Review: Netflix series ‘Heartstopper’ embraces queer identity with new teen love stories

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Screenshot courtesy of See-Saw Films Instagram

“Heartstopper” enjoyed instant popularity upon debuting on Netflix with lots of critical praise and a spot in the Netflix Top 10.

by Destiny Esparza , Staff Writer

Netflix recently released a new LGBTQ+ romance series “Heartstopper” on April 22, which has received critical praise and rave reviews from viewers on social media.

According to Forbes, the new show has instantly become one of Netflix’s most critically acclaimed series ever, with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 98% audience score.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

This eight-episode series is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alice Osman that follows a group of teenagers attending same-sex schools who encounter first love and the struggles of acceptance from other students.

The show focuses on an openly gay student named Charlie (played by Joe Locke) who meets a rugby player named Nick (played by Kit Conner) during class. Charlie develops a crush on Nick, which slowly sparks a romance between the two.

This quirky teen romance captures the essence of what life is like as a teen as it covers topics such as finding one’s identity and sexuality and having first crushes that will transport viewers back to their adolescent years. The series does this in a light-hearted way that will leave you with butterflies in your stomach and a big grin on your face while watching the show.

Apart from the storyline, the execution of the show is exceptional, which has to do with the author of the book having a big role in the series production.

In an interview with the National World, Oseman spoke about having creative control over the series by creating most of the script and acting as an executive producer.

In the series, you see Oseman’s influence throughout the series, with the comic-like animations to the soundtrack, which made the book come to life.

The addition of comic-like animations tied back to the book in a subtle way with comic panels in-between scene transitions and leaves or flowers when there was a moment of high emotion. It was nice to see a connection back to the book. 

Besides the comic-like animations, the soundtrack was one of the biggest highlights. Some songs like “Don’t Delete the Kisses,” “My Own Person,” and “Tired” matched perfectly and added more depth and emotion to each scene, which made it enjoyable to watch. 

However, there was one song in particular that did an exceptional job capturing the emotion of the scene, which was “Why Am I Like This?” This scene was about Nick Googling if he was gay, after discovering that he might have feelings for boys. During this scene, “Why Am I Like This?” plays in the background giving viewers insight on what Nick was thinking at that moment, which made the scene more emotional. 

It is also refreshing to see a show capture the experiences of LGBTQ+ teens that most films and TV shows miss. The show highlighted the good and the bad of those experiences, making it inclusive and relatable to all viewers. 

After watching the show, many viewers took to social media to share their thoughts on the show.

One viewer took to Twitter and wrote, “I’m crying… this amazing show is everything LGBTQ+ youth needs right now! We all deserve to be loved and representation matters… I’m happy to see how far we are coming, but we need to keep talking about it.”

Another viewer wrote on Twitter, “Such an unexpectedly beautiful and important series. Both Nick and Charlie resonate with me in so many ways. I adore this show.”

Overall, the show was a success, not only in the ratings but for telling a light-hearted queer love story that touches on identity and relationships that teens can resonate with.