‘Heartstopper’ the most realistic representation of queer teenage lives


Netflix Media Center

Míriam Sierra

The Netflix adaptation of “Heartstopper,” the popular graphic novel and webcomic series written and drawn by artist Alice Oseman, released April 22. So far, the show has been a total success.

After months of several controversies towards the popular streaming platform regarding their constant canceling of shows, this new drama has brought attention back to Netflix.

According to Forbes, “Heartstopper” is currently the company’s highest-scoring critic and audience in ages.

The 8 episode series tells a beautiful and healthy story of queer love. Charlie Spring, played by Joe Locke, is a gay high school student labeled as a nerd and an outcast. He was bullied after being outed by his fellow classmates and hasn’t succeeded in healthy romantic relationships.

He then meets rugby team captain Nick Nelson, played by Kit Connor, who is the stereotypical portrayal of heterosexual masculinity.

The two start a beautiful and genuine friendship that grows into  romance.

What is so important about this story —and one of the reasons for its popularity —is the healthy and real depiction of queer teenage lives. The audience follows Nick on his journey of discovering and accepting his bisexuality.

Journeys of other characters are shown as well, such as Darcy and Tara, a lesbian couple in an all-girls school and Elle, a transgender girl who recently transferred from an all-boys school.

The broad representation that Oseman’s story serves for the LGBTQ+ community is something many were appreciative of.

“I found it impossible, then, not to be moved by Netflix’s new school drama Heartstopper which should be considered one of the most important LGBTQ+ shows ever made,” Owen Jones said for The Guardian. “It’s important to stress that it was not made for a geriatric millennial like me. It is squarely aimed at teenagers, which is one reason it is so pivotal.”

Another important thing about the show is it depicts a realistic portrayal of teenage lives and struggles, without being overly dramatic and with a cast of school-age actors.

Unlike shows such as “Euphoria” or “Élite,” there is no place for sex and drugs, which is a pivotal part of its success. Users online have heavily criticized such shows for portraying unrealistic and overdramatic teenage lives that nobody can relate to.

The story of self-discovery, genuine friendship and healthy love in “Heartstopper” is refreshing.

The representation of the LGBTQ+ community is also unmatched and leaves no place for queerbating, giving a huge voice and platform to queer actors. According to the author herself, “the casting process was strict in that all actors have to match the character’s sexuality and race.”

Fans online have been praising the show and its casting directors for that same reason.

“Sorry obsessed w the fact that both the writer and director of “Heartstopper” insisted on Elle being played by a black trans actress, it always makes me so happy to see creators paying attention to their casting and doing right by their characters,” one user tweeted.

The show has been a great help for young adolescents on their own journeys of self-discovery. Fans around the world are using the story and some of its scenes to come to terms with their sexuality and identity.

Esme, a fan of the show, went viral on Twitter after coming out to her family using one of the show’s most dramatic scenes.

Without a doubt, “Heartstopper” is settling as one of the most compelling stories of our generation, dealing with heavy topics such as bullying, trauma, gender and sexuality identity and the struggles of first relationships in such a healthy way that is joyous to watch.

With its popularity, there is hope for telling realistic stories of the LGBTQ+ community, told from their perspectives without falling into stereotypical dramatic narratives. Oseman’s story helps normalize these perspectives in a world where the media has been focused on cisheteronormative stories.

“Heartstopper” is the cute and cliché comfort show the LGBTQ+ community has been lacking for decades. It’s a reflection of our changing society, and how younger generations are more open about their struggles.

While the show is currently streaming its first season on Netflix, the graphic novels are a success. The author is regularly updating the beautiful story of Nick and Charlie and their friends with free access on several online platforms. Anyone interested can follow the story while waiting for the announcement of a second season.