geezer cinema/film fatales #90: the assistant (kitty green, 2019)
music friday: the hot 100, august 14 1970

the sixth karen sisco award: high fidelity

[The introduction is largely copied from previous years.]

In 2010, I started a new tradition. I called it the Karen Sisco Award, named after the short-lived television series starring Carla Gugino. Sisco was the character played by Jennifer Lopez in the film Out of Sight, and the series, which also featured Robert Forster and Bill Duke, was on ABC. They made ten episodes, showed seven, and cancelled it. Gugino was ridiculously hot (no surprise there) and the series, based on an Elmore Leonard character, got about as close as anyone did to Leonard’s style until Justified came along.

When I posted an R.I.P. to the show, my son commented, “Every year there is a new favorite Daddy-O show that gets cancelled mid-season. … You have some sort of fixation with doomed shows, did it start with Crime Story or does it come from your upbringing?” (In fairness, Crime Story lasted two seasons.) The Karen Sisco Award exists to honor those doomed shows.

Previous winners were Terriers (2010), Lights Out (2011), Luck (2012), Agent Carter (2016), and Sweet/Vicious (2017).

This year's winner is High Fidelity, which has been cancelled after one season (as is the trend these days, it's always possible someone will take if over and movie it to another outlet, but I'm treating it like it's gone). A couple of months ago, I wrote of High Fidelity, "From a Nick Hornby novel to a film with John Cusack, always very guy-oriented. This version benefits greatly from 1) making the main character a woman, and 2) casting Zoë Kravitz in the role. She's the best thing about it, although the supporting cast is appealing, as well. Never quite essential, but often fun to watch."

I doubt it means anything, but I notice the last three award winners were centered on women. High Fidelity had another marker. As Kravitz said on Instagram, "It's cool. At least Hulu has a ton of other shows starring women of color we can watch. Oh wait."

Some people seemed to think it pointless to make Rob, the main character, a woman of color. Merely substituting Kravitz for Cusack/Hornby was too easy. But in this case, as with so much of Hornby's work (and I am a fan), the perspective is very much male, and so Kravitz's Rob had automatic resonance. That she was so good helped, of course. The supporting cast offered a few hopefully-future stars in Da'Vine Joy Randolph and David H. Holmes. Parker Posey appeared in a good episode that had its roots in the novel (and made the cutting-room floor of the movie). Debbie Harry has a fun cameo as a nod to Bruce Springsteen's appearance in the film. And Natasha Lyonne directed an episode.

Without access to Hulu's ratings, I can't say if High Fidelity bombed. There's no apparent reason for why it didn't get a second season. But it should have.

I can't let Zoë leave us with her show cancelled, so here is her appearance earlier in the year on Hot Ones:

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