For those looking for a niche TV show full of neon lights and cannabis-fueled destructive choices in a grunge Brooklyn setting, you’re in luck.
Hulu dropped the first season of “High Fidelity,” a 2020 remake of the 2000 original movie of the same name, on Feb. 14.
The 10-episode season follows the same storyline of the original, but with Zoë Kravitz in the main role and David H. Holmes and Da’Vine Joy Randolph as supporting characters. However, the remake takes the campy feel of the movie’s physical and over-the-top humor, and turns it into something more mature and relatable.
The gender-bent remake switches tones from the original, starring Kravitz as Robyn “Rob” Brooks, a pathologically overthinking queer African-American owner of a record shop in Brooklyn, New York. The first episode starts about a year in the past, as Rob and her fiance Mac are in the midst of an intense argument. The heightened emotions set the tone for the rest of the season, which follows Rob as she experiences the highs and lows of romantic relationships.
Like in the movie, Rob speaks to the camera and breaks the fourth wall by treating the camera as a documentary crew following her day-to-day life in New York. In the first episode, “Top Five Heartbreaks,” Rob recounts the former romantic interests of her life.
The show mostly takes place within Rob’s record store, Championship Vinyl, so it is no surprise each episode is littered with a strong soundtrack. Classics from David Bowie and Prince, to Frank Ocean and Swamp Dogg, each play a specific role in cementing the melancholic drudgery of life.
The music flips from diegetic to non-diegetic, meaning the soundtrack transitions from being solely for the audience to music the characters can hear as well. This works to pull the audience more fully into the show to make them care about the characters.
Artistic choices in camera angles, such as close-ups of characters’ faces in aesthetic neon lighting, heighten the sense of reality to the show. Bright teal and glowing ember yellow cast flattering lights on a new romantic interest Rob meets in a bar. The Scottish heartthrob, Liam, whose sex appeal oozes out his glacial blue eyes is easy to fall in love with — Rob herself catches feelings.
It’s a bit of a labor of love to plod through the middle episodes, which seem to lose direction as Rob explores new relationships. However, things start to pick up again when she begins to evaluate her personal flaws near the eighth episode.
Rampant alcohol and nicotine abuse make Rob hard to love, as many of her problems are caused by her own self-destructive and often easily changeable choices. However, it is easy to sympathize with her when one recalls their questionable choices.
One puzzling choice pops up in the second to last episode, when the attention switches to Simon, Rob’s friend, co-worker and ex-boyfriend. The two broke up when Simon came out, so the episode follows him as he reminisces on his top five heartbreaks and attempts to start a relationship with a new crush.
It feels a bit out of nowhere, as Simon hasn’t been a central character in previous episodes. However, the show switches focus back to Rob toward the final episodes.
“High Fidelity” does well in linking past to present, blurring the lines between today and memory. In this way, the show reflects real life, which often makes it painful to see all the grief each character experiences as they navigate relationships, platonic or romantic.
With no news of a second season, the last episode left ends untied. In the final episode, Rob begins a painful journey toward emotional maturity, so it would be fulfilling to see her grow in a future season.