Television has a new Black female heroine.
Twenty-five years after the 1995 novel was released, Hulu presented a new romantic comedy web series High Fidelity. Based on the 2000 film of the same name starring John Cusack, the web series stars singer-actress Zoe Kravitz. The 31 year old daughter of iconic 80’s couple Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet stars as the reimagined record store owner Robyn “Rob” Brooks, the weed-smoking, pop-culture knowing hipster who begins every episode with a soliloquy on the qualms of love and heartbreak.
It is important to note the decision to make Rob Brooks a female, and a black female at that, is one of brilliance and comedic genius.
Zoe Kravitz is the latest addition in the Black female comedic resurgence that produced the likes of other Issa Rae in Insecure, Logan Browning in Dear White People, and Yara Shahidi in Grownish. Zoe’s commanding performance of a character revolutionized by the white male gaze takes back the narrative of Black people let alone Black women being virtually absent from hipster comedy and rewriting for a new generation to follow.
Adrian Horton writes in her 2020 article for The Guardian, “the gender flip smartly reorients the music of the movie; now, a black, queer woman… dictates the terms of taste and asserts the vibe, even if her pop culture awareness is almost entirely music-centric.” It’s important to note this flip because in doing so, Rob becomes the exact antithesis that this show needs to play out. Gone are the days of age-old romantic comedies that depict the quintessential white male saga of drugs, sex, and rock and roll.
In this High Fidelity, the gaze is widened. Rob is much more interesting and has more depth. This quasi feminist narrative brings to life sharp dialogue and captivating story lines to reimagine a sleeper hit for another generation of hipsters.
Often in popular culture and the tales of society and culture, women are the cultural bearers and often the vessel in which tradition and encounters are born. Rob in High Fidelity is a great example. Jen Chaney writes in her 2020 article for Vulture, “Rob’s race and gender is of special significance because music culture has historically been so dominated by white male perspectives, as the original High Fidelity proves.”