5 Ways Hulu’s “High Fidelity” Remixed the Original for Queer Audiences

Hulu’s High Fidelity comedy series is like a dance remix to one of your favorite songs—the original music is still there, but it’s been re-arranged with newer and longer beats that would slay at any nightclub.

Touchstone Pictures

John Cusack, Jack Black, Todd Luiso, and Tim Robbins in High Fidelity (2000)

The new High Fidelity, whose first season premiered February 14, has the same concept of the 2000 movie, which was based on the 1995 Nick Hornby novel of the same name—a lovelorn and sarcastic music-store owner has a thing for Top 5 lists, obsesses over past breakups, and shares inner thoughts by talking directly to the camera. But the High Fidelity series flips that script to make the story more diverse and inclusive.

Phillip Caruso/Hulu

David H. Holmes, Zo‘ë Kravitz, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph in Hulu’s High Fidelity

Here’s our Top 5 list of how Hulu’s High Fidelity is more queer-friendly than the movie.

  1. The Store Owner

    In the High Fidelity movie, John Cusack played a Chicago music-store owner named Rob Gordon (a straight male), who’s seen in the beginning of the film having a painful breakup with his live-in love Laura (Iben Hjejle), and the split leads him to re-examine his top five heartbreaks to figure out what went wrong.

    In the High Fidelity series, Zoë Kravitz (who’s one of the show’s executive producers) is a queer New York City music store owner named Robyn “Rob” Brooks, who takes a similar emotional journey, which is triggered by an equally devastating breakup with her British live-in boyfriend Russell “Mac” McCormack (Kingsley Ben-Adir).

    Phillip Caruso/Hulu

    Rob (Zo‘ë Kravitz) and Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir)

    Rob and Mac’s breakup and romance are shown in flashbacks throughout the series. High Fidelity begins a year after Rob’s split from Mac, who’s on her Top 5 list of heartbreaks. The only woman on her list is eye-candy ex-girlfriend Kat Monroe (Ivanna Sakhno), a celebrity stylist who invites Rob to her dinner party in Episode 4, where Rob gets clarity on why the breakup happened in the first place.

    Rob doesn’t label her own sexuality, and her queerness is accepted by everyone around her. The show could have more of a reality check by addressing the anti-LGBTQ bigotry that exists in this world, even in “hipster” Brooklyn where Rob lives and works. However, the queer representation in the High Fidelity series is a big step forward, considering that the High Fidelity movie had no queer characters in it at all.

  2. The Store Employees

    Cherise (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) and Simon (David H. Holmes)

    Rob Gordon has two employees at his Championship Vinyl store in Chicago—Barry (Jack Black), an aggressively rude, wannabe rock star and Dick (Todd Luiso), a passive, nice guy who has no ambitions outside of working in the record store. Just like Rob, they’re fanatical about music trivia and ranking opinionated lists. In the series, it’s the same scenario, but the polar-opposite employees are loudmouth Cherise (played by Da’Vine Joy Randolph) and soft-spoken Simon (David H. Holmes).

    Phillip Caruso/Hulu

    Cherise (Randolph), Robyn (Kravitz), and Simon (Holmes)

    But there’s a new twist: Simon is one of Rob’s ex-boyfriends on her Top 5 heartbreak list. Unlike the others on the list, their romantic relationship ended on friendly terms after Simon came out as gay. In Episode 8 (titled “Battle of the Lonesome Loser”), High Fidelity goes full-on queer with the entire storyline devoted to Simon’s love life as an out gay man. We also see that Simon lives with three very sassy gay roommates named River (Noah Ricketts), Dallas (Anthony Gusevich), and Link (Jordon Bolden), who give him unsolicited advice. If the four roomies were the Golden Girls, Simon would definitely be the Rose of the group.

  3. The Rock-Star Cameo

    Debbie Harry

    Bruce Springsteen had a cameo in the movie High Fidelity. All we’ll say about the High Fidelity series’ memorable cameo from Blondie’s openly queer lead singer Debbie Harry is that it happens at the end of Episode 3, “What Fucking Lily Girl?”

  4. The Sex Scenes

    Mac (Ben-Adir) and Robyn (Kravitz)

    After her breakup with Mac, Rob jumps back into the dating pool with two potential love interests: nice guy Clyde (Jake Lacy) and touring singer/songwriter Liam (Thomas Doherty), who’s like a Scottish version of Shawn Mendes. The Liam character is the counterpart to the High Fidelity movie’s Marie De Salle (played by Kravitz’s mother, Lisa Bonet)—a transient singer who’s a lusty distraction from Rob’s breakup blues.

    Phillip Caruso/Hulu

    Simon (Holmes) and Ben (Christian Coulson)

    The adult content of the High Fidelity series is very similar to the movie, which was rated R. There’s no full-frontal nudity, but there’s a little more nudity in the series, since Kravitz appears topless in a morning-after scene in Episode 6, titled “Weird but Warm.” Simon is also seen getting it on with handsome attorney Benjamin Young (Christian Coulson), the first serious boyfriend he had after coming out.

  5. The Music

    In a switch from the mostly contemporary indie-rock High Fidelity movie soundtrack, the series soundtrack is much more eclectic and oriented to retro hit songs with artists ranging from David Bowie to Janet Jackson. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, co-founder of The Roots, is a musical consultant on the series, whose musical score is composed by Nathan Larson. Because Rob Gordon in High Fidelity doesn’t want to be a professional singer, don’t expect Zoë Kravitz (who’s also a singer and the daughter of Lenny Kravitz) to have any big singing moments in the show.

    Phillip Caruso/Hulu

    Rob with Jack Antonoff

    Rob also occasionally deejays at The Allied, a local nightclub where she hangs out the most. And the show portrays real-life music spots Brooklyn Steel (a 1,800-seat concert venue) and recording studio Electric Ladyland, where Grammy winning songwriter/producer Jack Antonoff makes a cameo. The Simon-centric eighth episode has drag queen karaoke and gay bar scenes, and when Simon schools a boyfriend over why disco diva Sylvester is an underrated queer icon, you’ll snap your fingers in agreement.

Writer and editor whose work has appeared in AXS.com, Examiner.com, Lifetime, People, and Billboard.


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