I binged Heartstopper in two days. I thought it was fantastic. Then I saw my friend Jay’s thoughts on Facebook. Jay is one of my smarter, more insightful friends, and I keep telling him that his thoughts on TV and movies are well written enough to be on a blog that I encourage him to start. Until he does, I am going to keep asking to use his FB posts on my blog! I love his thoughts on Hearstopper:
I binged Heartstopper, a LGBTQ high school (aka year 10 and 11 for the Brits where it’s set) drama series based off a webcomic. Honestly, pretty good. Its closest parallel is easily Love, Victor on Hulu/Disney+, but even those are vastly different shows (probably because of the cultures they’re set in), so Heartstopper is really still a unique show.
(And I’m honestly surprised Netflix did not hold onto it until Pride month).
It’s a story about a group of 14-16 year old’s coming into themselves and their sexualities in a manner that most real kids are likely to go through. What sets Heartstopper apart is that they really don’t get into topics of sex as much as relationships, romance, hierarchies, and friendships. Sex isn’t even explicitly ever brought up and I think this is very realistic to the way it’s being handled for kids this age. Contrast this to the way it’s handled in Love, Victor, and I think I prefer Heartstopper.
It’s also nice to see a very talented cast of teenagers played by actual teenagers. Considering this is a British based show especially, I applaud the decision to cast trans actor Yasmin Finney as the character of Elle, who also gets established as trans early on in the show. She’s one of the more interesting cast members, and I hope she gets more screentime should the show continue.
This is very much the anti-Euphoria of teen shows, too. The kids are smart and well adjusted. They’re just navigating their relationships and sexualities. It’s actually nice, too, to see a show where the gay kids are able to be out and not abused or kicked out of their homes or even have it be an issue. As far as we can tell, all the leads are from happy homes. There’s even a moment when one character comes out to his mother and it’s rather sentimental.
Especially in terms of gay kids, it’s also interesting that the show approaches, albeit in a small way, what can happen if a kid comes out wrong or doesn’t come out at all, and what that does to their mental state. Lead character Nick has an ex, Sebastian, who’s still in the closet, and he’s about as abusive and gaslighting as they come, if not even questionably a future rapist. I know we’re supposed to dislike him, but I do wish they would have explored his character more. There may be issues we haven’t seen as to why he’s this way.
I will say that the one downside to Heartstopper is that I find it oddly paced and slow at times. I know I’m in the extreme minority here, as everyone keeps talking about how perfectly paced it is.
I agree with Jay’s review! I would also like to add that the supportiveness of the main character’s dad was wonderful to see on the big screen. That is his son, someone that he is ready to defend against anyone that tries to hurt him. Charlie’s sister is also an insightful and fun character, almost acting as a narrator at times.
See Heartstopper on Netflix if you haven’t already. I am getting ready to binge it a second time, it is that good. And we are waiting to hear if there will be a season two, the good news is, there is more material from the author, Alice Oseman, so based on the success of this first season, I predict a second season will go into production any day now!
Cast and characters (thanks Wikipedia!):
-Joe Locke as Charles “Charlie” Spring, a year 10 student at Truham Grammar School who was recently outed
-Kit Connor as Nicholas “Nick” Nelson, a popular year 11 rugby player at Truham Grammar School seated next to Charlie in form class
-William Gao as Tao Xu, Charlie’s protective best friend
-Yasmin Finney as Elle Argent, Charlie and Tao’s friend who transferred to Harvey Greene Grammar School for Girls (nicknamed Higgs) after coming out as transgender
-Corinna Brown as Tara Jones, a Higgs student who befriends Elle
-Kizzy Edgell as Darcy Olsson, Tara’s girlfriend and a friend of Elle’s
-Tobie Donovan as Isaac Henderson, an introverted member of Charlie, Tao, and Elle’s friend group
-Jenny Walser as Victoria “Tori” Spring, Charlie’s older sister
-Sebastian Croft as Benjamin “Ben” Hope, Charlie’s first boyfriend
-Cormac Hyde-Corrin as Harry Greene, a popular boy on the Rugby team who is a bully
-Rhea Norwood as Imogen Heaney, one of Nick’s friends from Higgs, who has a crush on Nick
-Fisayo Akinade as Mr Ajayi, an art teacher who looks out for Charlie
-Chetna Pandya as Coach Singh, a P.E teacher and the Rugby Coach who looks out for Charlie
-Stephen Fry as the voice of Headmaster Barnes, the Headteacher of Truham Grammar School
-Olivia Colman as Sarah Nelson, Nick’s mother
And because I love this show so much, here is another video, because they are all so cute!