Season 2 of ‘High Fidelity’ would have focused on Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s Cherise

Zoë Kravitz and Da'Vine Joy Randolph in the Hulu series "High Fidelity."
Robyn (Zoë Kravitz), left, and Cherise (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) in Hulu’s “High Fidelity.”
(Phillip Caruso / Hulu)

The first season of Hulu’s “High Fidelity” explored the top five heartbreaks of record store owner Rob (Zoë Kravitz) and her employee/ex-boyfriend/close friend Simon (David H. Miller). Which left fans wondering: Why didn’t any of the 10 episodes zoom in on the love life of Rob’s other employee and close friend, Cherise, played by Da’Vine Joy Randolph?

It turns out that not just a single episode but the entire second season of the music-fueled series would have centered on the standout supporting character.

“Annoyingly, Season 2 was really gonna be a Cherise-focused season,” Kingsley Ben-Adir, who played Rob’s ex Mac, told The Times in a wide-ranging interview for the paper’s fall TV preview. “She was gonna become the lead of the show, and the story was leaning toward being about where she’d come from, her heartbreaks and her family background.”

Ben-Adir said that Kravitz and the creative team had been mulling multiple ideas for how to expand the series beyond its source material — the 1995 Nick Hornby novel and the 2000 movie starring John Cusack — which Season 1 creatively reinvented. Kravitz told Ben-Adir that the idea they were most looking to pursue was to give Cherise the season-long treatment previously given to Rob.

As Barack Obama in “The Comey Rule” and Malcolm X in “One Night in Miami,” Kingsley Ben-Adir took on two larger-than-life figures — in overlapping shoots.

Aug. 27, 2020

Da'Vine Joy Randolph as Cherise in Hulu's "High Fidelity."
Cherise (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) in Hulu’s “High Fidelity.”
(Phillip Caruso / Hulu)

In Season 1, Randolph’s Cherise — a quick-witted amateur musicologist with dreams of writing and performing her own compositions — became a favorite among fans and critics alike.

“Randolph is the show’s stealth star, as Jack Black, in the analogous part, was in the film,” wrote The Times’ TV critic Robert Lloyd in his review of the series. “Cherise’s own minor storyline — weaponizing her taste and making anger aspirational, she decides to form a band — feels potentially major.”

Randolph, a Tony nominee who also gave a singular performance in Netflix’s “Dolemite Is My Name,” specifically cherished the character for breaking stereotypes of Black women onscreen, thanks to things like Cherise’s eclectic musical taste.

“It was really great to have that opportunity to play a character who is authentic and, on top of that, a woman who is unapologetic and says what she feels,” Randolph recently said on The Times’ TV podcast “Can’t Stop Watching.” “And that she does not represent ‘the angry sassy Black girl.’

“That was huge to me,” she continued. “Because when Jack Black [played the character], you’re not thinking he’s an angry, raging white guy, you’re just like, ‘This is a quirky free spirit that has no filter and he feels comfortable around his friends to say how he feels in the moment when he feels it.’” (Randolph was not available for comment on this story.)

“High Fidelity” and “Dolemite Is My Name” star Da’Vine Joy Randolph discusses Black women in Hollywood and the prospects for racial justice in the industry.

July 8, 2020

Zoë Kravitz and Kingsley Ben-Adir in Hulu's "High Fidelity."
Robyn (Zoë Kravitz) and Mac (Kingsley Ben-Adir) in “High Fidelity.”
(Phillip Caruso / Hulu)

The series — originally developed for Disney+ and subsequently moved to Hulu — was canceled earlier this month. (A representative for Hulu did not respond to The Times’ request for comment.)

“From a selfish point of view, I think it’s a shame because I had such a good time working with Zoë,” said Ben-Adir. “From what I read when I first went for it, she elevated it and really brought it to life as an executive producer. She was involved in everything: the tweaks, the rewrites, the edit, the detail, the reshoots, the rock, all of that stuff, that’s all Zoë, a super-talented person in all areas of storytelling, doing her thing.

“I also enjoyed building that relationship with Zoë so much. It’s a little bit heartbreaking because we were playing this Black couple onscreen but no one goes to jail, and no one’s brother or dad is in prison. We were just two Black people in love, and we never spoke about that fact. It’s important for all people to see Black people represented in a way where it’s just like, ‘We’re just normal, we just do regular things too.’”

In response to news of the cancellation, Kravitz, who was not available for comment for this story, posted her gratitude on Instagram: “Thank you for all the love and heart you put into this show. I’m in awe of all of you. And thank you to everyone who watched, loved and supported us.”

“It’s cool,” she added in a comment. “At least Hulu has a ton of other shows starring women of color we can watch. Oh wait.”