The new Hulu reboot starring Zoë Kravitz can not negate the insufferable masculinity of the book and also movie.

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John Cusack in the 2000 film version of High Fidelity, and Zoë Kravitz in the new reboot. Kravitz photo by Phillip Caruso.
It is precious remembering, particularly right now, the High Fidelity to be never just a story around record save nerds ranking your days away. Component of what made Nick Hornby’s 1995 novel such a hit, leading to a 2000 movie adaptation, to be its uncensored view into the psyche that stunted, self-pitying, supposedly sensitive straight guys who obsess over stuff. This basic male-ness was well-noted in reviews at the time. “Hornby’s publications reveal a fascination v the slim voodoo the what so often passes as masculinity: the weird ritual facts, the useless objects...” wrote The brand-new Yorker, if lad mag Details was a bit blunter: “Keep this book away from her girlfriend—it contains too countless of your secrets to let it fall into the wrong hands.” Those secrets encompass a deep fear of sexual inadequacy, consisting of a passage where the record-store owner protagonist plunder self-deprecatingly longs because that his father’s era, because earlier then a guy wasn’t expected to do a woman cum. Yes sir another, more famous part where this same middle-aged man feels the have to warn other males that females don’t wear sexy underwear 24/7.


Hornby’s book is laden v Rob’s interior monologues, which room boiled down to a few key philosophies ceded straight come the camera by john Cusack in the movie: yes the link in between being sad and also loving pop music (“What come first, the misery or the music?”), the rule for correctly sequencing a mixtape, and the guiding principle the you space what friend culturally consume.

The rom-com format also emphasizes Rob’s search to track down his “Top 5 All-Time many Memorable Heartbreaks,” starting with a girl the made out with for 2 afternoons in middle school, who apparently married the next boy she kissed. Later, plunder meets up through his high college girlfriend and asks why she slept with another guy so conveniently after they damaged up, since she was such a prude v him. She reminds Rob that he actually broke up with her and also reveals that she was “too worn down to struggle off, and it wasn’t rape, because I said OK, but it wasn’t far off,” adding that she didn’t have actually sex for many years afterward. Come which rob responds, quoting the book verbatim, “That’s one more one ns don’t have actually to issue about. I should have done this year ago.” His pathetic need to understand why these women dumped him presumes the they owe him some type of explanation, frequently at their very own expense.


Now 20 years after the movie, High Fidelity has been rebooted as a 10-episode Hulu series centered approximately a woman—a woman called Rob (short because that Robin). She played by Zoë Kravitz, who at least looks way cooler in a baggy animal leather jacket and also beat-up Dickies tee 보다 Cusack ever before did. Still, I discovered myself wondering just how the show would resolve the outdated facets of its source material. Would Kravitz fall ugly truth-bombs around women in the same way that the book did about men, or be compelled to revolve her tastes into “Top 5” lists? and could this ode come music superfandom really obtain away with not acknowledging the development of streaming?


Kravitz, it turns out, provides for a much more dynamic, likeable Rob. She still owns Championship Vinyl, a forever empty supplied record keep (this time in Brooklyn), where she employs two other pop-culture junkies that channel your passions in madness divergent ways (Da’Vine happiness Randolph and also David H. Holmes, both in heart-filled, star-making turns). Their people is strewn through useless trivia indigenous the High Fidelity universe—the type of details these characters might obsess over, only turned right into easter eggs: The key hangout is a bar called DeSalle’s, as in Marie DeSalle, the singer-songwriter personality once shown by Kravitz’s mom, Lisa Bonet. The show’s musical canon centers approximately classic artists favor David Bowie, who something of a spiritual guide to Rob, along with Prince and Fleetwood Mac. Echoing a memorable scene from the movie, there space multiple nods come folktronica group the Beta Band, and also a minute where castle remake said scene through a song by outsider symbol Swamp Dogg.


There space other modern-day updates to vital comedic bits together well, some more eye-roll-inducing than others. The out-of-touch dad that comes in trying to find “tacky, sentimental crap” choose Stevie Wonder’s “I Just dubbed to Say ns Love You” because that his daughter is replaced by a mrs trying to buy Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall for her boyfriend. (Rob says that that OK due to the fact that the album is as much the occupational of producer Quincy Jones together it is MJ.) when debating whether to cancel an excellent artists that did really bad points is certainly top that mind this days, it’s not exactly a conversation that lends chin to laughs. And just favor the movie, there are straight quotes indigenous Hornby’s publication in the script (the author served together an executive producer, alongside Kravitz, the team behind Ugly Betty, and more).


The collection opens a year after a damaging breakup, simply as Rob’s putting herself the end there again. Her ex Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir) is ago in town and also engaged, i beg your pardon prompts a similar search for previous relationship closure together the resource material. In the start of the season, Kravitz’s character’s personality seems a lot favor the Robs the the past: self-involved, privately sentimental and not-so-secretly sad (there are so plenty of shots of she poutily smoking and listening come records), equally terrified of commitment and loneliness. When Rob’s journey in vault versions available only slight an individual progress (with his off-on girlfriend Laura in reality facilitating much of the change), Kravitz’s Rob shows the real-life challenges and also vulnerabilities that self-improvement. Through the critical episode, she taken the an initial steps toward treating the people in her life better, and also makes a decision the plants her firmly spicy forward.


A generous reading might think about the show a corrective come the original, an especially because women, human being of color, and queer folks now work the stacks at Championship Vinyl. A an ext skeptical take it is that also this well-meaning transition is morally suspect. Together the New York Times’ Amanda Hess wrote 2 years earlier of Hollywood’s thirst for gender-flipped remakes, “These reboots need women come relive men’s stories rather of fashioning their own. And they’re subtly expected to deal with these old films, to neutralize your sexism and also infuse them with feminism, come rebuild them into good movies with an excellent politics, too. They have to do every little thing the guys did, other than backwards and with ideals.” Why spend all this time, money, and also energy to update and an altering the sex on resource material that, in hindsight, is nice dodgy about women? Is High Fidelity really so beloved (or that is brand surname so powerful) that they couldn’t have actually started from scratch on a series about music obsessives who aren’t solely straight white men? What is the point of payment homage to all this ephemera?

There’s a certain strain of toxic masculinity the lurks underneath the surface of, and also is core to, the music fandom in High Fidelity. It’s the sort where males who struggle with conveying their feelings rotate to their document collections as emotional assistance blankets. Castle dole the end their music understanding like baseball-card statistics and treat women as fair-weather fans that don’t even know the rules. (Many women movie critics I understand prefer no to publicly rank your favorite music, i beg your pardon likely has actually something to perform with exactly how we’ve to be condescended come in the past.) It doesn’t exactly help that the movie—arguably the first quintessentially ’00s-hipster rom-com—was successful sufficient to rotate this argumentative mode of listenership into a full-blown cliché.


Reading High Fidelity recently, ns noticed that practically all the women characters were regarded as exterior the realm of record-collecting. Love interests need a recalibration of taste (timid shop employee Dick’s new lady friend can’t possibly continue to be a simple Minds fan), or a convey (Rob’s music journalist crush requirements to it is in schooled on peak 5 list distinctions). End the food of the book, Rob essentially schools girlfriend Laura to know the differences between “good” pop music (“authentic,” soulful, largely old and also American) and “bad” popular music music (Tina Turner, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells), distinctions the by today’s poptimist standards seem positively arbitrary. (Which the show, come its credit, appears to realize: Tina Turner’s Private Dancer is on display screen behind the cash register, alongside Jay Reatard’s Matador Singles ’08 and Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin.)


With every this in mind, it’s difficult to also enjoy the series’ transforming point, the minute when the dawns on rob that maybe she do not do it be such an asshole. The currently arrives, favor a seed being planted, in ~ the end of the episode “Uptown,” which turns a five-page passage in the book and a deleted scene indigenous the movie into one that the season’s centerpieces. A woman calls Championship Vinyl saying she’s offering a record collection, for this reason Rob and her kinda-boyfriend Clyde (Jake Lacy) walk uptown to check it out. The woman, a performance artist delightfully played by Parker Posey, is providing up her husband’s prized collection—likely worth 10s of thousands of dollars—for a mere $20, as a theoretical stunt seek revenge for his infidelity. Plunder isn’t sure what come do, so she and also Clyde go under to the an elaborate hotel wherein the cheating husband is staying, in an attempt to casually discover if this guy without doubt sucks. Turns out he’s even worse 보다 expected.

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Played through Jeffrey Nordling, aka Laura Dern’s spectacular man-child the a husband in Big tiny Lies, the dude is a total shitheel, replete with a midlife-crisis ponytail and also a young girlfriend that doesn’t speak. He cut off Rob in ~ every turn, name-dropping absent stars and also talking solely at Clyde. That all concerns a head once Rob difficulties him on the relax year the Wings’ live album Wings across America; she knows it’s 1976. “No, sweetpea, you’re wrong,” states the smug jackass, who’s sticking by 1984 as the answer. What comes next is, briefly, among the ideal moments in the whole first season: plunder flexes her understanding by critiquing the LP’s backing vocal overdubs (“At what allude is a live album not a live album?”) and praising its variation of “Maybe i’m Amazed.” Kravitz plays it perfectly, conference the man’s farming indignance with an unbothered coolness. Ponytail guy responds by transforming to Clyde and saying, “You’ve got yourself rather a little firecracker there, don’t you pal? word of advice: It’s every cute now but it gets old fast, to trust me.”

Rob should absolutely to buy this man’s records at a deep discount—both since she owns a freaking record store in this musical economy, and also because the deserves it. Yet she bails at the last minute, telling Posey’s character the “music have to be for everyone.” Really, together Clyde points out on the journey home, it’s because of she own are afraid that, if she’s negative enough, someone could take away she records, too. I mean it i will not ~ be High Fidelity if it didn’t treat music fanaticism favor the ultimate kind of tribalism, yet the show only adds fuel to the fire by make Rob’s adversary perfectly emblematic of a specific insufferable stress, overload of wealthy, to chat music expert. The Robs the the previous were showing off their collector password of principles when they balked in ~ the purchase, however Kravitz is motioning vaguely towards an individual betterment. The “female” twisted on High Fidelity? Growth and maturity.