With the added aura of commercialized romance, Valentine’s Day marked the release of Hulu’s latest television series endeavor, High Fidelity. The overwhelming atmosphere of love complemented the release well, as the show dives into the psychology of healing from heartbreak. It serves as a successful modern-day adaptation to Nick Hornby’s bestselling 1995 novel of the same title, but offers important variations that keep the series from feeling dated.
Hornby’s novel easily acquired mass popularity due to a multi-layered plot and the dynamic nature of its main character, Rob Fleming. Both the novel and 2000 film adaptation depict Rob as a 30-something record store owner who returns to the relationships of his past to understand why they failed. Intertwining music, art, and love, High Fidelity is a complex piece that has the ability to relate to a broad range of personalities.
The 2020 adaptation of the story is produced with some twists, but unlike the usual disappointment that comes with straying from a work’s foundation, the Hulu series updates the story in a way that increases its relevance to modern times.
Zoe Kravitz doubles as the series’ main character and executive producer. Rob is now short for Robin, who is much more dimensional than the past depiction of Rob. Her race and gender, both different from the original Rob, allow the story to catch up to 2020. As she recalls her “All-Time Top Five Heartbreaks,” her sexual fluidity is unveiled, as “Number Three” is written to be a woman. “Number Four” ended with the realization that her male partner was gay, which turned their love into a friendship that she continues to hold close to her heart.
Kravitz proves to be the right fit for Rob[in] Fleming. She depicts her in a way that casts her as tough yet extremely vulnerable. She’s able to convey the inner emotions of Rob with a simple glance at the camera. Her personality is consistent with the way Rob was written, but a mischievous side adds further dimension to the character.
The fourth wall is completely deconstructed throughout the series. Kravitz frequently addresses the camera directly. The opening scene of the series shows Rob listing off her top-five worst heartbreaks to you, before pausing midway to finalize the breakup with her fiancé. Following the crying and door slamming, Kravitz turns back to the camera to reveal the fifth one to be the man who just left her.
The decision to break down the fourth wall makes the story more personal—Rob becomes someone to whom you feel yourself building a connection to. The music she plays when she is alone in her apartment also makes her more relatable by showing how she copes with heartbreak.
The series does a beautiful job of integrating flashbacks. They come to be an essential element of how the series relays background information, and they are placed in a sporadic manner to demonstrate the unpredictability of Rob’s train of thought. As a result, the storyline switches from the past and present in a way that emphasizes that the process of dealing with heartbreak is not linear and constrained to time. Some days you remember your past relationships fondly, others with sadness.
The majority of the plot takes place a year after Rob’s most recent heartbreak. The hurdles of modern dating are depicted as Rob attempts to find love again. She struggles with the effect of social media on the healing process and faces the burden of new dating behaviors, specifically ghosting. The implementation of current relationship struggles updates High Fidelity in a way that makes it applicable to nearly everyone who watches it.
The series’ renovation of the ’90s storyline results in a work that should be added to the top of everyone’s watch list. Nearly 25 years of music has been incorporated into the plot to make the story more engaging than ever, and witty banter is included alongside deeper heart-to-hearts to ensure that there is something for everyone who watches.
Featured Image by Hulu