Heartstopper? Heart, Stopped: New LGBTQIA+ Netflix Show

Lindsey Morrison

What started as a black and white web novel has turned to color! Netflix has brought this wonderfully accurate and painful story of two 15-year-old boys navigating their feelings in an all-boys grammar school (high school in the U.K) to life! Not only does this show have an amazing story, but it also features age-appropriate and queer actors! The web cartoon Heartstopper illustrated and written by Alice Oseman centers around LGBTQIA+ teenage lives, including all the heartbreaking and loveable bits. 

Charlie Spring and Nick Nelson’s relationship begins with Nick inviting Charlie to join the rugby team. This brings forth memories of Charlie’s past year as he came out as gay and suffered from severe bullying, mainly from the rugby team. As Nick and Charlie’s relationship blossoms, we watch as Nick learns about Charlie’s experiences and as Nick begins to discover his own sexuality as well. Their friendship is a fast-paced one with Charlie practically falling in love with Nick’s dog Nellie (and Nick himself, of course) and begins to cherish their time together while blushing profusely. 

Mrs. Loccke, an English teacher at Ramapo High School, speaks about how important representation is, especially to young teens who are still figuring out their identity: “ I can’t see any downside to more shows that give more people who are marginalized representation. […] Especially in high school, it is the most painful part of the journey because of the intense pressure kids feel to conform to heternormative experiences.” Heartstopper will undoubtedly help young teens learn about queer life, and hopefully make their environment feel more comfortable. Learning about LGBTQIA+ through a show (such as Heartstopper) is an amazing introduction; Alice Osemon writes from her own perspective and experiences, creating a remarkable storyline born from tears and love. 

Joe Locke plays Charlie Spring opposite Kit Conner as Nick Nelson, and the pair are incredibly well equipped to play these characters. Locke himself had been bullied at his high school, and both actors have recently been in high school, making the casting age-appropriate. Locke has talked a myriad of times about how wonderful having a diverse cast is and how it “adds an element of truth and reality to the show.” (Attitude.co.uk). Kit Conner expresses his love for another castmate, Yasmin Finney, describing her acting as “Yas is one of the best performances in the show, honestly; one of the ones I enjoyed the most” (Attitude.co.uk). Finney has a particularly special role as she and her character share important similarities. Osemon mentioned that she only wanted a person of color who was also a transgender female to play a character named Elle in the story, and Finney fit that role perfectly. Every actor has wonderfully portrayed their character while also putting their own flare to it, with help from Osemon as well. 

A Ramapo student vocalized their thoughts about Heartstopper, exclaiming that it “is different because it makes a realistic high school experience while dealing with finding yourself. Other shows will limit the amount of LGBTQ characters but Heartstopper doesn’t hold back, which is what makes the show so wonderfully different.” Heartstopper shows the most realistic aspects of high school life while struggling with sexuality which stands out compared to most other queer shows.

Heartstopper exhibits a wonderful story about love, friendship, loyalty, hardships, and mental illness. This show promotes great LGBTQIA+ characters with endearing personalities and their respective hardships. Heartstopper demonstrates real queer teenage relationships, showing many that happiness comes from who you truly are. Alice Osemon was with the cast through the entire filming process which creates an incredible authenticity to the characters and their actions. Heartstopper will absolutely run away with your heart and do it with a cheeky smile. If you finish the show and are left wanting more, you can read the webcomics on Webtoon, Tapas, Tumblr, or purchase from Amazon and stores like Barnes and Nobles. If that is still not enough for you, Osemon has written short light novels about Nick and Charlie as well, and I suggest you check out her other works! 

 This show and web novel has a content warning for use of homophibic slurs, homophobia, bullying, sexual assault, self harm, and eating disorders. Alice Osemon urges you to proceed with caution if any of these topics might trigger you. The web novel has the most trigger warnings such as eating disorders and self harm, while the tv show mainly shows bullying, homophobia, and sexual assault.