By Kay McCray | September 11, 2023
Heartstopper, a Netflix adaptation of the graphic novels by Alice Oseman, is a heartwarming drama following Charlie Spring and Nick Nelson. Charlie Spring is known to be gay and constantly bullied for it. Nick Nelson is a popular boy on the rugby team, and straight as far as everyone is concerned — including himself.
In season one, we see the relationship between Charlie and Nick begin as they transition from friends to something more. The beginning of their love story is not without its challenges, though. Although Charlie is out, Nick is now coming to terms with his sexuality and still trying to figure out exactly what that might be. This leads to them keeping their relationship a secret to give Nick the time he needs to figure things out.
As the season progresses, we see Nick’s journey coming to terms with his bisexuality. In the season finale, Nick and Charlie confirm their boyfriend status after a romantic date on the beach. The way we saw Charlie and Nick’s relationship unfold was beautiful and had me rooting for them from the beginning. Every time we see the two about to touch hands or give the other an adoring look, I couldn’t help but scream out of excitement and anticipation.
Throughout the series, we’re introduced to a number of different characters. Amongst them are, Tara and Darcy, a lesbian couple who are newly out. We’re also introduced to Elle, a trans girl that used to go to Truham, the all-boys school, until she transferred to Higgs. Heartstopper does a great job of showing all the different sides of the LGBTQ+ community and some of the struggles that come with different labels. I enjoyed the fact that the show educated me as well as entertained me.
Another character of note is Isaac, a character that we see having a close relationship with another guy, James. In season two, we see these two having a heart to heart and they share a kiss, which made me squeal because I was rooting for them. However, this kiss wasn’t like the kisses shared with other characters in the show – this kiss made Isaac uncomfortable and confused. Later in the season, we find out that Isaac is actually aromantic and asexual. I feel like this part of the LBTGQ+ community is often forgotten and overlooked so I loved that an asexual character was included.
Lastly, we were introduced to Ben, a boy that Charlie used to hook up with before meeting Nick. Charlie liked Ben, but he was tired of being treated like a secret and being treated poorly if other people were around. After deciding he couldn’t deal with it anymore, Charlie broke up with Ben. Ben is an interesting character because he does like Charlie, he’s just too afraid to come out because he’s worried what his peers would think of him. He pretends not to know Charlie in front of other people because he’s worried that a single interaction, no matter how small, will out him and that he’ll be forced to deal with the homophobia that Charlie endured.
I know that Ben was supposed to be a villain in the show but I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him at times because he’s also struggling with coming to terms with his sexuality. He doesn’t have the same support system as the other characters so he doesn’t feel safe coming out which caused him to mistreat Charlie. I can’t wait to see Ben start to accept himself for who he is in future seasons.
I think Heartstopper does a great job of representing different people in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as showing the problems that people still face when coming out. A lot of people think that just because it’s more socially acceptable to not be straight than it was before, it should be easy to come out and that there’s no reason to still be closeted – especially if you’re young. Heartstopper does a great job at addressing this and showing that even young queer and trans people have to deal with homophobia and transphobia.
Further, I think Heartstopper does a great job of showing you why you shouldn’t assume people’s sexuality. I can admit that even I found myself assuming the sexuality of some characters and being surprised when their true sexuality was revealed, so this was a lesson well learned for me.
All in all, I think everyone should give Heartstopper a watch on Netflix, especially since it’s been renewed for a third season.