What do you get when you mix together a moody, confused and narcissistic record store owner, a Brooklyn-based backdrop that comes straight down from the romantic comedy heavens and enough musical and pop-cultural references to make your head spin in circles?
A great remix, one of Hulu’s best shows, and a trip down lover’s lane you won’t soon forget.
“High Fidelity” stars up-and-coming household name Zoë Kravitz as Rob Brooks, a gender-swapped version of the character John Cusack made famous in the 2000 film adaptation of the 1995 Nick Hornby novel.
Still the lonely owner of Championship Vinyl, Rob spends most of her days wandering the Crown Heights, the Brooklyn neighborhood, spending time with her coworker friends Simon (David H. Holmes) and Cherice (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) and reflecting on past loves of her life. She wastes the moments in between thinking about how to make the perfect playlist and endlessly wonders why things didn’t work out with her ex-fiancé and number five spot on her running “most memorable heartbreaks” list, Mac, played by Kingsley Ben-Adir.
All the while navigating potential for a new relationship with “nice guy” Clyde (Jake Lacy), Rob learns that Mac has moved back to New York after fleeing to London – bringing back a new fiancé and even more heartache as she desperately tries to move ahead and put the past behind her. It’s definitely a hang-out vibe, vision quest watch more than anything, and if you love watching someone self-destruct right before your own eyes – it’s a journey you’ll enjoy.
While Chicago gets swapped for an upbeat, contemporary New York, small parts that made the film successful get carried over and transformed enough to keep us compelled– especially in the case of Rob’s deadpan, fourth-wall breaking monologues. Dispersed across the episodes and providing necessary background for the character’s personality, her turns toward the camera will make viewers laugh, cry and ultimately sympathize with the notion of heartbreak.
Show creators and writers Veronica West and Sarah Kucserka continue to provide great pieces of snarky, sarcastic dialogue for many characters to chew through, especially as reluctant customers visit Vinyl and find themselves rebuked for whatever tastes in music they hold.
Definitively highlighted by a laugh-out-loud scene in which Cherice encourages a woman (at all costs) to avoid buying “Off the Wall” by Michael Jackson, the obsessive aspects of dedicated music fandom definitely find a modern way to carry over and resonate with hardcore fans. Don’t let those ideas scare you away though. From David Bowie to Fleetwood Mac, huge music follower or not, you won’t get lost in the shuffle– it’s about what you like, not what you’re like.
None of these retreads work without Kravitz’s star-making depiction of female Rob, stepping out of the pseudo-hippie vibes she gave as Bonnie on “Big Little Lies” and truly shining inside her first starring performance on television. The daughter of musician Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet, Zoë slides into the role of Rob with ease – blending a mixture of hilarious, mocking views towards the modern generation with a strong sense of arrested development that leaps right off the screen.
These lighter moments get coupled with several flashes of vulnerability and tenderness across the season when looking back upon failed romantic endeavors, a few of which could make even the most cold-hearted cynic feel for the character.
Nonetheless, Kravitz churns out some of the best work I’ve seen so far in her career. Her performance alone deserves all the solo screen time she earns in just ten half-hour episodes, encouraging viewers to follow the advice she gives – stick around, there might be more here than what you thought.
Even though plans to bring the show back have not been formally announced yet, the story offers growth potential for both Cherice and Simon moving forward. Underlined by a late season episode in which the perspective flips toward Simon’s character, the shake-up serves as a nice launching point for future seasons, reminding us that maybe Rob – not other people – might be the source of the problem behind her missed connections. Coupled with Cherice’s dreams of becoming a famous musician but struggling to find others who buy into her “vision,” this “Fidelity” expands the arcs beyond those the movie laid for them, remixing not rehashing.
Binge-watchers, you can rejoice. “High Fidelity” plays all the classic hits and adds a few more, making it one of the funniest, resonant and most enjoyable shows to come out so far in 2020.
You can find all ten episodes of “High Fidelity” available for streaming right now on Hulu.