LGBTQ+ Representation: Heartstopper

Hannah Dowaliby, Copy Editor

Hearstopper is a webcomic, book series, and Netflix adaptation written by award-winning author, illustrator, and screenwriter, Alice Oseman. This heartwarming, queer teen love story has brought representation to LGBTQ+ teens and adults, leaving people wondering when, exactly, the next season will come out next.

Ever since its release on Netflix on April 22nd, Heartstopper has completely enraptured its audience, and personally, I am not an exception. The story takes place in Britain, where you meet the protagonist, Charlie Spring. He attends an all boys grammar school, called Truham Grammar School for Boys. It isn’t long before you meet Charlie’s love interest and fellow protagonist, Nicholas Nelson, or Nick, for short.

After this, the story unfolds. The show follows Nick and Charlie the closest, but you are also introduced to other characters, such as Tao, Elle, Darcy, and Tara, to name a few. Despite the show’s appearances, it actually touches on more than just the bubbling romance between Nick and Charlie. Heartstopper does something that other shows and movies I have seen before don’t dare to do; it addresses heavier topics that come along with being a part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Naturally, these topics are heavier—for example, throughout a few episodes of the show, you can see Nick struggle to come to terms with his identity, and, in his words, he has a “full on, gay crisis”—and in honesty, it is relieving to see them being brought up. Not only do we see one of the main characters grappling with their own identity, but we also see Charlie deal with homophobia and bullying from his peers. Though tragic in its own right, we get to see a very real and honest representation of an experience that most LGTBQ+ individuals have likely faced.

Aside from heavy topics, Heartstopper does an excellent job naturally fleshing out characters and making them feel real. These characters include Tao, Charlie’s best friend, who serves as an overprotective and fearless contrast to Charlie’s shy and introverted behavior. We are introduced to Elle, a trans woman trying to navigate her own life in a new environment, having been recently transferred from Truham to Harvey Greene Grammar School for Girls.

Overall, Heartstopper is truly an adorable and absolutely excellent story which gives LGBTQ+ individuals feeling fulfilled with representation that is a much needed breath of fresh air. The simplicity of Alice Oseman’s “boy meets boy, boys become friends, boys fall in love” story is finally, in my opinion, exactly what teen culture needed. Even those who are not LGBTQ+ have found this story fulfilling and wholesome—an absolute heartthrob. Heartstopper is a show that makes you empathize with the characters and their struggles, and it shines light on problems that are rarely ever talked about in the media. It immerses you into their story, making each new character feel like a real, genuine human being. This show is, put in the simplest terms, relatable, and worth the watch.

Afterall, Alice Oseman herself said it best. “Maybe tomorrow I’ll believe in something other than boys on a screen.”