[Note: The following contains spoilers for Season 1 of “High Fidelity.”]
For a show that features a central character speaking directly to the audience and by the end of the third episode has introduced Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry playing herself as a spectral dispenser of romantic advice, it’s hard to imagine that “High Fidelity” would have surprises left by the time it reached its opening season’s home stretch.
But that’s exactly what the new Hulu series did when, for an episode, Rob (Zoë Kravitz) turned over the reins to Simon (David H. Holmes) for one of the other Championship Vinyl employees to have his turn at sharing his heartbreak history with the audience.
“That was in the original pitch. We made a bit of a choice to not know anything about Simon for a very long time, because that’s part of his character. He’s super closed off. He doesn’t talk about his feelings, not even to Rob. Our hope was that people would have an hunger to get to know more about him,” series co-creator Veronica West said. “And it was Solomon Georgio, one of our amazing writers, who pitched the idea that the Top 5 Breakups were all the same guy. I think David Holmes absolutely shines in it. And it’s wonderful to have an episode of the show that shows how much farther we can go in future seasons.”
But of course that leaves one member of the Championship trio left to make that direct audience connection. West and fellow co-creator Sarah Kucserka said that they were conscious of giving Cherise (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) a life outside the walls of the record store. Rather than silo that trajectory in a single episode, her gradual pathway to finding a musical voice of her own was spread throughout the season. “High Fidelity” hasn’t officially been renewed yet, but for those who wanted a Cherise episode, a potential Season 2 might just fulfill that need.
“Well, she will absolutely get her episode,” West said. “The idea behind [Season 1] was that Cherise has a story throughout the season. There are scenes and multiple episodes that track her journey about wanting to be an artist. And we did make a specific choice to have her character’s main story of the season not to be a romance and just show a woman whose story is about something other than love.”
“High Fidelity” doesn’t overdo it on the cameo front, but between Harry (“She was absolutely our first pick and everyone was so thrilled that she was interested in doing it,” West said) and prolific producer/musician Jack Antonoff (“There was a bunch of stuff that was ad-libbed and we were like, ‘Oh my God, we have to keep this. This is gold,'” Kucserka said), bringing in real-life figures into this fictional world helped add to the show’s specific blend of the true and the imagined.
Yet, even with all of the enticing pieces surrounding it, this is primarily Rob’s story. The show’s first season ends with Rob’s feelings being torn in two different directions. Ostensibly, even after she “chooses” Clyde (Jake Lacy) following a very specifically soundtracked encounter with longtime love Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir), her future with either man is still very much in flux. For West and Kucserka, “High Fidelity” was a chance to subvert the traditional love triangle tropes from the inside and put the emphasis back on Rob.
“A lot of stories from a female perspective as a romantic comedy are about looking for that right person and that right match. And we always set out to tell a story that was not about that. It was about, ‘Hey, there’s tons of good matches for you. And here’s a couple of them that we’re introducing in the first season,'” West said. “And the problem is not them. The problem is internal. That kind of story really inherently becomes about the heroine’s psychological journey, instead of simply about finding the right person. We all thought that was just a much more complicated and interesting story to hear.”
“We really saw all of these love interests that we were exploring both in the present and the past as a way to kind of tease out her true internal emotions and the problems and the hurdles that she’s trying to overcome,” Kucserka said.
So what might be next for Rob as those romantic prospects remain opaque? Aside from wanting to follow these established characters a little more, the showrunners explained that they’d like to keep presenting the unexpected.
“The characters — especially Clyde and Mac — who we have come to hopefully fall in love with in Season 1 will both continue to be in her life in different forms. Frankly, I also want to see Rob just be single and meet some new people and see how that goes,” West said. “She hasn’t figured it all out. She’s maybe figured 5% of it out. And now she has to keep going on this journey. And that’s why, for us, this is a series that can go multiple seasons. We were always driving towards that moment where she was like, ‘Oh, I’m still pretty messed up.’ When you see that moment and how it manifests, that’s the one that has the most resonance for me.”
“High Fidelity” Season 1 is now streaming on Hulu.