By David T. Valentin
After finally finishing Netflix’s hit series Heartstopper, I could say confidently it deserves all the praise and attention it’s getting and more over the next few years. It’s safe to say that Heartstopper will most definitely have an impact on queer pop cultural media in the coming years, as well as an impact on an entire generation of queer children.
For those who’ve been living under a rock the past week, Heartstopper follows the story of two boys, Charlie Spring and Nick Nelson falling in love. The first season, from the moment it starts to the very last closing moments of the last episode, is packed with wholesome queer representation. While not shying away from the ugly side of being a queer teenager in high school, the show always has this comforting feeling and tone where you know, no matter how badly shit hits the fan, that everything will be all right.
Back in 2016 as a closeted college Sophomore, I discovered Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper comics on her Tumblr blog when she was just a few chapters into the story. I immediately geeked out at the wholesome and adorable vibes the comic gives off with its easy to binge, simple art style and relatable story of a boy meeting another boy and falling in love.
Even when single and hoping I’d fall adorably in love with someone the same way Charlie and Nick do, I found myself appreciating my own group of queer friends that I had met back in high school and found myself reminiscing of us just getting through an all boy’s high school as queer people. Until reading Heartstopper, I never realized before how lucky I was to have such a tight knit friend group that genuinely and goofily cared for each other, sort of like how Charlie and all his friends are.
When I heard a Netflix series was in the works for Heartstopper, I never for a second thought it would be a poor adaptation of the source material. With Alice Oseman’s dedication to her work and the genuineness she gave off through her posts as someone dedicated to making people smile through her work, I knew I had nothing to worry back.
Fast forward to 2022 and I couldn’t be more right.
What was refreshing to see was teenagers who actually look the part playing awkward, silly teenagers instead of people who looked like they were pushing 25. The accurate casting added to the immersive feel of spiraling you immediately back into your High School days and reminding you how positively cringy and awkward you might have been. I don’t say that at all in a bad way, but more so in the way that it’s rare to see teenagers on screen without being portrayed as these stoic, angsty people philosophizing as if they just took their first philosophy 101 course. From the dialogue to even the jokes (the mom jokes especially), the show made you feel like these kids didn’t have all the answers to their problems, but they were okay with that.
On top of that, It was scary good to see how accurate the casting was to every character almost as if every actor was literally born to play these characters. Not only was the casting accurate, but the show was literally adapted panel by panel with only perhaps a few variations between maybe where characters spoke to one another or something. I mean, you can literally go on Instagram right now and see hundreds of fan edits of the show and the comics side by side. It’s literally a dream come true.
I’ll probably write more detailed discussions on the show, on how the change of medium actually improved the story for me. But I thought I’d keep it here because there’s so much good to talk about the beauty that is Heartstopper. If you haven’t seen it yet, you just have to. There’s something in there for everybody and I guarantee you’ll find at least one comfort character.