Film / TV

the new ‘high fidelity’ reimagines ‘the fuckboy’

February 17, 2020
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My introduction to High Fidelity was not with the book nor the original movie but instead Hulu’s new series based off the film. In my defense, I was five when it came out. Despite the eye rolls this may cause, I am happy to have had the opportunity to take in the series without previous opinions on its earlier renderings. I would call the show a success, serving as a good ambassador for the film by leaving me wanting to go back and see the original.

High Fidelity
came highly anticipated for many reasons: its original iterations, its series lead Zoë Kravitz (whose mother was in the film) and that the show gender-swapped its main character with Kravitz playing the lead role initially written for a man. Ten episodes long, the series is instantly memorable for its wardrobe, soundtrack, and celebration of a Black woman being a total fuckboy. 

The original film, made in 2000, starred John Cusak, Iben Hjejle, Jack Black, Todd Louiso, and Lisa Bonet. Based upon and named after Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel, High Fidelity follows record store owner Rob, as he recounts his top five heartbreaks while in the midst of his most current one. As opposed to the book’s setting in London, and the films setting in Chicago, the series is set in Brooklyn. 

While the series is set in a seemingly normal Brooklyn, I think it is really a fantastical New York that presented itself often in the ’90s and ’00s. It is similar to shows like Sex and the City in its ability to make smoking charming and have people believe they can live their New York dream in large spacious apartments. Where it reveals its modernity is in the moments it alludes to the quickly gentrified Brooklyn it exists in, and that Black people appear in this universe (Woah), not to mention in its topical conversations tackling mansplaining or what cancel culture means for music. 

I have seen a few comments wondering why a classic had to be remade, yet again. This sentiment has good reason —it seems in these times, previously celebrated stories are retold every five minutes with little heart because Hollywood knows it will profit on this nostalgic cash cow. High Fidelity should not be lumped in with the retellings that lack heart, this iteration of it finds its own value in the gender role swap. The visual of a Black woman who doesn’t give a fuck is still rare. Watching the series, I am not left with the impression that the show was made because it was an easy get but instead to help fill a void Black women have oftentimes been left out of — one that allows us to be self-centered assholes. While Rob is of course, more complex than that, we get to watch her operate in a way typically reserved for men. It is liberating to see a series lead who is a woman that does not need to be sweet and docile but instead messy and harsh.