In 1995, Nick Hornby’s first novel, “,” about the love life and emotional limitations of a London record-shop owner, became a cultural touchstone on the subject of cultural touchstones. The unlucky-in-love protagonist, Rob Fleming, runs Championship Vinyl, where he and his disciples play an endless parlor game of list-making, imposing order on the fine chaos of rock and pop traditions. The film version, from 2000, directed by Stephen Frears, moved the shop to Chicago, bestowed on Rob the surname of Gordon, and deepened his situation as a musical fan whose fanaticism is related to his failure to mature. In the lead role, John Cusack employed a luxuriously defeated slouch that remains cinema history’s low bar for bad posture.
The latest iteration of “High Fidelity” is a Hulu series starring Zoë Kravitz as Robin (Rob) Brooks. True to Gordon’s zest for reference, the show is dense with allusions to the movie. Kravitz reprises Cusack’s straight-to-the-camera monologues and even some of his T-shirts. To keep pace with the ugly clothes of the Frears film—and to try to the sell the idea of Zoë Kravitz as an anti-glamorous schlub—the costume department puts her in strange green sweaters, shades evocative of lichen and tired avocado and Kurt Cobain’s cardigan on “MTV Unplugged.” The very appearance of Kravitz constitutes a kind of stunt casting, of course—her mother, Lisa Bonet, played opposite Cusack as a sultry singer making Frampton come alive.
2020欧洲杯体育投注网The casting is cute, and cuteness is a major mode of this production. Its brightness and breadth are qualities of its comic-strip style—a kind of hip “Cathy.” A year after a breakup, Rob is still in a funk—“going through one of those ‘What does it all mean?’ things,” as a friend says. She does an inventory of her romantic disappointments, flashes back to past joys and lasting shames, sulks elaborately, and delivers speeches filled with Carrie Bradshavian inquiry. At Championship Vinyl, now located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, a cozy situation comedy is in unironic progress. Rob’s employees are Clyde (Jake Lacy), an ex-boyfriend who discovered himself to be gay, and Cherise (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), an insecure loudmouth. As ever, the team’s depth of discographical knowledge is directly proportionate to the hostility of their customer service.
2020欧洲杯体育投注网Clyde and Cherise help Rob to get a serialized rom-com going on, and the series toggles between Rob’s unsteady reckoning with her personal history and her determinedly zany attempts at dating. One prospect is a young singer-songwriter, and their relationship—the tensions about him going on tour, the green-room jealousies, the recording-studio flirtations, the way the neck of the guy’s T-shirt frames a tattoo and a necklace—made me feel as though I was watching “The Hills.” On the other hand, a reality soap would be unlikely to include, as “High Fidelity” does,” a scene of Jack Antonoff playing himself as the singer’s producer.
2020欧洲杯体育投注网The show loves a cameo, a fond nod, a gratuitous reference, an underlined citation. Rob is appealing as the spirit of rock and roll. Her excellent taste in music is asserted by a soundtrack that ranges from deep cuts to big hits and that perhaps leans too hard on the viewer’s ingrained response to classics for its own evocations of feeling. Nothing can stop Rob’s lonely tears from falling.
“High Fidelity” flirts with taking her problems seriously; there’s a glaze of dark mood to it in the twitchier moments of Kravitz’s performance. The show casts a woozy eye on her regimen of self-medication, and it sizes up her apartment—with its dusty-pink walls and LPs-in-milk-crates fortifications—as a kind of cell. But it flinches from emotional difficulty. Nor does this iteration of a tale about curated identity do much with the material inherent in remaking the original Rob, an avid celebrant of White Guy cultural practices, across lines of race and gender. I also found myself waiting a long time for the show to address contemporary dating life, or to say something about personal taste in the age of the algorithm—but then, when it did, I found myself wishing it hadn’t, as when a dinner party serves as a setup for an easy jest at the vapidity of Instagram influencers.
The show is most intriguing for feeling a bit out of time. The novel is an outstanding Gen X artifact, like the “Singles” soundtrack in prose form; Rob, with his heroic sneering, was a man of his era. The show is meant to be set right now, but some of its atmospheric details are very last century, and its affection for indie darlings of the nineties is palpable. (This extends, delightfully, to the casting of Parker Posey as a batty art star who hopes to sell her philandering husband’s record collection to Rob.) Surely, Rob’s school of cultural snobbery, with its dogma and subcultural purism and concern for authenticity, doesn’t exist as it once did. “High Fidelity” has always concerned itself with nostalgia for youthful heartbreak, but, this time around, the mists of memory haze obscure the hero. The show unfolds in some atemporal nostalgia zone; Rob seems like a middle-aged person’s idealized view of a heartbroken young person. The song remains the same, but the playback device is somehow obsolete.