High Fidelity (2020)

Television Series #4:

“High Fidelity” (2020) is the modernized and re-gendered remake of Stephen Frears 2000 film (adapted from Nick Hornby’s beloved 1995 novel), starring John Cusack, Jack Black, and Iben Hjejle with special appearances by none other than Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lisa Bonet. Now, for it’s twenty year anniversary, we were gifted a delightfully refreshed take on the same themes with Bonet’s daughter, the too-cool and way too good looking, but we love her for it, Zoë Kravitz. She is Rob i.e, Robyn Brooks, a millennial hip-kid who owns a record store, where she employs her best friends, Simon and Cherise (David H. Holmes & Da’Vine Joy Randolph respectively), and romps around Brooklyn wearing a composition of thrifted looks that only she could pull off.

Despite all her natural charisma, Rob has the familiar problem of hopping from one failed relationship after another, most of which she spends far too much time dwelling on and all of which she blames herself for their demise. Just like its predecessor, we follow Rob down her rabbit hole, where she indulges her own tale of woe by revisiting the “Five Great Heartbreaks” of her life in order to decipher what went wrong. We start with her childhood “boyfriend” and end with her most recent ex-fiancé, whose presence back in town sparks the spiral in the first place.

The ultimate differentiator between this show and any other romantic comedy series out there at the moment is its impeccable soundtrack. Woven throughout the series seamlessly, through Rob’s efforts to make the *perfect* playlist or her wallowing sessions in her living room, the music sets the show ablaze with the sounds of acoustic Debby Harry (who even makes an appearance in one episode) and Ann Peebles reverberating 1970’s flare, but then taps into international music, modern hip hop and indie rock and roll. When speaking to popular music publication Indiewire about this, co-creator Sarah Kucserka said, “These people sit in a record store all day every day. They’re listening to everything. To make it feel like there’s one genre of music or, or one time period of music that is all that we’ve listened to, would feel inauthentic. It was very cool that at the end of the season, we had a song from every single continent.”

There are plenty of take-away little lessons in the series, but the show is designed for the long-game. It is not an anthology and does not necessarily tie a bow on Rob’s quest for love. She grows, but only in small ways, and when she takes three steps forwards, she often follows it with two backwards. But she develops confidence and perspective, something that she failed to embrace in the past. Unfortunately, it was not renewed for a Season 2, and therefore, it will remain shelved in the time capsule of its ten-episode run, left to be enjoyed by fans through rewatches. Further, the majority of the leads were BIPOC, and at a time when we’re striving to get more on-screen representation, it is disappointing that Hulu decided to scrap this one, limiting the opportunity it provided to see nuanced non-white characters exist outside of the typical stock characters to which they are often confined.

Luckily, it is difficult to ever get sick of listening to the fresh tunes, Rob and her friends quirky fashion and Kingsley Ben-Adir’s face. Enjoy streaming on Hulu and highly recommend downloading Rob’s playlist.

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