Heartstopper tells a charming and beautiful story about a group of LGBTQ+ teens coming of age. It was created and written by Alice Oseman, based on her graphic novel. It stands as a positive and heart-swelling example of what teen stories like this ought to be.
Heartstopper features a terrific ensemble cast, many in their first acting gig. The story starts with already out gay boy Charlie (Joe Locke) and builds out from him. At the beginning of the series, he’s busy kissing a boy who likes him in secret and ignores him in public.
Charlie meets Nick (Kit Connor) and hearts flutter. However Nick is on the rugby team and Charlie assumes he’s straight. But he can’t help having a crush.
Charlie has a group of loyal old friends. There’s bookish Isaac (Tobie Donovan) and the two pictured here. Elle (Yasmin Finney) was at the boys school last term, but is now enrolled in the girls school. Having a happy, accepted trans teen in the story is one of its most beautiful parts. The other friend above is Tao (William Gao). Tao is a protector to Elle and to Charlie, even though he isn’t the toughest guy around.
Charlie has a supportive dad (Joseph Balderrama) and funny sister (Georgina Rich) at home. Nick’s mom (Olivia Colman) might or might not support his choices. What choices? Well, as Charlie and Nick get more acquainted, Nick realizes he has feelings for Charlie, too.
Nick was pretty sure he’d liked girls in the past, so liking Charlie gave him a lot to think about. His search history involved a lot of questions including the word bisexual. He figured it out by the end of the season.
Elle makes friends with Darcy (Kizzy Edgell) and Tara (Corinna Brown) at the girls school. Darcy’s been out as a lesbian for a while, but Tara is just taking that step because of her relationship with Darcy. Tara is having issues with how she’s perceived now.
There are several threads in the self-identity and being true to yourself storylines of this series. They are handled well.
Life isn’t perfect for any of these teens. There’s a particular bully from the rugby team, Harry (Cormac Hyde-Corrin), who causes all sorts of trouble. But there are good people, too. The art teacher, Mr. Ajayi (Fisayo Akinade), is particularly understanding and supportive when Charlie needs to talk.
I would say that all teens should watch this series. But I think all parents should, too. Especially the ones who don’t understand the fluttering hearts of young people who don’t dance to the same drummer they do.
At a time when haters are demonizing, othering, refusing medical care, and relentlessly damaging LGBTQ+ youth, series like this are so needed. The sweet innocence of these young people, their joy, and their humanity are examples everyone needs to see.
Euros Lyn directed all 8 episodes. The series is on Netflix.