Rarely has a series carried its name so well. In French, “heartstopper” means “coup de coeur” and it’s hard not to win over this offbeat teen romance. In eight 30-minute episodes, this sweet teen drama immerses us in the world of Charlie Spring, a sensitive, introverted and openly gay young man, and Nick Nelson, a new classmate and high school rugby player. by Truham Grammar. The two teens develop a friendship that soon turns out to be a little more than that. Surprised by her feelings for Charlie, Nick questions her sexuality. Around these two stars, she attracts many minor characters, notably Elle Argent, who started her freshman year at Higgs Girls’ High School, after she moved in. Away from her group of friends, she forges new bonds with two high school girls, Tara and Darcy, who are secretly dating.
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Here, there are no drugs or alcohol, but scenes of wonderful kisses, afternoons at the cinema with sweaty palms, bowling, drinking a lot of milkshake … Soon we introduce “Heartstopper” as an antidote – “ecstasy”. But if teenage dramas choose a radically different style in form, they are not far apart in substance. Like Euphoria, the Alice Oseman series (who is only 27 years old to adapt her graphic novel here) attempts to realistically copy the great feelings experienced by its characters. And to enhance LGBTQ+ representation on screens.
Male bisexuality takes center stage
“Euphoria” has taken the side of representing queer characters without going into detail in its reflection on their sexual orientation. The “Heartstopper” makes the opposite choice and deals with this topic head-on, by questions to Nick, who he thought was heterosexual before meeting Charlie. During a (actually cult) scene from Episode 6, the young man is in a “bi-panic” (a humorous expression referring to the panic state of a bisexual facing his or her attraction to another person – we also note that the anxious Charlie has a “homosexual panic” wallpaper on his phone iPhone). As he watches “Pirates of the Caribbean” (2003) with his mother, his close-up shot of Keira Knightley is transmitted to Orlando Bloom with similar enthusiasm. ranking Spread on social media . Many LGBTQ+ people who have experienced a similar appearance while watching a movie or series may have recognized Nick in this scene.
The sequence also echoes Adam in “Sex Education” (S02E05), in which the teen masturbates in his room in front of a poster, alternately looking at a sexy woman and a man. It’s rare for bisexual male characters to appear on screens, representing female bisexuality even more. If the characters of Nick and Adam do share their sexual orientation, the song “Heartstopper” breaks up a trope found in “Sex Education”, the bully-athlete persona. In fact, before he started a relationship with Eric, Adam had been a persecutor of him for years. “Heartstopper” transforms this homophobic athlete stereotype into Nick. Her relationship with Charlie isn’t rooted in trauma like this, which is refreshing. We know that high school sports circuits (and not only) lead to homophobia and violent behaviour. The series doesn’t hesitate to show that some of Nick’s friends are problematic in this regard, as it awakens trauma to Charlie who suffered from school bullying the previous year. What’s new in “Heartstopper” is that Nick is there to point the finger at their toxic masculinity and to emphasize that one can be a famous athlete in their high school, without being a homophobe.
The gay romance between Nick and Charlie isn’t the show’s only drama. We also follow the exit of lesbians Tara and Darcy, who have decided not to hide their high school romance and will face a variety of different reactions (encouraging, embarrassing, xenophobic), which overwhelm them. The relationship between two teenage girls serves as a mirror to the relationship between Nick and Charlie. Fortunately, this important subplot (there are far fewer lesbians than gay teen fantasies) is handled carefully. Tara and Nick open up about their concerns about “gay kids”. The beginning of the romance between Tau and Elle is also plotted. And the series embodies something very real: people from the LGBTQ+ community always end up bonding with one another.
Sunny and colorful theater
The series also follows on the heels of another teen drama, “Love, Victor” (two seasons available on Disney+, the third coming June 2022), and focuses on directed by Victor Salazar, a half Puerto Rican, half Colombian-American family, and their relationship with their first love, Ben. The two shows share the “blue flower” world of intimate romantic comedy. They don’t shy away from the discrimination and harassment experienced by LGBTQ+ teens (Elle’s character markedly changed high school after she was a victim of transphobia), but they do choose to put the inner world, full of hopes and dreams, into their young adult characters. The photography in this series embraces this vision by adopting a color palette in shades of pink and pastels. The moments of strong intimacy between Charlie and Nick are illustrated by the overlay of a few painted planes – leaves, butterflies or lightning as their hands are held together. Alice Osman’s throwback to its source, the comic book (“Heartstopper” was originally a webcomic released on the Tapas platform in 2016, before emerging as a best-selling graphic novel). Executive Producer Patrick Walters described these sequences of intense emotion and happiness as “moments of the heart.” “I love them,” he told Pink News. I hope these moments give you goosebumps and get you off the couch when they happen. »
Mission accomplished: We let the magic of this youthful, unbridled romance drift away, which takes us back to our teenage years, the years of first love and close friendships. The series occasionally touches on serious topics like harassment or loneliness for its characters (notably Elle and Tao), but it’s especially insistent on romance (uh, those text messages started, deleted, corrected…) and a happy ending (few LGBTQ+ characters on screens) Between Nick and Charlie. It’s all in a cheerful, danceable pop playlist, which includes groups like Montaigne (“Because I Love You”), Chvrches (“Clearest Blue”) or Baby Queen (“Want me”), for urgent listening on Spotify or Deezer to deliver Get yourself an energy shot.
“Heartstopper” also has a cast of young actors and actresses to watch in the coming years, starting with the two lovebirds. Both are 18 years old, and beginners Jo Lock and Kate Connor (seen in the series “At the Crossroads of Worlds”) admired the roles of Charlie and Nick. Their chemistry is obvious and makes us feel the great turmoil they are going through. The rest of the cast, composed by William Zhao (Zhao), Jasmine Finney (El) or Corinna Brown (Tara), among others. Icing on Cakes: The great Olivia Colman is also in the game, as Sarah, Nick’s lovable mother.
Social networks are on fire
Unlike other gay dramas like “Love, Victor” or “Young Royals”, which have been kept more secretive, “Heartstopper” is heading for more mainstream success. The series benefits from the enthusiasm of prolific fan Alice Osman (who has already written several novels, we feel like there’s a big deal coming with the American platform…), and from the global vision that Netflix provides. Driven by stellar reviews, teenage romantic comedies Hit on social media from Twitter to TikTok (over 700 million views on the hashtag #heartstoppernetflix) via Instagram, where montages, fan art and memes multiply at the speed of light.
In the face of such public enthusiasm, Netflix shouldn’t procrastinate too much to award Heartstopper Season 2 to it. Alice Osman has already announced in the press that she is inclined to continue the story of Nick, Charlie and their friends, knowing that the first season covers the first two volumes of graphic novels, which contain four. The writer already has a good idea of the topics she’d like to explore further: “If we get other seasons, I’d really like to talk about topics related to mental health, because it’s something so present in novels. The challenge in writing Heartstopper is to explore these dark topics while maintaining a tone. Optimistic and optimistic. The ball is in Netflix’s court.