*All illustrations by Alice Oseman, taken from here. Graphics made by me having way too much fun and lack of knowledge on Canva.*
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not much of a rereader or a rewatcher. It usually takes a lot for me to want to reread or rewatch something, let alone find the time to actually do it. Well, all that went out the window when the Netflix Heartstopper show premiered on the 22nd, because that day and the two following ones consisted of:
Day 1 (22nd April 2022)
- Watch all eight episodes of the Heartstopper show
- Catch up with the comic
Day 2 (23rd April 2022)
- Rewatch all eight episodes of the show
- Reread volumes one and two of the comic
Day 3 (24th April 2022)
- Reread volumes three and four of the comic
- Reread all the chapters not compiled in a volume yet
All the while texting my friends who had watched it or were watching it a ridiculous amount of texts. Oh, and I’m currently on my second rewatch, so as you can see, perfectly normal person behaviour.
But why exactly did I go on such a Heartstopper binge? Simply put, this story of queer young love means a lot to me—and to many many others—and I think seeing it come to life made me realise just how important it is. I truly think we’ve come a long way in just a few years when it comes to LGBT+ representation—even though we’re nowhere near where we should be—and Heartstopper is exactly the type of show that many of us wish we had had growing up. It shows teenage characters—that actually act like teenagers!!!—experience diverse types of queerness in different ways, it features LGBT+ characters of colour, and it’s overall a happy feel-good graphic novel and now show.
The adaptation was actually fantastic, and I thought the little changes that were made worked perfectly to make a coherent show. I sincerely don’t think I have a bad word for it. So, because you know my favourite bits are always the characters, I’m going to go over all of them and shortly talk about what I think of each of them (prepare for gushing).
Harry and Ben
Yes, we’re talking about them first. I’ve put them together because they’re both horrible. But sadly they’re very realistic characters. Harry is, simply put, just a bully who’ll pick on anyone to make himself feel better. And Ben… oh Ben, he’s bad but, in my opinion, a very interesting character. He’s, after all, trying to figure himself out… in the worse way possible: acting based solely on what he wants and without taking into account anyone else’s feelings. I thought both portrayals were fantastic as I did really quite dislike them both, as was intended.
Imogen is one of the new characters that were added and I thought it was a nice touch. Lots of people truly dislike her but I just thought she was a girl with a crush acting like most teenagers would. After Nick turns her down she takes it really well and they continue to be friends, so I don’t understand why she’s getting so much hate. I really hope we get to see more of her friendship with Nick and that we see her blossom.
She’s the moment, she’s the legend. Tori only has a few appearances in the show, but she was perfect. You can see how much she loves Charlie and she’s overall just a super supportive, loving older sister. I also still can’t get over how perfect the actress, Jenny Walser, was.
Isaac / Aled
Isaac is also a new addition to the cast, but he’s very obviously based on Aled. I genuinely adored Isaac, seeing him carry a book around everywhere was really cute, and I loved how he was super quiet but also super observant. He was a lovely addition which makes a lot of sense if they want to keep Aled in case Alice ever wishes to sell the rights to Radio Silence. I’m especially excited to see how he’s further developed and how that differs from Aled in the comics. Alice Oseman also confirmed on twitter that he’s aroace, so I’m looking forward to exploring yet another queer identity that’s often overlooked.
So, I’m going to be honest, when I first read the graphic novel it took me a while to grow to love Tao, but once I got there, there was no going back. He is certainly over-protective and constantly over-reacting but he does it because he cares about his friends, specifically Charlie, so I can’t fault him. I really loved his character relief-y moments as he made me laugh out loud more than once, so I thought it was a nice added touch.
One of my favourite aspects of the show is that I feel we got to see more of Elle and, sinse I absolutely adore her, that was a treat. She’s such a lovely friend and honestly, great moral support for all of them, specifically Tao. I really enjoyed seeing her through the process of starting in a new school and make friends. I also can’t ignore the fact that having a trans POC girl just living her life and being surrounded by people that love her is a strong message to send.
I think that Darcy, much like Tao, carries many of the comic relief duties on the show—and the graphic novel. It’s really refreshing to see she’s such a carefree person that doesn’t seem to be too affected by what others think of her. She doesn’t time that much screen-time but she still managed to command attention to her, so I hope we get some of her back story next season to get to know her better.
Tara is another character that I love—I say this as if I didn’t love them all with my entire being—and I really enjoyed that we got more of her storyline. In the comic we only ever see her talk about her struggle with coming out and identifying as a lesbian, but here we actually get to see it. I truly enjoyed that we got to see more of Darcy and Tara’s relationship (as a sidenote, their kiss at the party is the one scene that made me cry both times from pure joy).
Ah Nick Nelson, my beloved. He is actually my favourite character in Heartstopper and one of my favourite characters ever. I mentioned him on my bisexual representation in comics post and I genuinely feel like I could write an entire post about him. Nick’s journey of self-discovery is very dear to me, and the fact that his bisexuality is constantly validated in the comics and the show is actually so important. I just simply adore him and how sweet and open he is. I also really want to point out that I treasure his friendship with Tara, so I wish we see more in the future.
Finally, our main character, Charlie. He’s just one of those characters that you want to wrap in a blanket and protect. Seeing his story come to life was a pleasure, and I really do hope we get to see more of it. On top of that, I loved how they were already leaving crumbs of plotlines to come, so I’m excited. Charlie has gone through hell but he is still the most sensitive and supportive character ever. He is always careful not to hurt other people’s feelings, even when he’d be more than allowed to be angry. I’m still amazed that this was apparently Joe Locke’s first acting job, because he completely blew it out of the water.
Have you watched Heartstopper? What did you think of it? Had you already read the graphic novel or are you new to this story?