The least believable part of High Fidelity, Hulu’s new reboot of the novel-turned-movie, is that a 30-year-old could afford to run a record store in the most expensive neighborhood of Brooklyn in this economy. The second least believable part is that anyone would ever dump Zoë Kravitz.
Kravitz, the child of Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz, is obviously beautiful. But in High Fidelity, she is more than the sum of her fantastic genes — she radiates charisma, likability, and relatability, all while playing a self-defined asshole. And she absolutely carries the show.
As a huge fan of the original 2000 movie (yes, I went through a huge John Cusack phase and no, I am not ashamed), I was excited but justifiably skeptical about Hulu’s reboot, which turned the movie based off Nick Hornby’s 1995 book of the same name into a series. I’ve been scorned by reboots in the past (looking at you, live action Aladdin) and I genuinely do not understand why the powers that be think the only thing we want is the same exact stories told over and over and over again. But that didn’t stop me and my boyfriend from spending the bulk of our Saturday watching the entire season in one sitting, only pausing to make a giant plate of pasta for sustenance. And I’m glad I watched, not because I think the show is groundbreaking or perfect or necessarily must-watch TV, but because it introduced me to Zoë Kravitz as the bonafide star she is.
Of course, I’ve known who Zoë Kravitz is for a while now. I’ve seen her Instagram, where she posts flawless magazine shots next to flawless red carpet photos next to really excellent uses of emojis. As a student of Jewish pop culture, I’ve studied the relationship timeline with her husband Karl Glusman and fell in love with the insanely charming couple. But I’ve never actually seen her act before. I opted out of Harry Potter movies before I ever got to see her in Fantastic Beasts, and I prefer spending my free time watching objectively bad reality TV than lauded drama hits like Big Little Lies. And so it was in High Fidelity that I really got to hear Kravitz’s voice for the first time, to see her embody a role that, while not originally written for her, she takes on like a partner’s well-worn rock tee that was somehow always meant for her.
The show, for those who haven’t seen the movie or read the book, follows a misanthropic record store owner named Rob who, after going through yet another break-up, takes a walk down memory lane to confront her “desert island top five heartbreaks of all time,” trying to glean from them where it all went wrong and whether it was really her fault in the end. Like John Cusack before her, Kravitz’s character steps past the fourth wall to speak directly to the audience, and like the original, she is the epitome of an unlikeable protagonist: she makes bad decisions; she takes the people in her life for granted; she drinks too much; she’s prone to sabotaging anything good. But where Cusack shined at being an asshole, Kravitz shines at being a lovable asshole, the kind you still want to have in your life because she’s that cool, that funny, and ultimately a good person trapped in the bane of dating in your late 20s/early 30s in New York City (we’ve all been there, or at least I have).
Here we see Kravitz as Rob, making an attempt to sneak out of a date (with everyone’s favorite hook-up-turned-relationship actor, Jake Lacy) look like an arguably nice, good thing to do. She makes eating cereal while walking around in her sweatpants, milk dribbling down her chin, a glamorous display. She literally makes Doug Funny’s everyday outfit look like something I’d spend $400 on trying to recreate and fail.
Beyond the hard exterior, Kravitz also shines when showing her character’s vulnerability. After an evening spent at an influencer gathering hosted by her ex #2, Kat Monroe, Rob debriefs with her employees/only friends Cherise and Simon (who also happens to be an ex). “Do you know she told me I was obsessive, and too in touch with my feelings?” she asks incredulously. While her friends’ answers are reassuring — “Those are not the words I would use.” “No, not at all, fuck her, that is crazy.” — their faces reveal the truth: Kat was right. It’s a brief moment, but you can see Rob register the truth, too, her eyes quickly darting between Cherise and Simon before muttering a “Yeah, yeah” and taking a sip of her whiskey, neat. (I also need to quickly note here that SNL’s Chloe Fineman makes a cameo at the influencer gathering and is, as always, fantastic.)
We see Rob’s vulnerabilities on full display when being broken up with by her seemingly one true love, Mac. Between flashbacks to their break-up and present-day scenes when she’s confronted with him and his new fiancé, Lily, Rob is put through the ringer of emotions. Kravitz brings each and every one of those emotions to light, and even though I can’t quite see what makes Mac so special beyond his physical attractiveness and a nice British accent, I can feel Rob’s heart twist and ache and sputter out with every frantic phone call placed and bottle of champagne downed.
In the end, I’m still not entirely sure how I felt about High Fidelity as a work on its own. At times it felt like watching the karaoke version of the movie, which, don’t get me wrong, is totally fun. Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s take on Jake Black’s character is exciting and at times even a little heartbreaking. When The Beta Band’s “Dry the Rain” comes on in the record store, just like it did in the movie, my heart soared with nostalgia. And hearing Kravitz deliver certain lines, now genderbent — “What! Fucking! Lily girl!” — made me actually squeal with glee. I can’t imagine what it would be like to watch the show without seeing its predecessor and without being able to spot every easter egg that pops up in a nod of recognition to the original. And I was most enthralled when the show veered off course and did its own thing, if only because that meant I wasn’t absolutely sure what was coming next. But it’s very possible I might have stopped watching after an episode or two, waving it off as yet another reboot that couldn’t quite live up to its source, if it weren’t impossible to turn off the screen when Zoë Kravitz is right there, smiling.
I’d still recommend the show to anyone who loved the movie, but I especially recommend it to anyone who doesn’t already love Zoë Kravitz, because when you watch it, you will fall in love, and when you do, it will be forever.