In the initial script, the main character lived in Los Angeles and would have worked at a radio station. Kravitz proposed moving it to New York, and into a dusty basement record shop. Those choices, she said, helped determine other aspects of the show, like setting the story in Crown Heights, a part of Brooklyn where a dusty basement record shop and its owner could realistically survive. (Kravitz, who married the actor Karl Glusman last June, has lived in Williamsburg for more than 10 years, long enough to watch gentrification transform it; her favorite bagel shop is now an Apple Store.)
The staff of the record store now consists of two women of color (Kravitz’s Rob and Da’Vine Joy Randolph of “Dolemite Is My Name”) and a shy, gay man (David Holmes). When Rob runs down her top five heartbreaks in flashback, the list includes women as well as men.
None of this, Kravitz said, was about clearing some imaginary bar for wokeness. They just wanted a cast that looked real.
“I was trying to recreate a world that I know,” Kravitz said, “and that’s what it looks like. It doesn’t look like a bunch of white girls, like the show ‘Girls,’” whose portrayal of New York-area hipsterdom struck many viewers — Kravitz included — as demographically specious.
“If that show was in Iowa or something, fine, but you’re living in Brooklyn,” she said. “There’s people of color everywhere. It’s unavoidable. Same thing with Woody Allen — like, how do you not have black people in your movies? It’s impossible. They’re everywhere. We’re everywhere. I’m sorry, but we’re everywhere.”
Kravitz acknowledged that there might be reflexive resistance to the idea of a gender-flipped “High Fidelity,” as there is to gender-flipped anything, among a certain class of consumers. “I think a lot of white men who identified with the book think it’s theirs,” Kravitz said, “and are ready for us to screw it up, and are going to have trouble seeing it in a different light. But I think if they get past that thing, they’ll see that we actually really did honor the property, I think.”