Sweet and joyful are common tags for Netflix’s new “Heartstopper.” Based on graphic novels by Alice Oseman, Heartstopper is an adorable series about Charlie and Nick, two teen boys who fall madly in love. The show stars Joe Locke and Kit Connor as Charlie and Nick, while we also have William Gao, Yasmin Finney, Corinna Brown, and Kizzy Edgell in other significant roles.
It has all the regular stuff of an LGBTQ series: a closeted gay kid with internalised homophobia; bullying that LGBTQ people face; low self-esteem that typically queer kids experience; but what was well done is the bisexual representation (and the bisexual colours!) among other things. The other thing that the show did right was essentially about celebrating “queer joy” in all its forms! Nick is discovering himself, dating, and dealing with the complexities of high school politics.
This young adult love story closely replicates the webcomic by Alice Oseman and it’s quite relatable to teens (maybe not all Indian queer teens, but grown ups who didn’t experience the teenage queer years?). The narrative carefully shows the teenage queer discovery process, along with all the nuances a typically high school teen would go through.
It’s not all joy also, cos high school isn’t all joy and neither are teenage years. The show does throw light in how queer people face discrimination, and clearly showing the difference – what lesbian couple Tara and Darcy face is different from what a bisexual man faces and then a gay man and a transgender person. It is all clearly painful nevertheless. Set mostly in High School, there aren’t too many adults in the show, but we have to mention Olivia Colman. She, in the role of a loving and accepting mother, is quite a rarity to see in queer lives in general.
While it is a visual treat with the doodles and graphics, the usage of texting to convey an emotion is so perfect and relatable too! We all have been there, type it all out and then delete delete, clearly shows what teens go through while trying to build relationships in the digital age. The doodles, the yellow sparkles that emerge when the hands of the two leads touch and the cute-sy pink hearts that come out when the character is yearning – all done quite artsy-ly, just like the graphic novel it is borrowed from.
On the whole Heartstopper is a definite breath of fresh air to young teens! It is a gentle one and sure to bring a smile to your face. It is quiet and yet a powerful show that celebrates love, queer joy and self-discovery with the LGBTQ+ community in focus! The show is renewed for a second and third season, so be sure to catch it on Netflix!