Hulu’s series adaptation of High Fidelity starts streaming on February 14th from ABC Signature Productions. Touchstone Pictures famously adapted the 1995 novel by Nick Hornby in 2000 in a film version starring John Cusack and Jack Black. This 10-episode retelling is set in modern times and gender flips the main character which helps set it apart from the original while still retaining the same spirit and vibe.
Robin, aka Rob (Zoë Kravitz, X-Men: First Class), is a single record store owner in New York City who is thrown off guard when the love of her life (Kingsley Ben-Adir, Noelle) moves back into town as she juggles dating two guys, the nicer than average Clyde (Jake Lacey, Fosse/Verdon) and the young musician Liam (Thomas Doherty, Descendants 2). She routinely makes the wrong decisions in her dating life, a history that eternally repeats itself.
Breaking the fourth wall, Rob will routinely look directly at you to give some exposition. It’s actually how the entire series starts and a plot device that doesn’t always work well. Other characters take turns giving direct backstory as well, including Rob’s gay ex boyfriend who works for her now. He’s one of her two best friends/employees, brilliantly played by Da'Vine Joy Randolph and David H. Holmes.
Zoë Kravitz is instantly likeable, but what really drew me into the series at first was Da'Vine Joy Randolph as her loud and boisterous employee who shows up to work a day late and blasts her Monday morning playlist on Tuesday. Mixtapes were a big part of the original film, replaced here by playlists through a variety of characters. Each of the employee’s get their own character-centric episodes towards the end of the season which feels a little incongruous when you think about it, but by that point in the series you’re ready for it and it comes at a time when Rob reveals a quality about herself that is almost unredeeming.
As expected, High Fidelity has an awesome and diverse soundtrack. Within the first ten minutes, Rob and Clyde have a deep conversation about Fleetwood Mac. A lot of David Bowie gets cycled through, including my favorite of his songs, “Modern Love.” Weezer becomes a running joke, as does Michael Jackson in a scene where a white girl wants to buy one of his records and the store refuses to sell it despite having it in stock. But you’ll find Janet Jackson in the mix and even a Celine Dion song crudely sung during a karaoke scene. Questlove serves as Executive Music Producer and provides a fun mixed bag where any genre and time period can suddenly become relevant in the series.
Ultimately, High Fidelity is a dramedy series about a young woman on the verge of turning thirty living a relatively carefree life amidst a few heartbreaks. She’s learning lessons at her own pace a little behind the conventional schedule and recognizing her wrongdoings, attempting to make amends. It’s a show about the ups and downs of life and love with fun characters and a soundtrack that slaps.
I give High Fidelity 5 out of 5 bottles of “Unicorn juice.”
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.