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5 Ways Hulu's "High Fidelity" Remixed the Original for Queer Audiences

Zoë Kravitz steps into John Cusack's iconic shoes in this vibrant update of the 2000 movie about heartbreak and vintage vinyl.

Hulu’s High Fidelity comedy series is like a dance remix to one of your favorite songs—the original music is still there, but it’s been re-arranged with newer and longer beats that would slay at any nightclub.

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John Cusack, Jack Black, Todd Luiso, and Tim Robbins in High Fidelity (2000)

The new High Fidelity, whose first season premiered February 14, has the same concept of the 2000 movie, which was based on the 1995 Nick Hornby novel of the same name—a lovelorn and sarcastic music-store owner has a thing for Top 5 lists, obsesses over past breakups, and shares inner thoughts by talking directly to the camera. But the High Fidelity series flips that script to make the story more diverse and inclusive.

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High Fidelity -- "Track 2" - Episode 102 -- Rob stews over her recent encounter with Mac and builds a secret playlist. Simon and Cherise take Rob to a concert, where she meets the lead singer, Liam - who might just be the distraction she needs. Simon (David H. Holmes), Robyn (Zo‘ Kravitz), and Cherise (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), shown. (Photo by: Phillip Caruso/Hulu)

David H. Holmes, Zo‘ë Kravitz, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph in Hulu's High Fidelity

Here’s our Top 5 list of how Hulu’s High Fidelity is more queer-friendly than the movie.

The Store Owner

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High Fidelity -- "Top Five Heartbreaks" - Episode 101 -- After a first date gone wrong with nice guy, Clyde, record store owner, Rob Brooks, goes into an emotional tailspin in which she recounts the ups and downs of her All-Time Top Five Most Memorable Heartbreaks (Kevin Bannister, Kat Monroe, Simon Miller, Justin Kit, and Russell ÒMacÓ McCormack) - and reveals the impact of an unexpected encounter. Robyn (Zo‘ Kravitz), shown. (Photo by: Phillip Caruso/Hulu)

In the High Fidelity movie, John Cusack played a Chicago music-store owner named Rob Gordon (a straight male), who’s seen in the beginning of the film having a painful breakup with his live-in love Laura (Iben Hjejle), and the split leads him to re-examine his top five heartbreaks to figure out what went wrong.

In the High Fidelity series, Zoë Kravitz (who’s one of the show’s executive producers) is a queer New York City music store owner named Robyn "Rob" Brooks, who takes a similar emotional journey, which is triggered by an equally devastating breakup with her British live-in boyfriend Russell "Mac" McCormack (Kingsley Ben-Adir).

Phillip Caruso/Hulu

High Fidelity -- "Top Five Heartbreaks" - Episode 101 -- After a first date gone wrong with Clyde, a Ònice guy,Ó record store owner Rob Brooks recounts her Top Five Heartbreaks and a recent emotional run in with her past. Robyn (Zo‘ Kravitz) and Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir), shown. (Photo by: Phillip Caruso/Hulu)

Rob (Zo‘ë Kravitz) and Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir)

Rob and Mac’s breakup and romance are shown in flashbacks throughout the series. High Fidelity begins a year after Rob’s split from Mac, who’s on her Top 5 list of heartbreaks. The only woman on her list is eye-candy ex-girlfriend Kat Monroe (Ivanna Sakhno), a celebrity stylist who invites Rob to her dinner party in Episode 4, where Rob gets clarity on why the breakup happened in the first place.

Rob doesn’t label her own sexuality, and her queerness is accepted by everyone around her. The show could have more of a reality check by addressing the anti-LGBTQ bigotry that exists in this world, even in “hipster” Brooklyn where Rob lives and works. However, the queer representation in the High Fidelity series is a big step forward, considering that the High Fidelity movie had no queer characters in it at all.

The Store Employees

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High Fidelity -- "What Fucking Lily Girl?" - Episode 103 -- Rob obsesses over CameronÕs big news about Mac, falling deeper into the rabbit hole Ð and finally finding sympathy for her predicament in an unexpected place: Liam. But when her night with Liam ends with a thud, Rob realizes she may be stuck in a pattern that only she can break and decides to do something about it. Cherise (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) and Simon (David H. Holmes), shown. (Photo by: Phillip Caruso/Hulu)

Cherise (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) and Simon (David H. Holmes)

Rob Gordon has two employees at his Championship Vinyl store in Chicago—Barry (Jack Black), an aggressively rude, wannabe rock star and Dick (Todd Luiso), a passive, nice guy who has no ambitions outside of working in the record store. Just like Rob, they’re fanatical about music trivia and ranking opinionated lists. In the series, it’s the same scenario, but the polar-opposite employees are loudmouth Cherise (played by Da'Vine Joy Randolph) and soft-spoken Simon (David H. Holmes).

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High Fidelity -- "Fun Rob" - Episode 109 -- ItÕs A milestone birthday forces Rob to confront her past and the demise of her relationship with Mac. Cherise (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), Robyn (Zo‘ Kravitz), and Simon (David H. Holmes), shown. (Photo by: Phillip Caruso/Hulu)

Cherise (Randolph), Robyn (Kravitz), and Simon (Holmes)

But there’s a new twist: Simon is one of Rob’s ex-boyfriends on her Top 5 heartbreak list. Unlike the others on the list, their romantic relationship ended on friendly terms after Simon came out as gay. In Episode 8 (titled “Battle of the Lonesome Loser”), High Fidelity goes full-on queer with the entire storyline devoted to Simon’s love life as an out gay man. We also see that Simon lives with three very sassy gay roommates named River (Noah Ricketts), Dallas (Anthony Gusevich), and Link (Jordon Bolden), who give him unsolicited advice. If the four roomies were the Golden Girls, Simon would definitely be the Rose of the group.

The Rock-Star Cameo

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High Fidelity -- "Good Luck and Goodbye" - Episode 104 -- In hopes of understanding why her relationships continue to fail, Rob decides to track down her All-Time Top Five Most Memorable Heartbreaks. It starts out as a satisfying romp down memory lane giving her the answers she wants, but it ultimately leads her to the one conversation sheÕs been avoiding: finally confronting Mac about their unfinished business. Debbie (Debbie Harry) and Robyn (Zo‘ Kravitz), shown. (Photo by: Phillip Caruso/Hulu)

Debbie Harry

Bruce Springsteen had a cameo in the movie High Fidelity. All we’ll say about the High Fidelity series’ memorable cameo from Blondie’s openly queer lead singer Debbie Harry is that it happens at the end of Episode 3, “What Fucking Lily Girl?”

The Sex Scenes

Phillip Caruso/Hulu

High Fidelity -- "Top Five Heartbreaks" - Episode 101 -- After a first date gone wrong with nice guy, Clyde, record store owner, Rob Brooks, goes into an emotional tailspin in which she recounts the ups and downs of her All-Time Top Five Most Memorable Heartbreaks (Kevin Bannister, Kat Monroe, Simon Miller, Justin Kit, and Russell ÒMacÓ McCormack) - and reveals the impact of an unexpected encounter. Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and Robyn (Zo‘ Kravitz), shown. (Photo by: Phillip Caruso/Hulu)

Mac (Ben-Adir) and Robyn (Kravitz)

After her breakup with Mac, Rob jumps back into the dating pool with two potential love interests: nice guy Clyde (Jake Lacy) and touring singer/songwriter Liam (Thomas Doherty), who’s like a Scottish version of Shawn Mendes. The Liam character is the counterpart to the High Fidelity movie’s Marie De Salle (played by Kravitz’s mother, Lisa Bonet)—a transient singer who’s a lusty distraction from Rob’s breakup blues.

Phillip Caruso/Hulu

High Fidelity -- "Ballad of the Lonesome Loser" - Episode 108 -- ItÕs SimonÕs turn to recount his All-Time Top Five Most Memorable Heartbreaks - which might explain why he is so nervous around his Barista crush, and how he became so jaded about love. Simon (David H. Holmes) and Ben (Christian Coulson), shown. (Photo by: Phillip Caruso/Hulu)

Simon (Holmes) and Ben (Christian Coulson)

The adult content of the High Fidelity series is very similar to the movie, which was rated R. There’s no full-frontal nudity, but there’s a little more nudity in the series, since Kravitz appears topless in a morning-after scene in Episode 6, titled “Weird but Warm.” Simon is also seen getting it on with handsome attorney Benjamin Young (Christian Coulson), the first serious boyfriend he had after coming out.

The Music

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High Fidelity -- "Simon's Top 5" - Episode 108 -- It’s Simon’s turn to recount his Top 5 Most Memorable Heartbreaks. This might explain why he’s been so nervous around his Barista crush and his jaded outlook on love. Robyn (Zoë Kravitz), shown. (Photo by: Phillip Caruso/Hulu)

In a switch from the mostly contemporary indie-rock High Fidelity movie soundtrack, the series soundtrack is much more eclectic and oriented to retro hit songs with artists ranging from David Bowie to Janet Jackson. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, co-founder of The Roots, is a musical consultant on the series, whose musical score is composed by Nathan Larson. Because Rob Gordon in High Fidelity doesn’t want to be a professional singer, don’t expect Zoë Kravitz (who’s also a singer and the daughter of Lenny Kravitz) to have any big singing moments in the show.

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High Fidelity -- "WeirdÉBut Warm" - Episode 106 -- When Liam returns from tour, Rob is caught between the fantasy of a night spent backstage as his date and the reality of what Clyde is offering Ð be it friendship or something more. Simon develops a crush. Cherise is inspired to pitch herself to LiamÕs manager. Robyn (Zo‘ Kravitz) and Jack (Jack Antonoff), shown. (Photo by: Phillip Caruso/Hulu)

Rob with Jack Antonoff

Rob also occasionally deejays at The Allied, a local nightclub where she hangs out the most. And the show portrays real-life music spots Brooklyn Steel (a 1,800-seat concert venue) and recording studio Electric Ladyland, where Grammy winning songwriter/producer Jack Antonoff makes a cameo. The Simon-centric eighth episode has drag queen karaoke and gay bar scenes, and when Simon schools a boyfriend over why disco diva Sylvester is an underrated queer icon, you’ll snap your fingers in agreement.

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