because I would kill for that character.
While watching all three actors together, you feel a sense of chemistry and camaraderie that was born out of years of being in each other’s world. It isn’t forced or fake, and we are left to feel that these are people who would do anything for each other.
Rule #4: Remember The Real Star
Of course it’s the music. Honestly, I’m just praying Hulu releases a soundtrack and it’s only on vinyl, forcing me to finally embrace my inner hipster and buy a record player.
There’s not just one musical genre for this show. High Fidelity embraces everything from hip hop to punk, rock to new wave. Each song’s placement perfectly encapsulates the emotions of the scene. British punk band Satan’s Rats “You Make Me Sick,” plays while Rob still reels over her fifth most memorable heartbreak. She’s miserable and angry, and struggling to convince herself, as well as us, that she’s totally fine. The song’s fitful beat mirrors Rob’s nerves and unease over being alone.
The best musical moment? Debbie Harry’s cameo as Rob’s subconscious, dancing around and speaking lyrics from Blondie’s “Once I Had a Love,” reaffirming Rob’s plan to contact her exes. My musical subconscious? Alanis Morissette for obvious reasons.
Rule #5: It’s Okay Not To Be Perfect
Is this show perfect? Compared to John Cusack’s cinematic Rob – who exuded passion for music – there are times that Zoe Kravitz’s Rob comes off as flippant about her musical tastes. More than often, she’s more calm and collected about her mixtape theories and musical choices, which is fine, but she’s even more focused and frazzled over her abysmal love life. In fact, we see more of a passion for music from Cherise than we do from Rob. Don’t get me wrong – the passion is still there but this Rob is more distracted by her life beyond the record shop.
And perhaps, that’s the point. This Rob can control the music, put on what she needs, organize the playlist in such a way that communicates her feelings in a way she can’t or provides her a brief moment of escape. She can start, pause, and stop a song anytime she wants. She can’t do that with life and people; they’re completely out of her control and it becomes her obsession. In this way, perhaps we’re getting a more realistic Rob, someone we could easily identify with.
No matter the short-comings, Hulu’s High Fidelity hits all the right notes and definitely deserves its spot right alongside its predecessors.
Watch High Fidelity now on Hulu.
Julie believes great books should be read more than once and prides herself on finding the "dirty part" in any romance novel under a minute. Loves red wine but loves it more when shared with friends. Has an (embarrassingly) extensive knowledge about all things Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl. Is currently curating the perfect playlists that ALWAYS include a song from one of the Twilight soundtracks.