Dear Nick Hornby, Music Isn’t Just For the Boys

Pop Culture is Dead. Consider I Killed It by Sarah DeSouza

When you first start “High Fidelity,” the new Hulu series based on the book by Nick Hornby, starring Zoë Isabella Kravitz, you are probably first struck by how gorgeously it is shot. Actually, wait no. You are most definitely struck by how gorgeous Zoë still looks while tearfully recanting her ‘desert-island “All Time Top Five Most Memorable Heartbreaks” in chronological order.’ But once you’re over that, struck again by just how gorgeously it is shot. I’m talking A24, shot on film, the whole nine. 

For those who haven’t read the book or seen the original movie (don’t worry I haven’t either), the original focused on Rob, a white guy who owned a record store and his messy love life. This remake begins with Rob (Kravitz), breaking the fourth wall to tell us about her biggest heartbreaks. She monologues about how each of them shaped her or impacted her life in some significant way – one breakup so particularly bad she ends up dropping out of school to run the struggling record store she worked for. The rest of the series is about choosing to pick up the pieces in the wake of heartbreak and what it might feel like when you do. 

Without giving too much away, what makes this show standout is not just the stellar acting done by the three main cast members, or the fucked-up vibey-ness of it all but what it literally does for the culture. We see two womxn of color and a gay man commanding knowledge over all things music, never pretentious, always passionate. Even if it’s just another miserable fucking day for these characters, they relish in figuring out the perfect next song for their playlist or discovering an underground artist or debating which artists had the best reinvention. 

We get to see Rob be completely in tune with her feelings, even if at times it’s to her detriment. We get to see Cherise (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) go after her dreams of being a musician, clocked by realism but relentless in her pursuit anyways. These Black womxn are headstrong, completely under the influence of their emotions, even if it means getting knocked down a couple of times. 

My biggest critique of the show are the moments where we are suddenly reminded that the year is 2020, communicated through debates over whether or not to sell Michael Jackson records, etc. The moments are few and far in between, which makes them out of place and more performative than anything else. Their “wokeness” comes in the hidden moments where they show up the asshole who assumes they know nothing about the Rolling Stones or their portrayal of relationships as a choice, rather than a necessity.  

The remake is important because it democratizes the celebration of music. It maintains that “music preferences reflect something individual, ineffable, soul-deep, and in need of sharing,” while correcting the exclusion that marked the previous two. 

So as we all try to not die of boredom in isolation, continue to take care of your community by staying inside and bingeing all of “High Fidelity.” I promise you won’t regret it.