With a plethora of YA novels exploring the LGBTQ+ community under her belt, author Alice Oseman has adapted her graphic novel Heartstopper into an eight-part series for Netflix, teaming up with seasoned director Euros Lyn and an ensemble cast of budding role models.
The story follows high school teens Nick (Kit Connor) and Charlie (Joe Locke), who both meet at their boy’s grammar school and are partnered together in lessons. Unexpectedly, they both fall in love and have to navigate the tricky path of adolescence and mixed reactions from their own peer group. Locke is magnetic in his debut acting role as geeky Charlie, already confident in his own sexuality but gentle and kind in his delivery, whilst Connor is utterly endearing as the rugby playing popular teen unsure of his feelings and at the start of that journey. Viewers watching their love blossom will appreciate a clean-cut romance of stolen kisses, lingering glances and tender words spoken in both person and text. There’s even the most magical “coming out” scene with Nick’s mum, played brilliantly by a yet-to-be-revealed Oscar-winning actress.
Oseman’s authentic casting after auditioning over ten thousand applications means those who have read the book will see drawings from her novel literally come to life. Many of her chosen cast are also newcomers to screen, and the brilliant sideline stories give space to nurture their talents. Charlie’s trans friend Elle (Yasmin Finney) moves to the girl’s school after being bullied and we see her quiet strength really stand out as she tries to find her place, making friends with cutesy lesbian couple Tara (Corinna Brown) and Darcy (Kizzy Edgell), and then finally building the confidence to reveal romantic feelings for her oldest friend Tao (William Gao).
The writer evens adds animated graphics to her screen version, with falling leaves, hearts and flowers surrounding the characters when they experience heightened moments of emotion. These carefully thought-out details give the show such an original edge, with Oseman also making sure the stories that centre around Nick and Charlie are full of positive charge.
Heartstopper feels like a show everyone needs to see. It’s sweet without the cheese and quietly radical without the shock factor of shows like Sex Education, Euphoria or It’s a Sin.
Watch the trailer for Heartstopper here: