‘Heartstopper’: a modern heartfelt rom-com



By Mallory Atack, Reporter

One of the newest hit shows from Netflix, “Heartstopper” is stopping the hearts of all their viewers. With only eight episodes at around 30 minutes each in the first season, “Heartstopper” is a fast paced, light hearted watch that was recently renewed by Netflix for not only another season, but two more.

Starring Joe Locke as Charlie Spring as the main character and Kit Connor as Nick Nelson as his love interest, “Heartstopper” is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alice Oseman. It’s a bit cheesy, and surface level, but if straight people can have their silly rom-coms, so should we!

It’s can be a bit tiring to continue getting love stories between gay white men that count as “representation,” but “Heartstopper” makes up for it a bit, in a way the other shows don’t, with their diverse cast of supporting characters.

One of the sub-plots follows Yasmin Finney as Elle Argent, a trans girl and friend of Charlie’s who switched to the girls’ school recently and is working on making friends. Elle is a personal favorite of mine, especially because she’s played by an actual trans actor. It’s lovely seeing a trans character, especially a black trans character, that can just have silly high school problems without having to watch her face terrible transphobic trauma like many other shows would likely focus on. Elle can just have crushes on boys, watch movies, and give relationship advice to her friends like any other teenage girl could; her trans identity isn’t the only facet of her character that the viewer sees, it isn’t even revealed initially when we meet Elle.

Tara and Darcy, played by Corinna Brown and Kizzy Edgell respectively, are a lesbian couple whom Elle ends up befriending. Hearing Tara and Darcy talk about their sexualities as lesbians casually and happily was something similarly unique. Frequently in media, people shy away from talking about lesbians without the characters becoming overly sexualized for the interest of male viewers, or even having their sexualities ignored completely from the inexplicable fear that media seems to have of the word “lesbian.”

It’s the type of sweet high school rom-com that this generation deserves, detailing the growth of a high school relationship with cute details referencing the original graphic novels. Little doodles by Alice Oseman floating through scenes added to the wholesome feeling, especially the beloved doodles of autumn leaves floating around and between the characters throughout the show.

Similarly, the editing choices made it seem like the visuals were coming straight from the pages of a graphic novel, like when Charlie has a flashback to a dark memory, and the scene breaks into pieces of fractured glass, making it not only feel more like an illustration but also adding to the emotional characterization of the scene.

Overall, it’s a lovely story that touches on a lot of topics that media often skips over, like bisexual representation (specifically for bi men, a group not often represented in media) and lesbiphobia. It’s not the most groundbreaking or deep show on television now, but it’s able to incorporate a lot of positive LGBTQ+ messages in a show that caters to young teens, providing them with the positivity a lot of us needed at that age.

The teenagers in the show are also able to talk about their thoughts and feelings in an emotionally mature way, which is not only unique, but beneficial for teaching kids that it’s OK to be honest with your feelings and to communicate those emotions effectively.

The graphic novel touches on some darker topics that the show hasn’t mentioned yet, especially regarding mental health. If the future seasons include more of these topics, it could be a great way to add more realistic depictions of mental health into media, but it could be just as good without it. The writers have the capability to add more of the original comic’s depth without weighing down the entire show, so if they choose to include more of a delve into mental health or not, the show is a wonderful and unique example for kids and teens everywhere. Of course, talking about issues like ones in the graphic novels is important, but it’s also important to just have lighthearted shows like “Heartstopper.”

As much as it made me and thousands of other queer kids feel incredibly more lonely and jealous of Nick and Charlie’s relationship, I can’t wait to see what Netflix, Alice Oseman, and the rest of the “Heartstopper” crew and cast pull together for the next couple seasons. “Heartstopper” is a lovely, family-friendly watch that’s perfect for pride month.