Made my heart stop

Netflix’s love letter to the LGTBQ+ community


photo courtesy of Netflix

Adapted from the graphic novels by young adult author Alice Oseman, Netflix released its latest romance series titled, “HeartStopper.”

Quinn Burton, Staff Reporter

“Heartstopper.” The emotional graphic novels about identity, friendship, and first love have been adapted into a heartwarming new series on Netflix. Starring Kit Connor and Joe Locke, it tells the story of Nick and Charlie who discover their unlikely friendship might be something more as they navigate their way through high school and young love in this coming-of-age story.

Jumping into the first episode, we see Charlie Spring (Joe Locke)  beginning his sophomore year at the Truman School for Boys in England. However, this year marks a new beginning, as Charlie hopes to escape the severe bullying he experienced his freshman year after coming out as gay. On his first day back, Charlie feels the nerves rushing through his body as he walks through the halls of a school that had previously brought him resentment; however, everything changes when he meets Nick Nelson (Kit Connor). After being paired together in their first block English class, Charlie and Nick quickly become friends; talking day after day Charlie soon begins to fall for Nick. However, Charlie doesn’t think he has a chance and dismisses it as “pining after a straight boy he can’t ever have”. But over the series, romance does blossom, and Nick and Charlie discover there’s a strong community of friends and allies around them.

The most impressive part of this teenage crush and sexual awakening story between two young men is its broad appeal and normalcy. Another message of just being yourself and ignoring the bullies in life is so effectively powerful and meaningful especially to any young person of any gender or sexuality who is experiencing the ups and downs of adolescence. 

As Charlie finally surcomes to his feelings for Nick he begins to navigate through his newfound bisexuality. The queer representation feels good to watch for LGBTQ+ teens because it feels accurate and is executed perfectly. From the way the kids text and joke to the infamous “am i gay” Google search, it feels true to life.

Aside from Nick and Charlie, other queer characters were excellently represented throughout the show. Elle Argent, a friend of Nick’s, is a transgender girl who transferred to Harvey Greene Grammar School for Girls following her transition and bullying from her peers. I must admit I didn’t pick up on that first viewing, but it fits so well into the story. Played by Yasmin Finley, who herself is trans which in and of itself is amazing to see, but the refreshing part lies in her budding romance with her best friend, Tao

Tao, who is the straight ally in the show, finds love in a place he never expected to. He and Elle have been friends for years. However, it wasn’t until they saw Nick find love that they pursued each other. Personally, I enjoyed watching their relationship develop even more than Nick and Charlie.  There is so much affection shared between the characters tied into a light-hearted and compelling story. 

The casting is superb and just feels so genuine. Kit Connor and Joe Locke ace every scene. Admittedly some of the dialogue is cheesy, but you’re watching a teen romance series so just let it slide. Kit is great at portraying the conflicting emotions and brings Nick to lift, and I just love Joe’s acting of the gay anxious panic in almost every scene.

Throughout the entirety of the series, each episode was a roller coaster that made me feel as if I was reading someone’s personal diary. However, this story is nothing new. It is the same love story shared between two people; the only change is that the relationship is shared between two male actors. It’s nothing new, but it’s something that I want to see in the future because it shows such a relatable and realistic story. And to anyone struggling with their sexuality or gender identity, it normalizes their feelings and allows them to feel accepted in the world.