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Opinion: Hulu’s ‘High Fidelity’ reboot doesn’t check all the boxes

As a music and vinyl enthusiast, I have always loved the John Cusack led film, “High Fidelity.” When I saw Hulu rebooted the story in a mini series with Zoë Kravitz, I couldn’t wait to watch. 

The Hulu version does a great job at updating the story — adding women, social media, a gay friend…they check all the boxes. The part they failed to update? The most important one: music. 

John Cusack in the “High Fidelity” from 2000. Image courtesy of IMDB.

For those unfamiliar with the early 2000s film, John Cusack experiences serial heartbreaks and tells his story through a series of “top-five lists” and directly addressing the audience. This of course parallels the kind of “top five” mixtape a true audiophile would make. He also works in a record store with his only friends and music-snob employees, played by Jack Black and Todd Louisa. 

To me the best parts of this film are the references to music/musicians paired with a beautiful soundtrack full of the Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder. So imagine my disappointment in finding that he new version references many of the same artists and barely reaches into the past decade of music.

I get the notion of nostalgia and I’m sure the writers wanted to appeal to audiences who knew the original movie. I get that vinyl collectors like older albums. But someone who works in the music industry as Kravitz character (Rob) does, would also listen to new music. 

Zoë Kravitz stars in the 2020 Hulu series, “High Fidelity.” Image courtesy of IMDB

To me the series missed a great opportunity to highlight newer alternative artists and mix them in with the legendary David Bowie and Marvin Gaye records we hear. 

The set designer included modern albums in the record store, but we never get to hear them. Mitski’s Be the Cowboy from 2018 hangs on the wall, but none of those tracks are included in Rob’s love-themed playlist? Truly an atrocity. 

Aside from the posters and records in the store, Rob mentions Ariel Pink once. In episode nine, we finally are blessed with Frank Ocean’s “Nikes.”

Overall, the show isn’t bad. Zoë Kravitz does a great job and has an inspiring wardrobe. I’m just saying that if you’re going to update a story about music…you should probably update the music in it.