The High Fidelity franchise has been around since 1995, when the book first came out, and was continued in 2000 when it was adapted into a movie. Now, in 2020, a Hulu reboot starring Zoë Kravitz is stepping in to prove the timelessness of this romantic comedy. Gather, record-store nerds, as I break down the differences among High Fidelity as a book, movie, and series.
You probably already know the plot of High Fidelity if you’re here, but before we start with the comparing and contrasting, let me just establish the basics. Whether you’re reading, watching, or bingeing, High Fidelity is about a record-store owner in their 30s named Rob who, after getting dumped, revisits past relationships to explore what went wrong and address their own fear of commitment.
The universal truth of all incarnations is that High Fidelity will make you feel lame AF no matter what. The music geeks in High Fidelity tear all my indie cred to shreds. That hasn’t changed in the 2020 version, but here’s what has:
The Few Things Specific to the Book
The only major difference between the High Fidelity book and the High Fidelity movie was that the book took place in London and the movie took place in Chicago. (We’ll get to the show in a second.) It’s not the only Hornby adaptation to cross the pond either. Remember Fever Pitch with Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore? He wrote that book first, too, and it was originally about the Arsenal
football club soccer team, not the Boston Red Sox (although there was a more faithful English film adaptation in 1997 starring Colin Firth).
Book nerds will also tell you that the storyline in the TV show where Rob goes to buy records from a divorcée, played by Parker Posey, was in the book and cut from the movie. The more you know!
The Similarities Between the Movie and the Show
High Fidelity on Hulu draws most heavily from the film that starred John Cusack as the lovable-but-unlucky-in-love music snob—and the amount of Easter eggs could rival that hunt they do on the White House lawn.
To name a few: The record store looks exactly the same, the protagonist’s apartment looks exactly the same, the Top 5 game that the friends play to pass the time is exactly the same, Rob wears some of the same T-shirts John wore, some of the soundtrack is the same, and certain speeches and lines like “What f*cking [name of new person my ex is dating] girl/boy?!” are intact from the beloved film. Both have celebrity cameos who appear as spiritual guides as well—John has Bruce Springsteen, Zoë has Debbie Harry.
Oh, also, Zoë is a living Easter egg because her mom (Lisa Bonet) was in the film. Duh!
...And Then There Are the Differences
Hulu’s adaptation moves the narrative, and High Fidelity now takes place in New York City. (Actually, if you’ll allow me a moment of snobbery, the first adaptation to set High Fidelity in Brooklyn was a Broadway musical that flopped in 2006. RIP, I guess.)
The most obvious difference is changing the main character from a dude, Rob, to Robin, played by Zoë. We need more female protagonists with commitment issues to infiltrate the “man-child” trope in storytelling, IMO.
At the end of the book/movie, Rob commits to the woman who dumped him at the beginning. At the end of the show, Robin tries to make things work with Clyde, who she met along the way, and she is rejected again. Whether or not that’s just a way for High Fidelity to allow the possibility of a season 2 is TBD, but it’s definitely not the ending we know and love.
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