Hi everybody, and welcome to a new Something Different Sunday, on which I talk about… well something different from books.
Though I guess today isn’t THAT different from books, because I’m talking about a bookish adaptation: Heartstopper, Netflix’s newest show that is also an adaptation of the Heartstopper graphic novels by Alice Oseman. If you’re new to these, you can check them out for free on webtoon or purchase the physical copies – 4 volumes are already out and the fifth and final installment is scheduled to release in 2023.
If you’ve followed my blog, you might now how much I adore the original graphic novels. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I would love the show too – after all, we’ve all been disappointed by adaptations of beloved stories before. That said, I’m happy to let you know that this was FAR from a disappointment. Quite the opposite in fact, I think it may be my number one favorite adaptation EVER. To me, it’s perfect in every single way – both as a show alone to those new to the story AND as an adaptation that will undoubtedly make fans of the graphic novels VERY happy. Of course, I’ll gladly tell you why 🙂
What it’s about:
Heartstopper is a feel-good, queer coming of age story about Charlie Spring, a gay boy at a British all-boys grammar school. One day he gets seated next to Nick Nelson, one of the school’s top rugby players. Nick and Charlie become quick friends, and Charlie develops a huge crush on the kind-hearted Nick, even if he thinks he’ll never have a chance because Nick is as straight as can be. Right?
Why I loved it :
The wholesome vibe
This show is just so wholesome, feel-good and pure. Honestly, watching it feels like getting a warm hug. It feels so fresh and unlike a lot of other teen drama shows which are all about sex and drama. Heartstopper is just a nice, adorable story about love and hope and friendship. Yes, there are hardships too – Charlie’s had a history of bullying, homophobic people unfortunately still exist and kids can be very mean to each other. But it’s not all doom and gloom either – in fact it strikes that perfect balance and is a very realistic, grounded depiction of life. Not glamorized and all rainbows and sunshine, but not all darkness and hopelessness either. It’s just two kids, Charlie and Nick, building something real and authentic.
Also, this is very much a teen show – Charlie’s 14 at the beginning of the season – but I feel like it’s a great show for all ages. I’m nowhere near being a teen anymore myself, but I love the show and the story because the whole vibe brings me right back to my own high school days, my own friend group and my own coming of age story. It has a very nostalgic vibe to me and I think many adults will be able to appreciate this story just as much as the teens will.
As I mentioned above, the friendships in Heartstopper made me feel super nostalgic. While the story revolves mostly around Charlie and Nick, their group of friends get a a lot of screen time too and they’re all so much fun and well developed. Charlie’s friends with Tao, Isaac and Elle and their friendship is again so adorable – there are movie nights and board games and a whole lot of support. Tao especially values their friendship enormously and as such he can get pretty jealous when Charlie cancels on movie night to hang out with Nick. Many viewers may think this as annoying, but I personally adored Tao – he reminded me a lot of myself as a teen – he’s just a teenage boy who is super protective of his friends and is scared to end up alone. Elle is another amazing character and she’s pretty much the glue that holds their friendship together – the honest yet kind voice of reason and support. Elle is a trans girl who’s just moved to a new all-girls school and once there, she becomes friends with Tara and Darcy, and the two friend groups just sort of come together.
The amazing representation and diversity
Thank you Heartstopper for bringing us so much amazing, healthy representation. We of course have Charlie, who’s gay and has been out for a while. But then we also have Nick, who’s struggling with his sexuality and trying to figure things out. When Nick finally comes out as bisexual, it’s just so perfectly done, I may have shed some tears. We get actual good, healthy, non-stereotypical bi representation – be still my beating heart. (Also, that ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ scene? *chef’s kiss*)
As a parallel to Nick and Charlie’s relationship we also have Tara and Darcy, an established couple, and while they are not the main characters they still get a lot of screentime and character development as well. Also, it’s just nice to see a healthy lesbian couple on tv, because let’s be honest, we need more lesbian stories out there. And of course, there is Elle, a trans black girl who just switched from an all-boys school to an all-girls school. She has her own friends-to-lovers romance going on with Tao and ugh, all these romances are just so pure and adorable. Also, while we have a lot of diversity in this show, everything feels very natural and realistic – it never once feels forced, but instead it’s a perfectly normal representation of life.
The amazingly accurate adaptation
Alice Oseman, who wrote the graphic novels, also worked on the show and it well… shows. It is such a perfect adaptation from the original and fans of the graphic novels will be thrilled to see how accurately the story has been brought to life. So many scenes are just recreated perfectly, panel by panel, from the graphic novel. Even the settings like Charlie’s room are just spot-on, which is just so nice. And it’s not just the the fact that’s it’s so accurate, even the VIBE is the same. I got the same feelings from the show as I did when reading the graphic novels and that is an amazing feat as well. Also, the show incorporates the graphic novel elements here and there with little stars and hearts to highlight the inner thoughts of the characters – like little bolts of lightning sparking between two hands. The visuals and cinematography, it’s all just so well thought out and really help bring this story and the characters to life.
…but also new scenes and new characters are perfect
Of course this isn’t a 100% exact adaptation either. There are some differences with the graphic novels, for example some more scenes and storylines for Tao and Elle, as well as Tara and Darcy. AND there is the addition of 2 new characters: Isaac, the well-read, quiet friend of Charlie and Imogen, Nick’s friend with a crush. And let me just say, I loved both of these additions so much. We haven’t seen too much of Isaac yet as he’s a quiet character, but I hope season 2 will expand on his character some more. Alice Oseman confirmed he’s aro-ace and I want more of that! And Imogen is a character that is obviously added for some drama, but I still like her and hope we’ll get more of her as well in a second season.
I ADORE the graphic novels, and I ADORE this tv adaptation. Honestly, it’s pretty perfect in my eyes. Watch this if you’re in the mood for a feel-good love story that will have you smiling all day. Watch this if you’d like to watch some quality queer representation on your screen. Watch this if you loved stories like Love, Simon and want more. Watch this if you’re a fan of the graphic novels. (Also, read the graphic novels if you liked the show, they’re awesome). Watch this if you like heartwarming coming-of-age stories about love and hope and friendship. Watch this as a family with your kids or parents – it’s suited for everyone. Just… watch this!