Heartstopper is a queer story that many young people have been waiting for. I grew up with representation that was either shrouded in subtext or marred by hurtful stereotypes that both didn’t understand the LGBTQ+ experience and actively wanted to despise it.
It was tough, but that image has started to change over the years with all kinds of movies, shows, books, and games seeking to tell queer stories that mean something, and better represent them while making the world a better place. place for those who for years have felt ostracized simply because they are who they are. Things are changing and I am honored to be at the forefront of this new era as I come to terms with my own identity.
Since its debut last month, we’ve seen Heartstopper take the world by storm. This heartfelt adaptation of Alice Oseman’s webcomic sought to expand on the source material while taking it to bold new places by providing its cast of characters – queer or not – with more depth, more nuance and more room. to shine as people we can all relate to. for. Nick Nelson and Charlie Spring’s blossoming relationship is an adorable pleasure to watch unfold, and we now have two more seasons to look forward to with news of the renewal from Netflix.
In a landscape largely curated by Netflix, we’ve seen queer shows like The Get Down, I Am Not Okay With This, GLOW, and several others being taken down long before they reached their full potential. Heartstopper feels like Netflix is finally giving queer stories a shot without dangling the threat of cancellation right in front of our noses. We often see shows centered around LGBTQ+ characters fighting to get their stories told, much like ND Stevenson did with She-Ra and the Princesses of Power a few years ago. He had to plant the seeds of the show’s central Sapphic relationship and continually convince those at the top that their love was necessary for the narrative to succeed, and without such a thing it would crumble.
We must constantly fight for representation that does justice to who we are, often pushing back against well-meaning cis creators in order to have authentic stories told by perspectives who know what it is to be gay, lesbian, bisexual , trans or any other identity under the queer umbrella. We still have a long way to go to achieve equality, but Heartstopper has set a new benchmark for what queer television is capable of when it’s unafraid to portray the undeniable joy that comes from embracing whoever you are and fall in love. In society, we’re so often pushed into hiding, but this adaptation turns the tables and explores the beauty of love and acceptance, no matter where you’re from, what you look like or whatever. one can think in response to your own happiness.
Two more seasons are on the horizon, which feels like a statement of intent from Netflix and a half-hearted apology for all the queer stories it’s left behind in the past. One could argue that Heartstopper is a more marketable, sweet representation of gay romance that can appeal to all sorts of audiences, but a commitment to several more episodes to explore Oseman’s ongoing narrative gives me the confidence to say that this story isn’t going to change who it wants to be in order to expand its audience, or abandon the relatable characters and gripping themes that helped it become such a success.
If you’re unfamiliar with the source material, Heartstopper’s first season ends at the end of the webcomic’s second published volume. There are currently four available right now, with the comic continuing to be updated online with new pages regularly. Charlie and Nick’s story is far from over, while shorter novels and other books by Alice Oseman offer glimpses of their future, or entirely different stories told from the perspective of other characters. of the universe. It’s like the MCU if everyone was fruity.
We have yet to explore Nick’s family and the hidden biases within it, or delve deeply into Charlie’s anorexia and ongoing struggles with mental illness. There’s also the school trip, Tao’s developing romance with Elle, and so many other little events the show has yet to address. It planted the seeds, perhaps even more so than webcomics when creating such character arcs, which means we’ll absolutely see them fleshed out in future seasons. I’m also curious if the Netflix show will end up moving beyond the current canon narrative, pulling a Fullmetal Alchemist and creating its own universe away from webcomics with new moments and characters we’ve never seen before. .
Given how involved Alice Oseman is in the production itself and the writing of the series, I have no objection to Heartstopper going beyond its source material and becoming something entirely unique. The casting is perfect, the atmosphere is electric and the first season has already shown so much potential that remains to be exploited. I’m so glad Netflix isn’t turning away from a queer experience like this that millions of people have already fallen in love with, especially since in the past it’s pushed aside various stories while trying to justify his existence as a progressive. ally. Heartstopper single-handedly changes that perception, and I hope his victories continue for years to come.
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