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Disney Plans Family-Friendly, Female-Led Take on ‘High Fidelity’

Disney’s streaming service will be changing some fundamentals of one of the most iconic romantic comedies of the early 2000s.
By  · Published on April 6th, 2018

Disney’s streaming service will be changing some fundamentals of one of the most iconic romantic comedies of the early 2000s.

Everyone has been watching for updates about Disney’s inaugural subscription streaming service since it was announced. The fact that one of the biggest media conglomerates will finally be setting up their own Netflix or Hulu equivalent isn’t really that shocking; it’s probably more of a surprise that they hadn’t done it a lot sooner. But the fate of Disney content — animated films, those gritty Marvel shows on Netflix, etc. — currently peppered all over other streaming services was called into question for a time.

At least, until Deadline revealed in February that Disney had plans to keep its streaming service PG-13, which signals safety for all the Defenders-based content. Further announcements gave consumers more of an idea of what to expect: new Star Wars, Marvel, and Monsters Inc. series, as well as a High School Musical TV reboot will be a part of the service when it premieres in late 2019. Along with curating its existing family-friendly content under their own umbrella, the studio reportedly aims to create four to five original films and five TV series during the first year of the streaming service’s existence.

Evidently, according to the latest from Deadline, one of these new shows will be a romantic comedy based on the classic 2000s film High Fidelity (and the Nick Hornby novel it’s based on), only there will be a stark twist involved. The movie, which stars John Cusack, Iben Hjejle and Jack Black, is an R-rated examination of a man’s failed relationships. However, Disney doesn’t plan on bringing protagonist Rob Gordon to life on the small screen. Instead, the High Fidelity series will feature a female lead and, of course, will be a lot more family-friendly.

Fans of the original “High Fidelity” adaptation may be able to rest easier knowing that Scott Rosenberg, one of the co-writers of the film, will be part of the team that’s working on the Disney-fied version. Veronica West and Sarah Kucserka (both of whom worked on Ugly Betty) will handle scripting duties on the High Fidelity series, which has been described as  being similar enough in spirit to the movie — it’ll even include some of the classic fourth-wall breaking as its protagonist chronicles her past relationships. Per Deadline, the show will be “an optimistic-in-tone mixtape/diary rom-com.”

Frankly, this is the kind of news that doesn’t easily inspire outright ire or celebration. I’m one of the few people who isn’t especially taken with High Fidelity. Plenty of expectations hang over classics in general, but after hearing the film being touted as “relatable” over the years, the actual experience watching it was far more lackluster for me. Rob’s fixations on his past girlfriends and his supposed witticisms just feel more grating than anything else. Without offering a base level of identification with a protagonist that takes up as much space as he does onscreen, his journey of self-discovery only falls flat.

Would a female protagonist change that kind of reception? Probably not just at face value. However, the fact that women will be writing the show could make the most difference anyway; at least, in order for any of it to feel authentic to the girls and women tuning in. The most basic iteration of High Fidelity‘s premise — that a person getting their heart broken and needing to vocalize their feelings and work through them — could be universally adaptable, so there is reason to be optimistic about the series in this regard.

Whether High Fidelity would then successfully translate into a PG-13 serial format isn’t an issue either, depending on how Disney decides to rework the movie. Thankfully, there are PG-13 comedies out there that can handle relationship-based stories in a mature way; Easy A starring Emma Stone is a good example of this. Overall, there’s no reason to think that High Fidelity would lose the impact of its overall theme of self-discovery just because it isn’t rated R anymore. The show could very well work, even if it’ll definitely be different.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)