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Heartstopper: A must watch this Pride Month

By Nimra Amir, June 24 2022—  

Heartstopper on Netflix, adapted from Alice Osman’s graphic-novel series, follows the story of British students Charlie Spring, played by Joe Locke, and Nick Nelson, played by Kit Conner, as their friendship grows into a wholesome representation of young queer love.

Charlie — after being outed and bullied the previous school year — starts the new school year at the same all-boys school being open about his sexuality but secretly meeting with closeted and toxic Ben Hope, played by Sebastian Croft, in empty libraries and classrooms. But when his relationship with Hope quickly comes to an end, Spring confides in his new friend Nelson, a seemingly straight and popular rugby player — who despite all their differences, is nothing but kind to Spring. 

While Heartstopper is a simple story about how the nerd and popular jock fall in love, this story is an important one in today’s political climate where being queer is considered an “adult” topic censored in classrooms because of legislation like the recent American “Don’t Say Gay” bill and reserved for shows like HBO’s Euphoria or Netflix’s Elite that hyperfocus on queer trauma. 

Heartstopper does not limit itself to these confines and instead explores what it means to be young and queer and the changes that both bring.

For Nelson, the more time he spends with Spring — who at his invitation, joins the rugby team — the more he feels himself changing. The prospect that the identity he has held for the entirety of his life is changed in a matter of weeks is not only confusing but also scary since it complicates the relationship he has with many of the other rugby players. 

But it is not just Nelson who goes through the changes of being young and queer. The rest of the diverse cast of Heartstopper goes through changes of their own. Tara Jones, played by Corinna Brown, for example, at the neighbouring all-girls school notices a change in how she is being treated by those she had spent her whole life around once she goes public with her lesbian relationship. 

It is not a change that either of them goes through alone. They have the support of their partners, their friends, their family, and even trusted adults at school like Mr. Ajayi, played by Fisayo Akinade.

It is this support that subdues the anxiety of these changes that come with being young and queer which Heartstopper captures so perfectly. It does not glamourize by any means but gives the characters time to enjoy their youth through moments of holding hands with someone you love or watching movies with your friends. 

These moments in the show —- brought to life with the animated sparks and flower petals, reminiscent of the graphic novel that it is based upon —- show that changes are not the end of the world, even though they may feel that way in high school.

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