Heartstopper Leaves Fans Flat

Lilianna Harris, Sections Editor

I am a sucker for anything romance related, so I thought Heartstopper would be right up my alley. However, I have never felt more conflicted over any show. Some points made me want to bang my head against the wall, while other parts had my eyes glued to the screen.

Set in Herne Bay, England, Heartstopper is Netflix’s adaptation of Alice Oseman’s webcomic. Much like the comic, the show follows Charlie Spring (Joe Locke), a gay 14 year old, through an all boys highschool. He is in a relationship with Ben Hope (Sebastian Croft), who is a closeted bisexual. Because Ben is in the closet, he does not want to be seen with Charlie. Their relationship ends when Charlie sees Ben cheat on him with a girl. Nick Nelson (Kit Connor) and Charlie are seated next to each other in one of their classes. Charlie immediately develops feelings for Nick, but his fondness was belittled by his friends. Despite his friends warning that Nick is a straight rugby player, Charlie pursues Nick.

The acting looks very stiff and awkward. The cast is relatively young and new to acting, so it makes sense, but every interaction is just painful to watch. They put very little emotion into their characters; every character is bland with no personality. Some characters are just so irrelevant to the storyline, too. Isaac Henderson (Tobie Donovan) is described as a main character on the Alice Oseman Universe Wiki, but I didn’t even know his name until I looked it up.

In all honesty, Tao Xu (William Gao) was my favorite character from the beginning, just because he was not boring. William Gao did an amazing job at giving Tao a lot of personality. However, if any other character had even an ounce of identity, I would hate Tao because his persona is so annoying, but he is literally the only one who is not bland. He also needs a haircut; it looks like he has wings on the side of his head.

Although I did not like the majority of Heartstopper, I did find myself enjoying a few parts. Tao getting into a fight with another character, and Nick joining in, was very entertaining to watch. I found myself being fond of every Nick-and-Charlie interaction from episode 3 and beyond.

Nick discovering his sexuality was sweet and funny to me. During a very dramatic scene Nick looked up “am I gay quiz” on Google, which was by far the funniest clip in the entire show. Although I laughed, it is relatable for most LGBTQ youth; I remember looking up the same thing before I was comfortable with my sexuality, and I relate to the confusion he felt.

Despite constantly thinking he’s gay, he discovers he is bisexual. It seems like in every man-loving-man film, both are gay, so it was like a breath of fresh air when Nick discovered he was bi. There is a lack of bisexuality representaion in today’s media without sexualization, and there’s an even greater absence of bi men representation.

Overall, the show is not bad. A few tweaks here and there would make it way better.