TV Series High Fidelity: Season 1 Episode 1 “Top Five Heartbreaks” – Recap/...

High Fidelity: Season 1 Episode 1 “Top Five Heartbreaks” [Series Premiere] – Recap/ Review (with Spoilers)

Zoë Kravitz’s “High Fidelity” may not have too much of a hook beyond herself and Da’Vine Joy Randolph, but that might be all it needs.

Community Rating

3 out of 5 stars (based on 1 review)


Created ByVeronica West, Sarah Kucserka
Directed ByJesse Peretz, Jeffrey Reiner
Written ByVeronica West, Sarah Kucserka
Aired (Hulu)2/14/2020
Genre(s)Comedy, Romance, Young Adult, LGBT
Introduced This Episode
RobZoë Kravitz
CheriseDa’Vine Joy Randolph
SimonDavid H. Holmes
CamRainbow Sun Francks
ClydeJake Lacy
MacKingsley Ben-Adir

This content contains pertinent spoilers.

Plot Overview “Top Five Heartbreaks”

Rob, a late 20, maybe early 30 something New Yorker is a bit jaded with life. Primarily, she is jaded by the fact her love life has been one heartbreak after another, and thanks to dropping out of school and inheriting a record shop, things feel a bit stagnant. And while her employees Cherise, and one of her exes Simon, try to liven things up, there is only so much they can do. Heck, even Rob’s brother Cam knows his sister isn’t one to be pushed into joy.

Yet, with meeting a guy name Clyde and having a date, maybe things could look up. If not, considering her last big heartbreak, Mac, is back in New York, perhaps he can make it so instead of five big heartbreaks, Rob can have 4.

Collected Quote(s) or .Gifs

The things that you like are more important than what you are like.
— Simon

Review

On The Fence

If I Wasn’t A Fan Of Zoey Kravitz & Da’Vine Joy Randolph, To Almost The Point Of Being A Stan, I Don’t Think I Could Justify Watching This

I do my best to be honest, and while we have loved most of what Kravitz has put out, even if her role seems token-ish, this is the kind of show that likely will only appeal to her fans or those who want to see Randolph again after “Dynamite Is My Name.” Which could be a problem for this show’s longevity. But, taking off the rose-colored glasses that come with enjoying Kravitz playing the bohemian and eccentric Black girl, let’s dive into why we’re on the fence.

The Walk Down Memory Lane

The premiere presents an overview of Rob’s top 5 heartbreaks ranging from one when she was a tween to a year before the main events of the episode. Allow me to say, despite how Rob presents the good times in the beginning, and the break up which seems embarrassing for her, the recap doesn’t inspire a desire in watching Rob revisit these people at all. This is a major red flag since, going by the show’s advertising, Rob is going to look up all these people throughout the remaining 9 episodes.

Not Caring About The Majority Of The Characters

Which doesn’t create much in the way of excitement. Though, let’s be real, our investment in this show is Kravitz playing a character similar to what she usually plays than Rob as an individual entity. The same goes for Randolph. For while Cherise isn’t in the same time period as Lady Reed, one could submit that that Cherise is Lady Reed’s personality adapted to fit “High Fidelity.”

Simon (David H. Holmes) arguing with Cherise.
Simon (David H. Holmes)

So when it came to characters like Simon, Kevin, Justin, Kat, and the others, Rob’s exes, I’d love to say there were mixed feelings, but honestly, there were barely any at all. Primarily since they feel like building blocks to understand Rob’s trauma, and as much as you want to see that trauma explored, it isn’t with them. There is nothing presented in Rob’s overview of those relationships to make you think these characters are interesting and none of the writing pushes the idea, outside of Rob, you’d want to know these people.

Heck, even in terms of developing the character, getting their point of view as to why they dumped Rob, as opposed to her reason, doesn’t create a strong drive to binge the rest of the episode. If anything, “High Fidelity” further proves that networks releasing an entire season at once might be more about cost-saving, so they don’t have to promote for months, than anything else.

Hence why “High Fidelity” has peers like “Handmaid’s Tale” that are released weekly. That can maintain the conversation and be worth the week to week advertising costs. But “High Fidelity?” Ultimately, what we may get is the opportunity to see Kravitz be the star of her own show and wishing, so badly, it was anything but this.

Overall

First Impression: Divisive

Rob contemplating her life decisions.

“High Fidelity” will fully rely on Kravitz and Randolph’s ability to keep you watching. But, if neither actor’s charisma or character does it for you, you may question why was this made? The story proposed doesn’t illicit investment for Rob’s overview of her exes gives you a quick and digestible version of why she is single. And with Rob not being someone made to be a character you’d want to see chop down and exposed for her flaws, at least by her exes, it leaves you wondering is the investment the show asks of you worth it? If not, for shows like this, would it be better to have it be released weekly, as some Hulu shows are, vs. binge-able?

 

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Review Summary

The Short & Sweet Version

“High Fidelity” will seemingly rely fully on Kravitz and Randolph’s ability to keep you watching. But, if neither actor’s charisma or character does it for you, you may question why was this made? The story proposed doesn’t illicit investment for Rob’s overview of her exes gives you a quick and digestible version of why she is single. And with Rob not being someone made to be a character you’d want to see chop down and exposed for her flaws, at least by her exes, it leaves you wondering is the investment the show asks of you worth it? If not, for shows like this, would it be better to have it be released weekly, as some Hulu shows are, vs. binge-able?

Rating Breakdown

If I Wasn’t A Fan Of Zoey Kravitz & Da’Vine Joy Randolph, To Almost The Point Of Being A Stan, I Don’t Think I Could Justify Watching This
75 %
The Walk Down Memory Lane
71 %
Not Caring About The Majority Of The Characters
70 %

Community Rating

3
3.0 rating
3 out of 5 stars (based on 1 review)
Recommended0%
Positive0%
On The Fence100%
Divisive0%
Skip0%

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Questions, Comments, or Opposing Opinion?

  1. Well, I finished watching the whole thing…

    It does get better and a lot of the things you identify as being problems with the first episode are actually very clever red herrings.

    As in the novel, all of Robin’s exes, colleagues, friends and relatives reveal hidden depths as the audience gets to know them better, and because Robin was too self-absorbed to see them for who they truly were… the shallow way these characters are depicted in the first episode (which is almost exclusively from Rob’s POV) goes to show how unreliable the narrator is and makes the reveal of their true natures somewhat more dramatic. Some of these past relationships Rob has overly idealised, with others it turns out she has done the opposite…. Rob’s sassy shop-assistant turns out to have both emotional wounds and latent talent beneath her brash loudmouth exterior… Simon also turns out to have a much more calculating mind and astute understanding of human nature than you’d think just from the first episode.

    Later episodes that cover the business side of running a record store do come up with a plausible modern alternative to dramatise how the modern vinyl market has changed. Also, old school fans are treated to dramatisations of some funny scenes from the novel that were left out of the movie.

    Later episodes also have more dramatic stakes which give Zoe Kravitz an opportunity to demonstrate much more emotional range in exploring situations where there isn’t a clear cut “right” or “wrong” character in the relationship conflict.

    That said, if you have to choose between watching this series or watching the movie then I would advise people to go for the latter – so many of the dramatic beats have more punch to them precisely because the film is so lean and tightly paced… all the (usually intelligent and often amusing) fluff to the series is a bit of a mixed blessing.

    So yeah… “High Fidelity” isn’t like “Picnic At Hanging Rock”, a modern reimagining of an old story that totally loses sight of what made the original great and has no intelligent new ideas of its own… but it’s not like “The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance” which rejuvenated a dormant intellectual property in a way that honoured the legacy of the past whilst taking it in a bold new direction.

    “High Fidelity” is more like “Anne With An E”….. “Anne With An E” was an unnecessary remake, which needlessly complicated a very simple story in the process of giving it a PC makeover. But it had some moments of winning charm, striking visuals and a game cast giving it their all – “High Fidelity” is like that.

  2. Would I be correct in assuming this is another case (like with “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Fahrenheit 451”, “His Dark Materials” and “Picnic At Hanging Rock”) where a book is considered something of a modern classic, it then gets turned into a divisive film with a fervent cult following and then afterwards is revamped as a modernised TV series…. but you haven’t read the novel or seen the earlier movie version?

    I must say my motivation for watching this series was very different to yours… I didn’t know much about Zoe Kravitz, except that she’s the daughter of Lisa Bonet (who played one of Rob’s girlfriends in the original movie version of “High Fidelity”). The rest of the series cast are complete unknowns to me.

    I tuned in to “High Fidelity” because I was a fan of Nick Hornby’s novel, and the 90s movie version directed by Stephen Frears. I was curious to see what a modernised version of an old familiar story would look like.

    The novel is set in 1990s England… and the movie version made soon afterward (aside from relocating the setting to America) is a meticulously faithful adaptation… in both, the narrator Rob is a straight white male (John Cusack plays him in the movie).

    Some of the complaints you’ve made could be applied to the original story… all of the characters are deeply flawed, highly dysfunctional people that are very difficult to like… and the novel is very loosely plotted… much of it consists of Rob just sitting around commenting on random things that happen in day-to-day life or ranting at length about musical trends… it is only Hornby’s sharp sardonic wit (and the superb comic timing of John Cusack’s monologuing in the movie) that stops much of this from being boring. Not much actually happens in “High Fidelity”, which is probably why it’s such a short book and movie.

    The show strikes me as OK after the first episode… but the most interesting things for me were when it went “off-book” and did it’s own thing rather than recycling gags from the past – but I can’t tell if that’s just my familiarity with the source material talking and younger viewers might look upon these as fresh jokes… this is a lot closer to the original than I thought it would be, maybe too close…

    Changing the gender, race, sexual-orientation and nationality of a handful of characters hasn’t really altered either their personality or their plot-function…. only Kravitz seems markedly different – she’s a bit softer and more socially aware than her abrasively neurotic literary/cinematic predecessors.

    I’m wondering how this will support 10 episodes though. It’s a short book and the movie was less than two hours long… are they going to continue on past the events of the original story into pastures new? Or are they going to pad out the same story with more angsty monologues and rants about music?

    I hope they do something truly creative. I think “High Fidelity” has potential, I like the visual style and most of the music cues… but I’ve been burnt by so many TV adaptations of great literature lately, I don’t wanna get my hopes up too high.

    • You see a pattern here? I have long heard good things about the “High Fidelity” movie, and know someone who likely has it on DVD. But something about this show just came off that, in trying to adapt to modern times and what’s “Hip,” it was trying too hard.

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