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High Fidelity pushes back on the notion that appreciating music is a man's domain

  • Some critics have complained that the gender-flipped Hulu series is too close to Nick Hornby's 1995 novel and the 2000 John Cusack movie. But as Jen Chaney points out, that's a good thing because "the culture around us has reinforced the notion that music and the appreciation of it are a man’s domain." She adds: "As I’ve digested the series, I’ve realized the similarities are what actually make the gender flipping so powerful. Not only is (Zoë Kravitz's) Rob now a woman, but in this incarnation, two of the three Championship Vinyl employees are also women. That’s a better ratio than in any of the music-industry jobs cited in that Annenberg study. Those two women care about rock, hip-hop, and pop and discuss them with as much fervor as the men did in the novel and the movie. Some of the dialogue is even the same, because guess what: It’s totally believable and normal that a woman would think and express herself the way a man might." Chaney points out that Generation X's love language was pop-culture, whether it came to films, books or TV. "But that love language also tended to be spoken and interpreted most often by men," says Chaney. "I remember actively thinking as a young writer that I wanted to be the female Nick Hornby, while at the same time being uncertain that such a thing was possible. I didn’t think there was space for me to write the kinds of things he did. Fast-forward a few decades and here we are, looking at a High Fidelity TV show in which Rob is quite literally the daughter of Marie De Salle (Lisa Bonet is Kravitz’s mother in real life) and it’s possible for this Rob, who is also sexually fluid, to have the same concerns that Hornby Rob and Cusack Rob possessed. She’s just as self-involved and noncommittal and just as obsessed with music and creating playlists that build and crescendo at exactly the right moments."


    • High Fidelity fails to imagine a real world where women are into records: "Women of color can, of course, own record stores and be self-involved and treat exes like characters in their story instead of autonomous beings, just like the stunted men of High Fidelity past," says Maria Sherman. "And if the Hulu incarnation managed to make that clear, it would’ve become the rare example of why gender-swapped reboots should exist: to highlight how people who aren’t men exist in traditionally male-dominated spaces. This remake doesn’t do that. Instead, Kravitz’s talents are squandered by a script that treats identity like a superficial detail used to modernize an archaic plot, the same way the show too plainly replaces mixtapes with Spotify playlists. The storyline is identical to the originals, and for that reason, it mostly fails to charm."
    • Zoë Kravitz's Rob is great in how messy her character is: "Rob is the perfect balance between a thoughtful snob and a neglectful best friend, which is so fun to see in a Black lead," says Princess Weekes. "While I question a world where people can willingly reject Zoë Kravitz, the movie makes it clear that her romantic idealism is both a blessing and a curse. She’s longing for someone to make her feel whole, especially because so many of her partners have rejected her for reasons that made her feel inadequate. Considering that most of her partners were white, and the person she felt the most complete with was another Black person, I think that there is something to be examined there (hopefully in a second season). Yet, she also self-sabotages this relationship the moment it gets too complicated and fails to take full responsibility."
    • Jake Lacy didn't want to be "the nice guy" on High Fidelity: "I was like, ‘Look, I've done these roles where I complete an arc and I'm left to be a little bit two-dimensional, or shapeshifting into whatever the other character needs of me, without ever being fleshed out in a way that feels consistently true to the character,’” Lacy tells GQ. “They were like, ‘Yeah, we don't want to do that here.’ And for my money, they kept their word throughout the season. He is still a nice guy. But maybe he's a good guy and not a nice guy.”
    • High Fidelity's biggest disappointment in the show is that it tried too hard to re-create specific moments from the movies that just don’t work
    • Why David Bowie has the biggest presence on the High Fidelity soundtrack
    • Zoë Kravitz and Nick Hornby discuss becoming playlist buddies

    TOPICS: High Fidelity, Hulu, David Bowie, Jake Lacy, John Cusack, Nick Hornby, Zoë Kravitz, Music and TV