It is difficult to think of an actress cooler than Zoë Kravitz. She is the daughter of an acting icon (Lisa Bonet) and a rock star with the ability to pull off the largest scarf known to man (Lenny Kravitz). Her step-dad is Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) and they present at award shows together. Before ever stepping onto the set of Big Little Lies or 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road, Kravitz found indie musical success with a bad named Lolawolf. She didn’t share the details of her wedding on social media until almost seven months after the fact. She is Catwoman.
Kravitz leads High Fidelity as Rob Brooks, the gender-flipped version of John Cusack’s Rob Gordon in High Fidelity the 2000 movie (a character inspired by the protagonist of Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel of the same name). 2020 Rob and 2000 Rob have a lot in common. They both run New York City record stores with two misfit employees (in Hulu Rob’s case they are played by the charming David H. Holmes and Dolemite Is My Name breakout Da'Vine Joy Randolph). Rob and Rob are both obsessed with top five lists, They both begin their journey smarting from a breakup. They are both completely, almost comically terrible at love — and try to fix that problem by interviewing their exes.
Yet, Hulu’s High Fidelity is at its best when it breaks from its 2000 source material — which means you don't need to be familiar with any book or movie to enjoy these 30-minute episodes. As we’ve come to realize over the last two decades, the original High Fidelity film is defined by its decision to turn a self-obsessed manipulator and general jerk into a hero. Kravitz’s Rob is not perfect, but she doesn't suffer from the same severe personality ills. Instead, this is a story of a woman who is offered a perfect life with a perfect man — now-ex-boyfriend Mac, played by The OA British cutie pie Kingsley Ben-Adir — and chooses to burn it all down.
It’s particularly thrilling to see Kravitz subvert the darkness of her Rob predecessor since her mother, Lisa Bonet, played one of his conquests 20 years ago.
High Fidelity follows Kravitz’s Rob as she tries to figure out why she would reject such a wonderful relationship. Kravitz luxuriates in Rob’s search, as she tries to grow past Mac while also holding onto the idea of him tighter and tighter. High Fidelity’s premiere, “Top Five Heartbreaks” begins with Mac’s excruciating flight from Rob’s apartment and subsequently New York. But this is a TV show, and TV shows need tension. Mac can't stay away for long.
No matter how sad Rob is about Mac, a catch like can't stay single forever in a romantic comedy (while High Fidelity is a comedy and can be romantic, it is not a sunny “rom-com” by any means). Rob’s other flirtations are so dreamily New York they may make you scream from jealousy. On one hand, there is Clyde (classic modern boyfriend actor Jake Lacy), a man who could easily fall into the same toxic Nice Guy trope as Cusack’s original Rob. However, Clyde is thoughtful, respectful, and in awe of his love interest, whereas OG Rob believed that incessantly calling an ex-girlfriend was the height of romance. Then there is Liam (Thomas Doherty), a devastatingly handsome young Scottish musician. Liam is so good looking that his portrayer, Thomas Doherty, also plays a vampire on the CW.
It is likely Rob’s adventures — and misadventures — with her love interests will be the parts of High Fidelity that stick with you, rather than the series’ decidedly un-millennial, jarringly anachronistic music snobbery. Rob’s trip to the Upper East side with Clyde shows off their chemistry and confirms Clyde as a viable romantic option. It also gives character actress Park Posey a chance to shine in the best guest appearance of the series. On the other side of the romance equation, all moments with Liam feel like a sexy Thirst Aid Kit podcast fantasy come to life.
Through all of these scenes, Rob exudes impeccable downtown chic, even if the only thing on her body is a tank dance she definitely picked up from the floor of her sprawling apartment. Rob's life may be a mess, but you may still want to grow up to be her — if only to share her gait, which is powered by all the mythological confidence of New York City, and then some.
So if you need to distract yourself form your own romantic foibles, watch High Fidelity. It just might be one of your top five binges this winter.