Heartstopper’s accurate LGBT+ representation


Photo from Netflix UK

Poster of Netflix adaptation of Comic book series Heartstopper. Heartstopper features the accurate LGBTQ+ representation on screen.

Heartstopper, a coming-of-age Netflix adaptation of the comic book series written by Alice Oseman, tells the story of 2 queer kids, Nick Nelson and Charlie Spring. Charlie was outed as gay the previous school year and becomes friends with the school jock Nick. We follow Nick through his experience from finding his sexuality to coming out.

The main characters of the show are as follows. Charlie is friends with Isaac, Tao, and Elle. Elle has become friends with Darcy and Tara when she transfers schools. Nick is friends with his rugby pals.

Heartstopper does an amazing job representing the LGBT+ community. Aside from Nick and Charlie’s story, we are introduced to Elle who is a transgender woman that recently transferred to an all-girls school. Tara and Darcy are closeted lesbians that are deciding whether or not to come out as a couple.

Netflix is well-known for its failure to adapt books into a movie or tv show format. I had high hopes for Heartstopper because the teaser and trailer accurately matched some of the scenes from the graphic novels.

Episode 3 – Kiss:

This is my favourite episode in the series. This was a big step for Nick. In the previous episode, Nick was questioning his sexuality, and in the process, he ended up stumbling on the horrors of conversion therapy and the hate that LGBT+ members get. However, when he saw Tara and Darcy kiss, he realised that it was okay for one to be queer.

Heartstopper shows us the different possible situations a queer kid can experience. On one side, we have Tara who feared coming out as a lesbian because of how her peers would react. On the other we have Darcy, who doesn’t mind what anyone thinks, she is happy being herself. Then we have Nick who was afraid of what his family and friends would say. He was afraid of breaking the status quo and not being accepted as himself.

Side by side comparison of Hearstopper scenes with the Comic (Photo from Instagram @Netflixuk / @aliceoseman)

This is one of my favourite episodes. Not to mention the accuracy between the comic and the show’s scenes. I could relate to Nick so much. Throughout the season, I understood how Nick felt because through a certain extent I went through what he went through. This episode marks a milestone for Nick because it is acceptance, and it is perfectly fine to be gay. I love Nick so much because I can see and understand what he went through.

Episode 5 – Friend

This is one of the most important episodes from the series as it develops both Nick’s and Charlie’s relationship. Nick properly meeting Charlie’s friends is a big step. Nick starts to realise that his friends and Charlie’s friends are very different from each other. He also starts to come to terms with the fact that he doesn’t have to do or be everything others expect from him. This makes it easy for him to not go on the date with Imogen and do what he wants to do. This liberty and realisation show the changes Nick is going through. I find this addition of Imogen wonderful and necessary for Nick’s growth as he discovers himself and this new world he finds himself in.

Side by side comparison of Hearstopper scenes with the Comic (Photo from Instagram @Netflixuk / @aliceoseman)

Further, along with the episode, we see Tao’s protectiveness shine through as he is worried for Charlie. Considering Nick’s friends’ reputation and how they are the types of guys that used to bully Charlie the previous year. He worries that Charlie is getting hurt by Nick or could potentially hurt him, Tao doesn’t want to see Charlie in the same position as last year. He is also threatened by the presence of a new person who is taking Charlie’s attention. Tao is scared of being alone but still tries to respect Charlie’s choice of friend. He still tries to warn him to be careful of Nick no matter how nice he seems because of the company Nick keeps. This episode gives more insight into Tao’s character and how he thinks and cares for Charlie.

I love how this episode, for the most part, followed the graphic novel accurately. When I was watching it, I could see the scenes that were in the book.

Episode 6 – Girls

This is a major turning point for Nick as he starts to explore more what labels he identifies with. He watches a bisexual blogger recount how he found out he was interested in both guys and girls. He also talks to Charlie and asks how he knew he was gay. Through this conversation, we gain a more thorough understanding of both of their characters.

This episode was also a huge milestone for Tara and Darcy’s relationship. Now that they are officially out Tara is starting to realise just how much things changed so quickly. This is slightly different from the novel but I think it is a fantastic difference. We see more of Tara’s personality and gain a better understanding of her struggle after coming

Side by side comparison of Hearstopper scenes with the Comic (Photo from Instagram @Netflixuk / @aliceoseman)

out as a lesbian. The scene in the practice room where Tara vents out her frustration on the side comments she’s been getting made me feel so proud of her braving through that but leaning on her lover to help her through it. The addition of the comment about being locked in the room where they had their first kiss brought me so much joy! That little moment referencing that special short comic from the novel was so sweet and I loved it.

Later on in the episode, Nick talks about his relationship with Charlie to Tara. They are the first to know and it is a huge step for Nick as he is coming out to them. Nick starts to gain more confidence with his sexuality throughout this episode, and that confidence led to him not being as scared of others finding out. The little moment about Tara and Nick when they were 13 was adorable. The irony of them thinking they were going to end up together, is that Tara ended up with a girlfriend and Nick with a boyfriend. I just found that little scene so cute.

I love how Heartstopper shows us the many experiences LGBT+ members experience. From the fear of coming out to finding your sexuality.

I do hope Netflix allows Heartstopper to return for a second season because there is so much that hasn’t been covered in the show. The ending of the series makes me wonder if Netflix considered the possibility of a second season.