February 27, 2020 

By Lapacazo Sandoval


Contributing Writer 


In Hulu’s High Fidelity, now playing, we follow business owner Rob (Zoë Kravitz), the owner of Championship Vinyl, a record store that feels like its stuck in time. There is a hint to the tone of the show — hip and music-focused.


This 2020 version is an adaption of Nick Hornby’s novel (1995), which was first made into a film starring John Cusack, in 2000, then followed by a failed Broadway musical.


Hulu’s High Fidelity is not a remake more like a funky, fun, modern and entertaining cover of the, now, classic original. It’s different and in my opinion, it’s better.


This version is created by Veronica West and Sarah Kucserka, experienced writers who have worked on shows like Ugly Betty, Chicago Fire, and Bull.


As the Hulu series begins, Rob (aka Robin) is still hurting from her recent break-up with fiancé Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and taking a deep dive into why all of her romances have failed.


Following the path of the Robs before her, she decides to hunt down the five most significant exes in her life to figure out what she did wrong. Like the previous Robs, she is a music-head, a pop-music expert whose apartment is filled top-to-bottom with records which speak to her mind which is filled with pop-culture references. It’s correct to say that her sense of culture and her life is almost entirely by music.


Rob’s record store is more than just her business, it’s her life. And it’s also the location where she argues with her two hilarious co-workers, Simon (David H. Holmes) and Cherise (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) about playlists.


Simon is the sturdy one who represents the LGBTQ community. Cherise, African-American, is an aspiring musician with a fast-mouth and vibrant personality so big that Steve Wonder would not miss it. For the record, Rob is a sexually fluid woman of color and of course, one of her top-five exes is a woman.


Rob isn’t perfect. She suffers from a fear of commitment, is obsessed with the past, and is often very self-involved.


There is something charming about the dialogue which sings, like a song and it’s funny. The Hulu series expands the narrative with each episode being able to stand alone. 


In the original movie that Rob is determined to win back his former girlfriend. In this version, our lovely Rob, still aching for Mac, ventures into casual dating. Her most significant date is with nice guy Clyde (Jake Lacy).


What I love about this series is that I get to look into the lives of other interesting characters. To wit, we get to learn about Simon’s top-five breakups which include all that he’s experienced with his first serious boyfriend after coming out.


Rob, like most of us, is constantly using her cell phone, but alone she choices to listen to music on her turntable. She’s modern but also old-fashioned and not well-versed in social media; when she finds one of her exes’ Instagram profiles she doesn’t understand what the blue checkmark means. A quirky character flaw but odd that she doesn’t track down all of her former loves via social media sliding into their DM. None the less Rob’s journey makes interesting TV watching.


Hulu’s High Fidelity as a series digs into the impact that the five ex-lovers have had on Rob. And, as each installment is introduced the story grows stronger. One of the funniest and poignant episodes is when Rob, and Clyde, go to view a record collection sale given by an


Upper East Side artist (She’s played by Parker Posey) as an act of revenge against her husband, not a nice man.


Finally, when Rob and Clyde meet the husband he assumes Rob (a woman) can’t follow a deep conversation about music, choosing to move the conversation toward Clyde. In this #MeToo atmosphere where women are still being paid less than men in the same jobs, this ongoing exploration as told through music is priceless.


Here’s a fact. A lot of Hulu’s audience is young and most like doesn’t have a connection to the aforementioned novel or movie which brings me to a bigger point. A lot of these young viewers don’t have a personal connection with records. And yet, and here is a nod to the writer’s room you, because you have a connection to Rob’s universe. Kravitz is a big reason why. She speaks from her heart when she addresses the camera and she’s cool and that makes her nagging, self-doubt that much more powerful.


Kravitz delivers kindness along with vulnerability and sadness. She connects with all of us who, at one time or another, I wager, has felt broken and misunderstood.


Also one of the great performers in Hulu’s High Fidelity is actress Da'Vine Joy Randolph, from Dolemite Is My Name fame. From the first moment we see her, which is in episode one, she unleashes her personality through song, adding that “Come On Eileen” is “is dope as shit!”


Is she comic relief? Yes, she is. Is she needed? Yes, she is. Is she welcome? Yes, yes she is. 


Now to the music. The soundtrack broadens the series, thanks to the superlative choices made by music supervisors Manish Raval, Alison Rosenfeld, and Tom Wolfe. It’s a whos-who including music by Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Nina Simone, Outkast, and Frank Ocean and the list goes on.


And hats off to the creative choices that emphasized the diverse world that Rob lives in no matter who self-centered she is while dealing with her heartbreak.


Hulu’s High Fidelity has created a character who wants to be loved and is willing to go through the fire to make that happen.


High Fidelity on Hulu. Ten episodes (all screened for review). Starring Zoë Kravitz, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, David H. Holmes, Jake Lacy, and Kingsley Ben-Adir.

Category: Arts & Culture