Heartstopper review: one of Netflix’s warmest original series

Heartstopper is Netflix’s newest series, based on Alice Oseman’s tumblr-originated webcomic of the same name. It’s a modern story of two teen British boys falling in love with each other, and it stands out as something incredibly special.

Heartstopper is centered around Nick Nelson and Charlie Spring. After they’re sat next to each other in class, the pair develop a strong friendship and eventually fall in love. Charlie, has been bullied relentlessly for being gay at school, and Nick is only just now having his “proper full on gay crisis”. The side characters also include a lesbian couple trying to deal with homophobia at an all girls school, and the rest of Charlie’s friend group.

Going into it, I wasn’t as excited for Heartstopper like many of my friends were. I had seen tons of TikTok edits of the show on my For You Page and had no idea what was going on. My whole feed was flooded with clips of these two aggressively British men frolicking in the snow. After consulting the friend group, I found out that Heartstopper actually started on Tumblr as a comic strip series in 2016. I have no idea how I missed that considering I was very active on Tumblr back then and didn’t start going outside until recently, but at least I got to watch the show with a fresh mind.

Simply put, I was captivated by this series. The characters feel so real and genuine to a young LGBT+ experience. While not everyone has their own gay love story when they’re 15, the struggles and little facets of life are captured well. The show made me quite emotional because of how innocent and friendly everything felt. It is so important to have LGBT+ representation and stories in TV and film that isn’t very outwardly sexual, like a lot of the media I was exposed to when I was middle school. There’s a lack of obvious explicit language, alcohol, etc, making it intensely family friendly. Heartstopper feels like something that could truly make a young queer person’s life better after watching. It covers serious topics like homophobia, transphobia, and eating disorders, without it feeling like you’re just watching younger kids being traumatized for 20 minutes. In comparison to another gay European Netflix series, Young Royals, I felt much less stressed the entire time while watching.

Cast of Heartstopper

Another plus of the series is diversity and representation. While it stars two white men, and diversity still has a long way to go in gay stories being told currently, I was pleasantly surprised. It features an interracial lesbian couple as well as many other POC characters in the main cast. One of the main storylines involves a trans character, and it doesn’t center around the character being trans at all. The character just simply is trans. I really appreciated this sort of representation in Heartstopper because it normalizes things that should already be considered normal and avoids queerbaiting in the side plots like many modern TV shows. LGBT+ stories deserve to be told, period, but LGBT+ people also deserve stories told that represent them, but are unrelated to their sexuality or gender identity.

Finally, Heartstopper is just generally a very visually appealing piece of media. I’ve never noticed the use of color theory more in anything that I’ve watched recently. Every shot and color grading choice in each scene feels meaningful and adds something huge to the viewing experience. I feel like it definitely adds to the warmth that the series exudes. Paired with the soundtrack, Heartstopper has an unmatched energy compared to many other shows of its kind. The soundtrack consists of mostly British indie artists, such as Baby Queen and Orla Gartland. It also includes some iconic tracks from Waterparks and Girl in Red. The soundtrack by itself was super cohesive and managed to give Heartstopper its own signature sound. I know some others may not enjoy this, but I personally love when a series has an abundance of scenes that I can immediately associate with a certain song.

In conclusion, Heartstopper is a must-watch and convinced me of its status as one of Netflix’s most critically acclaimed releases in recent years. It hits the queer coming of age beats so well without purely focusing on trauma like many other pieces of media. It made me feel warm and happy after watching it, and I’m glad current young kids will grow up with this series.

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