Heartstopper may just possibly be the most wholesome show I’ve ever watched.
Heartstopper is Alice Oseman’s best-selling graphic novel series turned Netflix show that debuted on April 22 to a large, excitedly awaiting fanbase. The LGBTQ+ friendly coming-of-age story follows Charlie Spring, a gay overthinker who starts to crush on his new seat partner and friend Nick Nelson, who is notoriously a straight jock surrounded with similar friends. As the two get closer after Nick convinces Charlie to join the rugby team, they are both forced to confront their feelings for each other when their connection deepens.
Charlie navigates his way through those feelings with the support of his friends — Tao, Elle, Tara, Darcy and Isaac, many of whom are also members of the LGBTQ+ community. Together, they learn from and inspire each other while each individual figures out what they most desire.
Heartstopper flaunts a solid cast with Joe Locke and Kit Connor starring as Charlie and Nick.
The chemistry between the cast made up of actual teenagers intertwined with the cute comic book visuals creates a show that stayed quite loyal to the books, which I also blew through in a short amount of time after watching all eight episodes of the show. With Oseman working as executive producer, Heartstopper can be added to the list of examples for the reason why original authors need to be involved in the production of their books’ shows.
I especially appreciated the little details that stayed the same both in the pages and the screen — from Charlie’s neon sign spelling “Music” above his bed to the scene where Nick’s pen explodes and dyes his hands blue, I can only imagine the joy of the original book fans as they watched this important and even personal narrative come to life on screen.
Though Heartstopper is not the first example of representation of its time, many people have validated it as the perfect gateway show for a younger target audience to learn about and explore sexuality. It may not be groundbreaking — but it’s well done. While the cast might seem like they just stepped out of Oseman’s illustrated pages, the most appealing aspect of the show is ironically how realistic the story is, from the familiar crushing on people you really shouldn’t like, or the tensions that can only exist between the best of friends.
Even outside of sexuality, those feelings we’ve all felt and still feel are so genuinely recognizable in Charlie, Nick and their friends, making this the show’s strength and also the reason why it receives so much love. Avoiding formulaic cliches but still including important themes like prejudice, mental health and bullying, Heartstopper is revolutionary in its own refreshing and authentic way.
Through the story of Charlie and Nick, Heartstopper perfectly captures the nerves and angst of first love that is characteristic of youth, no matter the sexuality or gender. Fitting to its title, your heart will stop watching every shared smile or iconic “Hi” between the boys as they fall, slowly but surely, in love.