Review: Heartstopper (Season 1; 2022)

In among the swathes of theatrical dramas and factual documentaries, what Netflix show should you stream if you’re hoping for something new and appealing that maybe skews a bit younger? The answer is plastered all over your Top 10 recommendations and your Twitter timeline: Heartstopper. If you know, you know – and if you don’t, you’re about to discover why Netflix’s warm and fuzzy show has legions of fans the world over.

With sensitivity, juvenile drama and drawings from Alice Oseman’s graphic novels on which the series is based, Heartstopper is one of the finest teen series Netflix has ever debuted. I was captivated from episode one, mostly because of the series’ striking tendency to always choose breathtaking romance over depictions of trauma. That’s not to say that it’s all smooth sailing; the characters face brutal attacks and equally damaging words rooted in homophobia. These are a huge part of this programme, and provide an insight into the darker side of what the world can be like and show how although the attitudes of society have developed, there is still a long way to go before we arrive at true equality.

The characters also face more internal struggles, some grappling with their identities. For Charlie, this sense of doubt climaxes in the penultimate episode when he ends his relationship with Nick. Luckily, Nick is quick to empathise with Charlie, “I know people have hurt you and you feel like I’d be better off without you,” and the characters reconcile. Nick then decides to come out to his mother, and ultimately to the rest of the world.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, the programme has had an absolute consensus of positive reviews, with specific enthusiasm directed towards the two lead actors. And this is no surprise; their performances are dazzling. It’s a straightforward narrative, yet it is so delightfully portrayed onscreen by the young actors that you will fall head over heels for it right away. I’m a really romantic person, so, of course, I recognised what felt like an intense, authentic relationship between two contrasting characters in this programme – and I was completely addicted. The way the romance is portrayed is not over planned nor unfeasible, and it is unique without trying too hard to be quirky.

In a short series like this, they’ve done one hell of a job. It’s only 8 episodes with a running time of 25 minutes each – but what an impression they made. The episodes are well structured, and the connections between the characters are well presented. The representation of emotion makes you feel part of each and every character’s journey. I will definitely be rewatching this many times as I don’t have a single bad word to say.

At the time of writing, a second season of Heartstopper has not yet been commissioned by Netflix. However, there are presently four volumes of the Heartstopper graphic novel published and accessible online, and with the fifth and final volume set to be released next year, maybe we can expect to see more of the story on our screens soon.

Bridie Adams

Featured Image Source: Still via Youtube // Heartstopper | Official Trailer | Netflix

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