“Heartstopper”: A queer, masterful love story



Nick (Kit Connor) and Charlie (Joe Locke) are laughing. The Netflix TV series “Heartstopper” provides amazing LGTBQ+ representation as well as an absolutely charming love story.

Warning: Mild “Heartstopper” spoilers ahead

It is a well-known fact that most book-to-series adaptations are never actually as good as the books, so I was simultaneously excited and terrified for the release of the “Heartstopper” TV show. My expectations were beyond met, as this show depicts similarities to the graphic novels in the best ways possible, from using the exact dialogue to the smallest interactions between the characters. This show is one of the best — and most accurate — book-to-series adaptations I’ve ever watched, thoughtfully diving into the varied experiences and struggles of coming out and finding one’s gender identity — and is a tasteful representation of many groups within the LGBTQ+ community.

The Netflix adaptation of Alise Oseman’s popular “Heartstopper” graphic novels follows two teenage boys attempting to figure out their romantic relationship as one of them discovers his sexuality. We are introduced to two main characters: Nick Nelson, who thought he was straight for his entire life until he became friends with Charlie Spring; and Charlie, who had a crush on Nick when they met on the first day of school.

Nick’s bisexuality is handled with nuance and care — showcasing his constant struggle with accepting himself, due to the lack of representation he had seen in media. The show takes the time to display how Nick feels like he needs to like either girls or boys, questioning himself until he realizes that he is bisexual. With “Heartstopper,” fewer young bisexuals have to question themselves like Nick did because Nick can be the representation that can show them that they are not alone. “Heartstopper” does a brilliant job of demonstrating the fear and alienation almost every gay person has to go through. It teaches people who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community to show empathy toward people who come out, as a little kindness can go a long way.

But, “Heartstopper” is primarily a sweet story of young love. I often found myself smiling uncontrollably whenever Nick and Charlie would talk to each other — you can easily see just how much they care for one another. They bring out the best in each other, which makes you long for them to be together. The show is full of cute moments between the two, such as Charlie teaching Nick to play the drums, or the both of them sharing a milkshake together. This wholesome depiction of their love is truly refreshing to see.

Nick and Charlie’s love story is captivating because of the drama and suspense that the show depicts through both of their insecurities. Charlie’s insecurities about never being loved before and Nick’s constant questioning of his sexuality are frustrating — but that is what makes you want to keep watching. All you want is to find out if they make it as a couple.

The show’s depiction of Charlie’s experiences with bullying after coming out as gay is both unflinching and deeply compassionate: We see him spend most of his freshman year eating alone in an empty classroom to avoid severe bullying, and it draws the viewer in by creating a sense of understanding between the character and the viewer. We also see this with Elle Argent, Charlie’s friend, who spoke out about how she was bullied her previous year for being transgender. The show dives deep into each of the characters’ different lives and backgrounds, making it easy to find a character to relate to. Gay characters have often been sidelined and have little development beyond being the “gay best friend,” which makes the prevalence of these LGBTQ+ characters in “Heartstopper” notable. It’s telling the audience that gay people are important enough to be the main character.

My sole critique of the show is that the coming-out process becomes the whole show. This creates a small problem because that makes the coming out process the major part of the story — because at the end, the character is finally at peace with being out and not having to repress their feelings. You never get to see much of the aftermath of their relationship and it makes it seem like the only hardship about being gay is the coming out process. However, this can definitely change if the show is renewed for a second season — which is rumored to happen — as it will allow more time for Nick and Charlie’s relationship to grow and develop.

“Heartstopper” is definitely a show you should take the time to watch, as its love story is both enchanting and winsome, leaving the viewer full-hearted. It is definitely a show to binge-watch, as you will find yourself reluctant to leave your seat.