High Fidelity

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
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Gender-swapped series has language, sex, great soundtrack.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Sends messages about examining one's behavior, attempting to improve it to become more thoughtful to others, a good impulse. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cast is diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual identity, body type; a woman is at the center of the action and there are other strong, well-realized characters, male and female. Rob is often an unkind person; she's rude to her friends, family, customers. She grows over course of series and becomes a more thoughtful person. 


Romance is center, so expect lots of talk about dating and love, plus mature sexual content: passionate same- and opposite-sex kissing, casual sex, scenes in which couples kiss and fall into bed. A couple is shown nude from the side with the man on top (no private parts visible). Some messages are questionable, like when a middle school-age girl calls another girl a "slut" when she kisses the slut-shamer's boyfriend. 


Language is frequent, usually used for emphasis: "f--k," "bitch," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "d--k." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Multiple characters smoke cigarettes, including Rob, who begins smoking again after having quit. Characters smoke joints together, share drinks at bars, sometimes loosening up as if they're drunk or getting there. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that High Fidelity is a series based on the movie of the same name, centering on a record store owner who's recovering after a painful breakup. Romance drives most of the drama, so expect dating, flirting, kissing (same- and opposite-sex), images of couples falling into bed together, casual sex. A man and woman are shown nude from the side during sex (no private parts are visible, and they're still and silent). A young girl is called a slut when she kisses another girl's boyfriend. The diverse (in terms of body type, race, gender, and sexual identity) cast plays nonstereotypical characters, including a female business owner who's confident about her sexuality, and a female music lover who's confident in her good taste, though characters can be unkind and rude to each other, too. Language is frequent: "f--k," "bitch," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "d--k." Multiple characters smoke cigarettes (a former smoker taking the habit back up is a plot point), drink at bars, and smoke joints. 

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What's the story?

A gender-swapped version of the 2000 movie of the same name, HIGH FIDELITY chronicles the heartbreaks of Brooklyn record store owner Rob (Zoe Kravitz). Left lovelorn after her fiancé Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir) moved away to London without her, she's been hiding at home, running away from any sign of affection, and spending every day arguing about music with her two employees, the unrestrained Cherise (Da'Vine Joy Randolph) and Rob's best friend and ex-boyfriend, Simon (David H. Holmes). But Rob's too busy looking backward at what went wrong to move forward toward what's next. 

Is it any good?

Reimagining the central character of the 2000 movie of the same name (itself based on the 1995 Nick Hornby novel) gives a well-known story some crucial juice in this low-key series. Zoe Kravitz has a cool, laid-back energy, a solid contrast to John Cusack's portrayal of Rob as frenetic, unsettled, and obsessive. The difference makes this series play slightly unevenly at first: Kravitz's Rob doesn't seem like the kind of woman who controls her emotions with relentless list-making and music nerding. Maybe that's why after a few episodes, the top-five lists die down a bit, and Rob begins to come into better focus, a cool girl having city adventures instead of a flying-off-the-handle man-boy, though no less worse the wear from her romantic travails. 

There are other things you'll have to forgive this series for. Rob's record store, despite being so unpopular that it has only one Yelp review, seems to make enough money to pay her rent (she lives alone in an implausibly huge NYC apartment) and for two full-time employees. Speaking of said employees, their musical taste is suspect. If Rob is the same age as Kravitz, she's in her early '30s. Would a woman born in 1988 know (and care!) so much about Bowie and Fleetwood Mac? Might some hip-hop be played occasionally in her store? Rob and her employees seem to have the taste of middle-aged folks, which makes sense because the fantastic soundtrack is overseen by Questlove (age 49), but it doesn't make sense in the context of the show. Nonetheless, these minor flaws are easy to overlook, because it's so much fun to watch these authentic-feeling characters spar, and hang out, and alternately offer support and mockery. High Fidelity is a delight that viewers will want to play on repeat. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about TV shows that build their stories around romantic complications. How does High Fidelity compare to other shows in which the lead character is single and trying to find a lasting relationship? 

  • How was music used throughout the movie -- to define the characters, drive the story, and heighten the show's themes? How does the music underline what's taking place in each scene? 

  • Rob having quit smoking and then resuming it is a plot point. What does this say about her character and what she's going through? Does watching people smoke encourage viewers to smoke? Do you object to this aspect of her character? 

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance

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