The British Netflix series poster promotes the eight-episode “Heartstopper” series with actors Kit Connor and Joe Lockwood. The two actors happily looked at each other in the poster as they sat at their high school desks signifying the start of their characters’ love story. Photo courtesy of Netflix
In April, Netflix came out with British series “Heartstopper,” a heartwarming Queer coming-of-age love story. Audiences immediately connected with the show, and it quickly became a hit on an international level, according to Vanity Fair.
The show follows main characters Nick Nelson and Charlie Spring as they navigate their sexuality, crushes, friendships and high school. Students who watched the show and read the “Heartstopper” graphic novels said the characters and storylines are important to LGBTQ+ representation.
“It’s one of the first pieces of Queer media that I have consumed that’s had a happy ending and a wide range of representation,” sophomore Cassandra Barron said. “It’s so positive and happy, and there’s such a good connotation around the show.”
“It was the first graphic novel I’ve read, and I instantly fell in love,” Barron said. “I read it in one sitting, and I was like ‘I need to go buy the next one and the next one.’”
After the novels came out, Oseman went on to write and co-produce the Netflix adaptation. Oseman said she made sure the scenes, episodes and characters were true to her messaging in the books in an interview with Frederica Bocco.
“The first priority was writing the core story of ‘Heartstopper,’ getting as much as I could from the comics into the show and then hopefully just expand it outwards and add more subplots around it,” Oseman said.
“Heartstopper’s” characters especially resonated with Queer audiences who craved stories with a multitude of complex LGBTQ+ characters and storylines, according to the New York Times. The series represents the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
“There are so many gay people on the show, and it just feels really nice because a lot of people are represented,” Barron said. “It’s the best feeling to be able to connect to a character and a TV show or book or movie.”
When Oseman was undergoing the casting process, it was important to her that actors could authentically portray the characters, she said in an interview with Newsweek.
“I love that they cast people the actual age, and also they cast an actual trans woman as a trans woman,” senior Charlie Markham said. “Even though they’re so young, they understand the gravity of what they’re representing on the show.”
The attention to representation behind the scenes of the show did not stop at casting. Series director Euros Lyn was adamant that most of the crew, including the makeup team, photographers and design team were a part of the LGBTQ+ community, according to Netflix.
A unique part of “Heartstopper” lies in its overwhelmingly positive representation of LGBTQ+ relationships and identities. In other media, LGBTQ+ representation tends to focus on the trauma and shame of being Queer, according to New University.
“It’s a hopeful realism, showing younger Queer people that it’s not going to be negative because I think a lot of shows show the scariness of coming out and then end up with a happy ending after trauma,” Markham said. “This show is like ‘Yeah, there’s difficulties, but it can be positive.’”
Despite its focus on positive Queer experiences, Barron said “Heartstopper” does not stray away from touching on serious topics such as homophobia, transphobia, eating disorders and mental health.
“It shows that not every Queer person has to have a negative experience with being Queer,” Barron said. “Even though there are a lot of deep, intense topics discussed in the show, which I think is really important, everything is handled in such a positive and intentional way.”
Senior Olivia Bretzius said she appreciates “Heartstopper’s” balance of handling the problems the Queer community faces — while acknowledging the joy and love they experience too.
“It’s for an audience to recognize what other Queer people have been through, and it’s good representation in that way,” Bretzius said. “I think the point of this show is to be like, ‘Here, we’re gonna give you a happy love story.’”
Since watching the show, Barron said her perspective on consuming Queer media has changed for the better.
“Now my standards have been raised for what I watch and for what I consume that has to do with the [Queer] community,” Barron said.
Netflix announced “Heartstopper” will return for a second season. With no set release date yet, the cast and crew started filming for it already, according to Teen Vogue. Barron said she is excited for the next season since she read all the graphic novels.
“I have really high expectations because the topics that are going to be discussed in this next season are going to be even more important and vital to the story,” Barron said.
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic
Contact Jackie Lopez via email: firstname.lastname@example.org