Why Zoë Kravitz’s Rob Is a Great (and Messy) Character in the High Fidelity Show
Watching Hulu’s High Fidelity series was a delicious experience. It was wonderfully shot, the music was wonderful (and made me add a lot of stuff to my playlist), and Zoë Kravitz as Rob is a fashion icon for all time. But in terms of the writing, by gender-swapping Rob from a white, straight cis man to a biracial Black queer woman, leads to a really interesting take on the character.
Rob (Robyn) is the owner of Championship Vinyl in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (a feat in itself) and is struggling with her latest breakup with a longterm boyfriend, which leads her down a year-long romantic hibernation in which she spirals over what she did wrong and what happened. As she goes through her journey into healing we see that her heartbreak doesn’t just affect herself, but everyone around her.
Her coworkers and de facto best friends Simon (David H. Holmes) and Cherise (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) are well-tuned to how her moods expand into every aspect of her ability to work. She can, at one point, be very sweet and considerate, but also be so self-centered that she tunes out actual important conversations.
Rob is the perfect balance between a thoughtful snob and a neglectful best friend, which is so fun to see in a Black lead.
While I question a world where people can willingly reject Zoë Kravitz, the movie makes it clear that her romantic idealism is both a blessing and a curse. She’s longing for someone to make her feel whole, especially because so many of her partners have rejected her for reasons that made her feel inadequate. Considering that most of her partners were white, and the person she felt the most complete with was another Black person, I think that there is something to be examined there (hopefully in a second season). Yet, she also self-sabotages this relationship the moment it gets too complicated and fails to take full responsibility.
Rob is clearly an unreliable narrator, but the final few episodes show that Rob is also in a strange sense of arrested development. She loves the tragedy of her pain and subconsciously feeds into it because that’s easier. That is more normal than allowing herself to fully commit to the possibility of being truly seen by anyone. It is deliciously satisfying.
One of my music snob friends messaged me about the series, and I’ll admit that I was a little bit suspicious of the remake before that point. It was a show no one asked for or seemed to be speaking about. It seemed to have just exploded. But in the end, I found myself finding something that I wanted to see in a Black female hero: a romantic mess. Insecure has given me that, but without that element of loneliness that makes High Fidelity feel so interesting.
If you have been looking for a romantic comedy that gives you all the messy self-sabotage that male heroes get, but without the usual “you need to be more chill” aspects that get put onto women, High Fidelity is for you.
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